Archive for ◊ October, 2013 ◊

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• Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

 

The vast majority of us are under some sort of stress. Make no mistake. Part of the problem is that we’ve become used to it – so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

According to a recent study by independent think tank The Australia Institute and mental health support organisation beyondblue, almost half of working Australians (about 3.2 million) suffer from work-related stress. Nearly all are losing sleep over it, and it’s affecting the personal relationships of more than 2 million.

Here are four things you can do right now to alleviate stress. Some of them might surprise you.

 

 

Four ways to reduce stress right now.

1) Sleep

Sleep is our natural way of reducing stress chemicals back to baseline levels. Without quality sleep, we start each day in a slightly elevated state of stress – compounding the problem. But we need quality sleep. Slow wave sleep is the most restorative, followed by REM sleep.

To get more slow wave sleep, you need to consistently average 7-8 hours a night, go to bed at roughly the same time, and wake up within half hour of the same time every day.

If you continually wake up exhausted, you’re not getting enough.

 

2) Don’t Workout So Hard

High intensity exercise actually produces the stress response. Elevated heart rate, blood pressure, increased adrenalin and cortisol. Running 5km flat out, or boxing like your life depends on it are great for heart and lung fitness, but not necessarily for fighting stress.

Instead, do some slower exercise like yoga, relaxing walks, Tai Chi or Pilates.

 

3) Stop Eating Sugar

In the initial phase of the stress response our body dumps a whole heap of energy into the bloodstream so that we can use it to fight or run away. When we eat high calorie, high sugar foods, we tell our body to set the stress response in motion. The resulting chemical reactions increase toxic waste products and also stop our body’s ability to burn fat.

Be conscious of making low GI food choices that provide sustained energy throughout the day, and don’t spike your blood sugar.

 

4) Slow Down

When we operate on high alert all day – rushing from deadline to meeting to family commitments – our stress chemicals stay elevated to keep us ‘up’, so that we can maintain the level of attention and focus that we need to do all these things. But when we take moments to slow down, it allows these chemicals to retreat, and allows critical areas of our brain to take a break so that they can perform at their best when we need them to.

Find just 10 minutes, three times a day to slow down. Breathe, take a slow walk in the sun or just sit and think.