It seems to be something we are doing all day long, trying to conquer our stress. We wake to an obnoxious noise, immediately jump into the morning routine, the school run, the commute, the endless emails, texts and calendar updates. The dinner prep, the chores, the kids in bed and then what? Exercise, logging on, paying bills or TV. Or all of those together perhaps.
We rarely slow down. Taking a few minutes in your day to notice where you are and what you are feeling WILL make a difference in your stress levels.
There are various apps that can ring a bell on your phone to remind you to stop. Personally, I like iMindfulness, which despite it’s name, it not just for iphone. It’s available on android as well but costs somewhere between $2-3. The actual meditations are annoying but the bell meditation will ring at certain points of the day that you preset. If you prefer to be “surprised”, try the Mindfulness Bell, which is free and is just a bell that rings at random times of the day. This is useful as well as it’s hard to predict all your stressful moments.
The other things that I suggest to help with stress is:
1. Get enough sleep. The work, the chores, social media and anything else that keeps you up late will still be there tomorrow. Make sure your room is dark, quiet, cool and free from electronic devices to get the best quality sleep.
2. Exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be formal but a walk to the subway, a walk at lunchtime, running after kids or cleaning are all forms of exercise. As long as you not sitting all day.
3. Include formal exercise. This is time out for stress relief. Find what you enjoy so you can really relax. And be open to try new things. Never a runner, I’m trying the couch-to-5K challenge because running suits my lifestyle and time restrictions at the moment.
4. Eat well. Cut back or omit sugar and caffeine. Replace them with fresh fruits and green tea. A handful of almonds, a small plain yogurt or 1/4 cup of hummus helps include protein into regular snacks to stabilize blood sugar levels.
5. Include supplements. A fish oil (choose pharmaceutical grade such as Ascenta Nutrasea or Carlson) is helpful for reducing stress as is a B-complex, B5 and/or Vitamin C supplement.
6. Go outside everyday for 15 minutes. 15 minutes of sunshine increases serotonin and vitamin D levels (in the wintertime, take a vitamin D supplement).
7. There are many other supplements you can take as well, 5-HTP, Valerian, GABA or Relora can all help but are very individual. Get assessed and a prescription from a naturopathic doctor.
8. Clear clutter. Especially in your work area, keep a clean workdesk, perhaps adding flowers, photos or inspiration quotes.
9. Schedule yourself a Time Out. Use this time to practice the tried-and-tested stress relieving techniques; draw a bath, light some candles (peppermint is currently considered the best scent for stress as it’s been found to lower cortisol levels) and play some music. Enya, Loreena McKennit or Marconi Union are good bets.
10. Practice mindfulness daily. Experience life.