Back in September I discussed a selection of useful ways to help eradicate stress from your life. As this is such an important part of maintaining optimum health, I would like to revisit this subject today. Although a completely stress free life is something that has to be worked towards slowly as you find ways to combat negativity and sustain positivity, there are several things that you can do to combat stress as and when it occurs. Dealing with the immediate emotional side effects of problems is the best way to stop them permeating your mind and dragging your mood down for the remainder of the day! When you find ways to do this successfully, you could rapidly notice other areas of your life improving also! This is because you are taking conscious steps to preserving your happiness and processing stressful situations instead of allowing them to continue to affect you.
The first thing that you can try is to stop the stressful situation in its tracks and replace it with a positive action. This can manifest in several different ways, from listening to a song that you love to watching a funny, light-hearted television show. Even a short amusing clip on YouTube can cause you to laugh and therefore replace the feelings of stress with feelings of amusement. This then helps your brain to deal with the problematic situation as it is not solely focusing on the stress that you are feeling. You can also try looking at photos of beautiful places, bringing a happy memory to the forefront of your mind or indulging with one of your favourite snacks or drinks. The basic premise here is to encourage feelings of happiness instead of letting the negativity take hold. Distracting yourself may seem like an incredibly simple solution but it can be very effective!
Positive affirmations are a fantastic way to defeat stress as well as anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. By choosing a positive affirmation and saying it out loud to yourself during periods of stress or sadness, you can remind yourself of your worth and work to get back to a balanced place of happiness. You can either look online for endless affirmations to choose from or simply create your own that are personal to your needs and your experience. If you are in a place where you do not feel comfortable saying a positive affirmation out loud when you feel it is necessary, then close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat it in your mind until you start to feel more relaxed and balanced. When you use positive affirmations regularly you will create consistent feelings of positivity in your mind. This can do wonders for your mental health and ability to combat stress when it begins to appear.
As well as these useful ways to distract from stress when it occurs, you can also use the following preventative measures to keep your mood balanced.
First of all avoid caffeine completely! This stimulant impacts your adrenaline levels which is exactly what you do not want to be messing with in the battle to avoid stress! Although adrenaline gives you a short boost of energy, which is why many people drink coffee, you will later become fatigued and even possibly depressed as the levels of this hormone fluctuate. Coffee will also influence other hormones in the body. For example, the efficiency of how your body absorbs adenosine, a hormone which calms the body, can be inhibited by the presence of caffeine. Furthermore, the stress hormone cortisol can be increased by the presence of caffeine. This can not only impact stress levels but also cause weight gain and general moodiness.
Secondly, maintain your blood sugar levels at an optimum balance by eating small, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day instead of larger meals further apart. This will help to keep your energy up and prevent a spike in blood sugar. This will also help you to avoid over-eating as each meal that you consume can be a smaller, healthier portion, such as a serving of fruit or nuts. The cyclic habit of over-eating and stress can be an easy one to experience and as one leads into the other it can also be very difficult to break free of this habit. Encouraging yourself to eat mindfully instead of emotionally is a great way to focus your mind on disconnecting your eating habits from your feelings. Mindful eating aims to help you develop an awareness of your dietary habits, helping you to stop sabotaging yourself!
Finally, make sure you are interacting and communicating with positive people every day. Share your struggles with them and listen to their advice. This will help you to feel less alone with your stress which in turn makes it more manageable!