“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” ― Danzae Pace
Susan, a mom of two in her mid-forties, knew a thing or two about stress.
Her husband is in the military, and that means she has to hold the fort down at home, look after her two pre-teen daughters, and juggle a ton of other responsibilities.
So it’s no surprise that she would find herself exhausted to the bone and mentally drained.
Susan tried to keep herself cheerful and upbeat by watching a bit of Netflix and enjoy a glass of wine before bed.
However, she started to realize that her relaxation ritual became less and less effective as time went on.
For instance, Susan would still find it hard to get a good night’s sleep, so she’d have a rough start the next morning, which made her cranky around her kids.
And she tried distracting herself by spending way too much time scrolling through her social media feed.
But she’d wind up comparing herself to friends and getting into arguments in the comment section.
So, Susan was tired and anxious all the time because she couldn’t cope with the stress that was piling up.
Fortunately, her best friend Mary knew what was going on. She decided to step in and gently convinced Susan to revamp her approach to stress management.
She found it hard at first to change her routine, but Susan learned to embrace her new and improved lifestyle.
After making a few key changes, she’s learned to cut down on her nightcap and binge-watching habit.
And now, Susan checks her social media only once a day before doing something productive with her time.
As a result, Susan is more mentally resilient and she can handle the craziest of days without feeling overwhelmed.
Finding Inner Peace In A Chaotic World
A lot of people find themselves in the same situation as Susan. Unfortunately, they don’t have a system for dealing with the stress that accumulates throughout the week.
And if this goes unchecked, it can lead to long-term consequences, like chronic inflammation, low immunity, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and heart disease.
That’s why it’s critical to have a system in place that acts as a safety valve to release built-up stress.
Here are some effective ways to take the edge off and get stress down to manageable levels:
#1: Fine Tune Your Self-Awareness
The main challenge with stress is that we often get flooded without even knowing that it’s happening.
And when you’re submerged in feelings related to anxiety, tension or anger, you need to come up for air - here are some great ways to do that:
Practice breathing mindfully: most people don’t bother to slow down and understand what’s happening to them in the first place. That’s why meditation is the perfect way to step outside the moment and observe yourself. As you become more aware of your inner world, you’ll gain better mastery over your emotions.
Practice acceptance: It’s ok to admit to yourself that you’re feeling stressed or anxious. You’re not meant to fight these emotions, and trying to do so often amplifies them.
Instead, tell yourself that accepting these negative feelings ISN’T the same as giving up.
You’re simply acknowledging that you’re not in the best situation right now - but you’re still doing something about it. And that in itself can be a source of relief.
Practice critical thinking: Playing the skeptic is another way to stay on top of a stressful or anxious moment.
Question your thoughts related to stress and anxiety by asking things like, “Is it really reasonable to worry THIS much?”, “Do I have all the facts or am I only going on my emotions?”, “What part of the situation can I control or do something about?”
#2: Tame The Beast Within
Stress can trigger feelings of fear, panic or hopelessness. And while awareness is the first step, you also need to direct that negative energy in a constructive direction.
Aside from practicing mindfulness and meditation, another way to deal with stress is by rewriting the negative dialogue in your head. Most people default to projecting the worst-case scenario in their minds - which is why you should counter that with positive internal dialogue.
For instance, you can come up with a list of positive statements to read to yourself when the occasion calls for it. Try telling yourself things like:
#3: Eat Better To Feel Better
The human body can deal with stress better if it’s in a better condition to do so. That’s why a big part of stress management involves being on top of your health.
For starters, cutting out the processed food from your diet is a great step forward. Once you start replacing that with nutritionally-dense, whole foods instead, your body and brain will function much better.
Your gut bacteria, in particular, will hugely benefit from better food choices.
Billions of those microscopic organisms living in your digestive system play a significant role in emotional and mental health. A lot of studies over the years show that gut bacteria produce “happy chemicals” such as serotonin and dopamine.
#4: Ditch Your Inner Couch Potato
Many experts point out the risks of a lifestyle lacking in physical activity. For instance, research coming from Johns Hopkins Medicine shows that sedentary people are more likely to develop life-threatening conditions like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
So not only does exercise help cut down these risks, but it’s also your best weapon against the cumulative effects of stress. And the best thing you could do for yourself is to figure out a simple, low-maintenance exercise routine.
If you can get even get in 10-15 minutes of physical activity daily, you’re already on the right track.
Eventually, you’ll want to make room in your schedule to get in half an hour of exercise 2-3 times a week.
The other easy way to chip away at a sedentary lifestyle is by breaking up long periods of sitting. People who spend most of the day at the computer can get up and move once or twice for every hour of sitting down.
Go somewhere quiet (e.g., the office break room, your living room, an exercise room) and try doing stretches, going for a walk, or doing a handful of jumping jacks. The more you make a habit of this, the less damage sitting down can do to your body (and add to your stress levels).
