We live in a busy and tumultuous world so it is natural to feel stressed. Sometimes, we may look for “comfort” in food, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits. Fortunately, there are many ways of combatting stress in healthier ways.
Stress management is a whole discussion unto itself, but here are some quick, useful tips to help you manage:
Exercise… When you are stressed, going for a brisk walk, especially outdoors and in nature can be very therapeutic. Try to get your heart rate up for at least 15-20 minutes of the walk as this will be help dissipate the adrenaline and stress hormones when you are stressed. In addition to this, exercise signals your brain to release dopamine and serotonin which are responsible for making you feel more calm and happy. As a result, research has shown that participating in some form of daily exercise will significantly reduce stress and anxiety. The key here is consistency, so try to find a time that will work with your schedule on a regular basis.
Meditate… Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool that teaches your brain to be “in the moment”. Rather than dwelling on future worries or negative thoughts, it teaches your brain to focus on the present. It allows you be “in the moment”, so you can be a more effective partner, parent, friend, and employee. Think of this as push-ups for your brain. At first, it may be difficult, frustrating, and challenging, but overtime you will develop mental strength. There are many free Apps available for mindfulness meditation. Some of our favourites include Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer.
Sleep… Sleep is very important in rejuvenating our mind and bodies. Its role in helping us cope with stress cannot be overestimated. Unfortunately, with stress, we often develop sleep issues such as insomnia. The average adult needs at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A few basic sleep hygiene tips include keeping a regular sleep/wake schedule all week including the weekends, keeping your room dark, quiet and only for sleep (no work or TV in the bedroom), and avoiding screen time 2-3 hours before bed time. Avoid caffeine after 12 pm and avoid alcohol in general as it negatively affects your sleep architecture. And yes, outdoor exercise is extremely helpful to regulate your circadian rhythm to help you have a more sound sleep. For more helpful sleep tips, go to The Sleep Institute’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thesleepinstituteyyc/
One very helpful resource is www.anxietycanada.com . This is an entire website devoted to explaining anxiety, how it affects our bodies, and useful tips on managing anxiety.
Create Barriers to Unhealthy Habits
When you know you have a weakness for certain foods that you crave when stressed, make it harder for yourself to access them. Don’t keep them in your house and avoid buying them as a part of your regular grocery buying routine. If you find yourself procrastinating and wasting time on social media, force yourself to get dressed and get yourself out of the house. Start with a walk. Use the walk as a “detour” to the behaviour you were about to engage in. Delaying and distracting are great ways to help you get over the hump of wanting to go for the old faithful food in the fridge or the pantry. It will be invigorating for you to get into the sun and breathe the fresh air (to be fair, it’s also invigorating on cloudy or rainy, or snowy days…it’s just a lot harder to get yourself out the door but YOU CAN DO IT!) You will feel so much better for having done it and you will have gained a sense of empowerment to take on the next challenge!
Remember, our team is always here to help you! You can ask questions of a general nature in any of the groups on the website and someone else might just have the answer you need or a tip or trick that you could use as you begin or continue your journey to better health!