How to Reduce Stress...Immediately
Stress - it affects us all. We all have our limits and what that looks like may be different for each of us. I talk about stress a lot when it comes to health and especially functional skincare because I strongly believe that chronic stress is a major issue for many of us and can affect us in so many different ways - be it the appearance of your skin, chronic disease, energy levels or overall quality of life. Optimal health is not just about eating well and exercising. It's so much more than that.
Did you know that an estimated 75-90% of doctor visits are for stress-related issues? We live in a world where the demand to constantly be "on" is revered and felt to be a necessity. Take one second for yourself and you may very well miss the next big opportunity. It's a major demand on your time and mental resources! Subconsciously these demands eventually stack up to cause us stress. We've become so used to being stressed that it's almost like an underlying thread of expectation in our day. I challenge that it's time to change this, for the sake of your health and quality of life.
Turn off Notifications on your Phone
Seriously. This was something that was recommended to me by a business mentor and I haven't regretted the change. Especially when owning your own business, social media and online activity is important. I was starting to drive myself off the deep end with the constant bombardment of notifications and never-ending emails. Even while I was on vacation I was glued to my phone, answering questions for people and staying active on social media.
At first when this was recommended to me I was a little skeptical, I was worried that if I were to take a step back from social media and emails that I was going to miss out or not be there for people when they needed me. It's a lot of pressure! I have noticed a major difference in the quality of my interactions now that I've backed off a bit from it. My phone isn't constantly "pinging" at me or flashing lights in my face from every "like" or "comment" I get on social media - which is directly related to up-regulating our body's natural stress response. And I don't constantly feel the pressure to reply to emails the minute I receive them, which was causing me to become wound up and stressed.
At the very least, put your phone on silent. That unexpected "buzz" or "ping" can very well activate our body's natural stress response. Think of that happening to you dozens of times a day and what that will do to your body and mind...
Less Phone Time. Period.
Yeah, seriously again. I think checking our phones has become a weirdly accepted version of obsession. I find it also sad when I see people sitting at a table together and they're all on their phones instead of having quality conversation with one another. Social media is meant to bring people together but it has a very real way of removing us from the present and tampering our real-life, in-person encounters. We as a society need to learn how to use these great tools like tech, phones and social media in a meaningful, productive way. And the simplest place to start is by putting your phone down and engaging with humans right in front of us while using our phones as an accessory for this and not the other way around.
I personally have made it a point to remove my phone from my presence when I'm working on something or engaging with people. It's either in my bag or in another room. It's helped me feel more in control of how I spend my time instead of my phone stressing me out.
Establish a Morning Routine
I am lucky enough to be able to have an entire hour to myself in the mornings before I start working. I look forward to my uninterrupted "me" time every morning, where I have a cup of coffee and chill with a book or do some journaling. It's non-negotiable time and it's mine. I'll selfishly take it.
I hear a lot of people complaining that they don't have time for this. I have little patience for this statement - while I understand that we all have demands on our time, like children or busy work schedules, that doesn't mean that there isn't even five minutes in your day that you can reserve for yourself. After all, if you're not able to nourish yourself, how can you possibly be expected to show up 100% in every other aspect of your life? You owe it to yourself to make time for yourself to recharge and have quality YOU time.
Make Movement a Part of your Daily Lifestyle
We need to move, it's so important for managing stress! Even if it's just for brief moments in your day, like a five minute walk here and there or taking the long way around the office from your desk to the washroom, do it. I think "walk breaks" should be the new "smoke breaks". Once every hour, get up and walk around even just for 5-10 minutes. It'll help renew your energy and refresh your state of mind. In the evenings, instead of sitting on the couch and watching TV for the evening, implement a basic stretching routine or go for a leisurely walk outdoors. It's not difficult to implement these recommendations into your busy schedule, it's more an issue of whether or not you want to.
I typically recommend aiming for 10K steps daily, which is about an hour of walking in total. Pick up a cheap pedometer and check in to see how many steps you're taking. Your phone likely has a built-in pedometer on it as well, I recommend using it to get an idea your average daily steps so you can work on improving this. Now that's a useful way to use your phone!