#5: Stay On Top Of Your Bedtime Routine
A study from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows a clear connection between the quality of sleep and stress levels.
Even lacking a few hours of sleep can leave someone feeling irritable, agitated, emotionally unstable and lethargic. This is why it’s VITAL that you set the right conditions for a good night’s rest.
For example, make sure your bedroom is free of any distractions, such as electronics. Switch off all screens a couple of hours before sleeping and do something relaxing instead (e.g. reading a book, meditating, listening to music).
This quiets down your mind and makes it less likely for you to toss and turn at night. Also, make sure your mattress and pillow are ideal for sleeping, and keep your room as cool and dim as possible.
Most folks take this part of their day for granted, but getting a good night’s sleep (BOTH quality and quantity-wise) will make a HUGE difference the next morning.
It sets you up for success and protects you from the stress that builds up throughout the day.
Aside from cultivating better bedtime habits, there’s a quick and easy way to drastically improve the quality of your sleep in as little 30 minutes!
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“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
― Homer, The Odyssey
We all get to sleep at night.
But not everyone can be as energized as others when they wake up.
What’s the difference?
Why do some people wake up beaming with energy…
While other people, even after 8-10 hours of sleep, didn’t feel like rested at all?
There are several scientific reasons why that’s the case…
But the root of all this is that people will feel more rested and energized in the morning…
If the quality of their sleep is great.
And when talking about sleep, quality isn’t equal to the duration. So it doesn’t mean that if you slept for 8-10 hours, you’ll have a great quality sleep.
So here I’ll be giving you 9 tips to increase the quality of your sleep.
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9 Tips to Sleep Better and Get More Energized Mornings
1. Pitch black room at night, sunlight during the day
At night when you’re trying to sleep…
Your room should be as dark as possible. No lights from any sources, thick curtains, etc.
This may not be possible for everyone due to a lot of factors like living conditions, environment, etc.
But at least try to make the room as dark as possible.
At the same time, when you’re awake during the day…
Be sure to get enough sunlight. This will energize you and will calibrate your body rhythm. This way, your body will know when you should be awake, and when you should feel sleepy.
2. No coffee after lunch.
This can be easier than done for coffee lovers. But limit your coffee to 1-2 cups a day, ideally.
And no coffee after lunch.
This can make sleeping easier at night.
3. No naps after 4pm, keep them less than 30 minutes
Don’t we just love taking naps if we have nothing else to do?
But taking long naps and taking them late in the afternoon can make it harder to sleep at night.
It will disrupt your body clock.
Keep your naps as short as 15-20 minutes. That will recharge you just enough to get through the day. And don’t take them after 4pm.
4. The only purpose of your bedroom is for sleeping, work and other matters should be done in other rooms.
Another great way to set the ‘tiredness’ mood is this.
Work and other ‘waking life’ agenda should be done outside the bedroom.
This will set your mind to associate the bedroom with sleep and tiredness at the end of the day.
This is also easier said than done due to lifestyle differences and other factors.
But it’s ideal if you can make this one of your family’s house rules.
5. No phones or electronic gadgets near you.
Add this one to your house rules too.
It’s very tempting to get on your phone and scroll the night away. But this will make it harder for you to sleep.
One reason is that your mind will keep on working…
Therefore making it harder to relax.
Another reason is because of the blue light which can disrupt your body clock.
6. No clocks can help too.
Clocks in the room, especially if you’re finding it hard to sleep…
It can add more anxiety…
And add more sleeplessness.
Without clocks in the room, you’re somehow removing a worry out of your mind.
Sleeplessness can be more worrying if you’re constantly thinking “What time is it?”
And if you don’t have an immediate answer to that, your mind will find it easy to let go of the question.
7. Do some exercises, in the morning
To add to the tiredness factor, you need exercise.
Exercise as you know…
Has many benefits aside from this.
But the main thing it can do to help you sleep better… Is to make your body tired.
But getting this done late in the night can also disrupt your sleeping pattern…
So it’s better to do it in the morning.
8. Follow your circadian rhythm
The ultimate tip to get the best sleep you can get is to follow what’s natural for you.
And that’s to follow your internal clock, body clock, or circadian rhythm.
Another bonus tip related to this one is:
Sleep and wake up at the same time each day. But how do you know what time to sleep and what time to wake up?
9. If you want to know your ideal sleeping ang waking time…
If you can make it possible…
Sleep when you feel sleepy and wake up without any interventions like alarms. Take note of the times you slept, and you woke up.
A pattern will emerge, and once you follow your own circadian rhythm, you’ll be more energized.
With all these tips mentioned in the article, take one and this is the one you should take:
Follow your own internal clock. And you’ll have a greater quality of sleep.
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