Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Kitty Chao, shares her top tips for minimising stress for a happier, healthier and more balanced life.
At some point in our lives we all experience stress.
In fact, a little bit of stress can actually be good for us! That natural fight or flight response can help us make that work deadline, motivate us to get things done, or give us that extra boost of adrenaline to make the last minute dash to the airport departure gate on time.
Too much stress however can have a disastrous effect on our mental and physical health.
If you're having trouble coping, chronic stress can wear you down and overwhelm you. You may frequently be in a bad mood, your productivity may decrease, your relationships may suffer, you may develop sleep problems, and you might even find it difficult to go about your normal daily routine.
The tensions of life can easily take over us if we allow it. Fortunately there are many things that we can do to take action and help minimize the negative effects of excess stress, allowing us to enjoy a happier, healthier and more balanced life. After all, life’s too short not to feel a billion times better!
- Make a list - Make an important list of things that we need to handle each day, and make it achievable. Try to follow the list, crossing things off as you go along. Not only will it ensure you are organized and on top of things, crossing things off a list can help give us a sense of mastery and achievement.
- Make time for mindfulness - Set aside a time of the day to work on relaxation even if it is 10 minutes a day. Take a stroll in the park, lie on the grass and watch the clouds roll by or just take some time out from whatever you are doing to have 10 mindful minutes.
- Make time to move – Trust an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, movement is truly medicine! Exercise increases your overall health and sense of well-being, not to mention stimulating that rush of endorphins known as our “feel good” neurotransmitters. Not only will you feel great but your mood will increase and it can also lower symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
- Get the right amount of sleep - Stress may be inevitable but that doesn’t mean we should let it get the better of us. When we are stressed it can feel as though our minds are racing a million miles a minute and this can inhibit important things like sleep. There is no magic number of sleep hours we should log per night but it is recommended that a good 7-9 hours would suffice. Make sure you brush up on your sleep hygiene habits and switch off from technology as this can stimulate our brains in the wrong way.
- Talk to a friend or loved one - Sometimes life feels more overwhelming in your head, and the best thing to do is to express how you’re feeling to a friend or loved one. It has been shown that talking to someone can release built-up tensions, put any irrational thoughts into perspective and help you to make better decisions.
- Identify any telling unhealthy behaviours – When we’re not coping, it’s easy to unconsciously fall into unhealthy behaviours and using certain vices as a crutch. Have you been drinking more than usual? Falling back into a smoking habit? Or sleeping less? This could be a sign you may be struggling and need to seek out some constructive ways to relieve tension and regain your balance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always contact a qualified health professional if you feel it’s all a bit too much.
- Make the time to do what you enjoy - Whether it’s music, art, the outdoors or other hobbies, it’s important to do what we love. Hobbies provide a slice of work-free and responsibility-free time in your schedule, and allow you to recharge your batteries while doing something we enjoy. It may seem simple, but engaging in these little acts of self-care will make you more resilient when that stressful period rolls around.