There’s nothing wrong with a little stress in our lives. It can give us motivation and kickstart us into action. Too much stress, however, creates a ‘fight or flight’ response in the body where our heart rate increases and we can experience extreme highs and lows in our energy levels. On-going and unchecked stress can negatively affect our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing and lead to preventable chronic disease. Here are seven ways to decompress…
Cultivate a Buddhist Mind
Most of us will agree that a calm mind and balanced perspective is essential to getting through these unprecedented times. Regular meditation is key and can be done in many ways including guided, self-guided, visualisation, walking, and breathwork – plus there’s hundreds of meditation apps available to download. Practice gratitude exercises to reframe your brain. Focus on what you can control rather than what you can’t. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It’s hard not to be online alot right now. However, too much screen-time can be inflammatory that also causes stress in the body and mind. Extended time staring at the computer affects our vision, and can cause strain in our neck and shoulders.
Remember that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ – taking regular breaks is crucial to our health. Every twenty minutes, get up and move around, grab a glass of water, stretch your legs etc.
There’s never been a better time for all of us to focus on improving ourselves. We recommend tuning into inspiring Ted Talks – there’s hundreds of inspirational speakers sharing insights on a full range of topics. Other (simple) ways to keep inspired include daily walks, quality time with family, drinking beautiful wine, and cooking a meal. Finding your happiness zone is not rocket science – simply overload your day with activities that you enjoy doing. The key to life is simply to do what you love and love what you do and do it ten-fold.
Even though going to the gym isn’t possible for most of us right now, there’s lots of natural physical movement we can do like walking, gardening, cleaning, and online workouts (check out Karma Group’s Sports Luminary, Chris Robshaw’s fitness moves in this edition). If you can exercise outdoors, then even better! While regular movement is essential, be mindful of overexercising as this can cause wear and tear and stress in the body. Mix up your regime with yoga stretches and pilates. Exercise also increases our endorphins ‘happy hormones’ – we feel and look better.
Feeling stressed can lead to sugar cravings which can be a problem as sugar causes sudden spikes in our blood sugar levels. The good news is that reducing sugar in our diet is super easy. Start (slowly) replacing processed and artificial sugars with natural and low GI alternatives like coconut sugar and maple syrup. Remember to avoid hidden sugars like carbs including wheat bread, wheat pasta and processed fruit juices. Don’t be a fanatic though – there’s nothing more comforting than squares of delicious dark chocolate – a little sweetness is good for the soul.
Now that you have reduced sugar, up your dose in anti-inflammatory foods. These include omega-rich flaxseeds, nuts, and fatty fish like wild salmon. Sip warm herbal teas made with chamomile and lemon balm. Eat fruits and veggies high in vitamin C. An anti-inflammatory diet is thought to reduce our risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and other modern diseases.
Slowing down and ‘smelling the roses’ has, for many, been one of the unexpected silver linings during quarantine. When we slow down, our breathing becomes calmer that in turn creates a calmer mindset. Other ways to invite more zen into our day include long languide baths with Epsom salts and Lavender essential oil. Take it easy. Do things that make you feel relaxed.