What is your biggest obstacle to living a healthy lifestyle?
If stress comes to mind, you are not alone.
When life gets overwhelming, stress levels rise. Sometimes, you know that you either have too much stress or you’ve been stressed for too long and something’s got to give. Other times, stress isn’t as obvious. It may be the result of an unhealthy relationship you’ve stayed in for too long, poor nutrition, too much or the wrong kind of exercise, or not enough sleep.
Indicators that you are stressed include injury, headaches, cold sores, a change in your bowels, acne, muscular pain, weight gain or loss, fatigue, increased anxiety, digestive distress, histamine issues, illness, or even disease. You may miss appointments or snap at loved ones.
But I don’t feel stressed out
You don’t always feel stressed but that doesn’t mean you are not putting too much stress on your body. As an athlete, you may be training with people better, faster, and stronger. This is a great way to improve and challenge yourself, however, you need to know your limits, and build in recovery training and time. Or perhaps your job, finances, or a relationship is causing subtle anxiety which puts stress on your organs, emotions, and immune system.
Here Are Some Tips for Reducing Stress:
So how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle and optimize wellness? How do you reduce stress in your life and ultimately in your bodies so that you can live a healthy lifestyle?
Write it Down
Writing out your schedule can paint a clear picture as to whether you are out of balance. Track your activities for a week. Include athletics, work, second job, hobbies, and activities. Include driving time. Are there areas you can cut back on or postpone?
Learn to Say No
Sometimes you are so busy that the things you do are no longer fun. Examine each obligation on your social calendar. It is perfectly acceptable to say no with grace and ask for a raincheck.
Identify the Cause
Look closely at each area of your life and assess whether it is stress producing or stress releasing, your job, relationships, finances, etc. Where can you make changes?
There is an unhealthy cycle when it comes to diet and nutrition. When you eat like crap, you feel like crap AND, when you feel like crap, you eat like crap.
Break the cycle! Don’t wait to feel good to eat well, you must start eating better in order to feel better.
It is part of a healthy lifestyle, however, you must look at what is called the intensity-to-recovery ratio. How quickly can your body recover in comparison to how intense you are working out? It is common to think more is better but that is not always the case. My husband, Jimmie King, sports nutritionist, personal trainer, and West Point Grad recommends doing cardio three to five times per week for twenty to sixty minutes and strength training twice a week.
Even kids have a built-in recess at school where they go outside, run around, and release stress.
Yoga and Meditation
When practiced daily can help you relax, concentrate, control stress, and manage anxiety.
Breathing is so automatic you forget you are doing it. However, when you tune in, slow down, and deepen your breath, you can refocus, calm your emotions, and relax. Breathwork can affect your cardio, brain, digestion, even your immune system.
There is something about being in nature that nurtures the soul and reduces stress.
Ease or Struggle?
Sometimes you are in a season of your life where you can’t slow down. If you can’t remove obligations, you can choose to do things with ease. Focus on relaxing. Release the struggle. Change your mantra from “life is so hard” to “I do all things with ease.”
Does your business require a lot of phone time? How long are your phone calls? Can you cut them in half? Let people know at the beginning of the call how much time you have. Set a timer and get right to business.
It has many benefits and, it can be a major distraction and time stealer. Set a limit per day and use a timer. Stick to it.
Guard Your Mornings
One email or negative post first thing in the morning and the day is off to the wrong start. At the very least, your brain gets activated and puts you into work mode before it needs to be. Guard your mornings. Ease into your day with loved ones or in pleasant solitude.
Guard Your Evenings
What you do in the hours before bed will affect the quantity and quality of your sleep. Turn electronics off at least one hour (or more) before bed. According to John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, television will relax a man’s brain and stimulate a woman’s brain.
Calming teas, essential oils, and melatonin spray can increase the quantity and quality of your sleep. Good quality sleep can reduce the stress on your body.
Vacation and Time to Unplug
Vacation and recreation provide time to heal, recover, and restore. What are you doing annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily to take a time out?
Caffeine, sugar, salt, and gluten can all add stress to your body. A simple detox for several weeks will help you determine if certain foods are adding stress to your body or helping to remove it.
Try Acupuncture, Massage, Reiki, or float therapy to reduce stress.
Uncontrolled stress can be a major obstacle to living a healthy lifestyle. Use the tips above to take the necessary steps today to reduce its impact on your body, mind, and spirit.
– Lori Ann
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