The past year has been undeniably tough on everyone - the fear of coronavirus, the anxiety over job stability, the isolation from our loved ones, the boredom of being locked in our homes, missed memories, - I’m pretty sure no one will have gone the past year without being stressed, and if they have, are they of this planet?!
However, obviously, it’s not just the pandemic that we’ve dealt with over last year that causes stress in people’s lives, that’s just the first time we’ve all experienced stress due to the exact same thing!
We’ve all experienced periods of time that are particularly stressful in our life, and we most likely will again (I know, you don’t want to hear that!). So, it’s important that we know how to deal with stress to stop ourselves from becoming anxious bundles of stress 24/7.
If you think the only way to deal with stress is by hitting the gym or doing a guided meditation before bed, then this is for you. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with those things, but the key to stress relief is being kind to yourself in the long run! Yes, you have to be nice to yourself, forever!
If you don’t deal with stress when you’re experiencing a period of stressfulness, you will most likely succumb to the physical and mental effects of stress, and trust me, you don’t want to!
Stress increases our cortisol levels and cortisol levels not only put the mind and body on high alert and increase anxiety, but also mess with our body’s balanced system, weaken the immune system, leave us more susceptible to illnesses and infections, reduce the quality of sleep, and interfere with important hormonal functions.
Our bodies can cope with having increased cortisol levels for a short time, but if we start to experience chronic stress, real harm can be done to our physical and mental health. So, that’s exactly why we need to know how to reduce stress levels.
Don’t panic, I’m not just telling you to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself without a proper explanation of what that means - this is not one of those platforms!
However, the basis of stress relief is being kind to yourself.
If you are kind to yourself by fuelling yourself with proper nutrition, you make sure you get enough sleep, you practice mindfulness, you spend time with the people that bring you joy, and you take time off from work, you will reduce your stress levels. Then, if you use this formula and constantly strive to be kind to yourself, you’ll actually most likely avoid experiencing intense periods of stress in your life again.
Here’s my formula for living a life that’s stress-free! When you’re experiencing periods of stress, it’s even more important that you practice these things to get you back to a peaceful and healthy state of mind.
The best way to actually navigate stress is by tuning in and listening to what your body wants and needs. Do you need to lay down for a few hours and catch up on your favourite series without checking your work emails? Do you need to call a friend and talk it out whilst cooking dinner? Do you need to get outside and stretch?
Your body knows what it wants and what it wants is to help you through this stressful time. So, listen to it and don’t say ‘yes’ to anything that doesn’t align with what your body wants.
The worst thing you can do when you’re stressed, or actually any time, is judge yourself. A lot of people start to judge themselves for feeling stressed and for experiencing anxiety, but there’s absolutely no need to judge yourself for this - we all experience it. Also, don’t judge yourself for how you respond to stress - if your body is telling you to stop and have a break, don’t judge yourself or make yourself feel guilty for slowing down and taking some time out.
Practicing mindfulness can help relax and centre you, as well as help you find peace and tranquillity when you otherwise can’t. Mindfulness can look like a wide range of practices, from yoga and meditation to journaling and just sitting quietly. Try and find a mindfulness practice that you can incorporate into your daily life and you’ll find the stress washing off you (oh, cleansing meditative showers are a dream too!).
Spending time around people that we love and people that bring us joy can boost our serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine levels, combatting stress directly and boosting our mood. In addition, the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” really is true, so try and confide in someone about your stresses and you might not only figure out ways to solve the problems you’re facing, but you might also benefit from being supported by that person.
Nutrition directly impacts our minds and bodies, and therefore if you’re not properly fuelling your body, you might find that your stress is exasperated. So, although having a cheeky bit of chocolate to boost your mood is absolutely fine, you still need to prioritize proper nutrition, especially when you’re feeling particularly stressed. Focus on getting your greens, add fruit into your diet, and take a multivitamin or an adaptogen formula if you need some extra help. Hint: adaptogenic herbs directly help the way that your body reacts to stress, so they will definitely be beneficial to you.
If you’re working all hours, every day, you’re not only likely to be stressed by your non-existent work/life balance, but you’re also putting yourself at risk of burnout, which leads to unfathomable amounts of stress and anxiety. So, make sure you don’t overdo it. Create a work/life balance for yourself and speak to your boss, clients, or managers if you need help with your workload. The key to getting out of burnout is not experiencing it in the first place. So, take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen!
The takeaway from this article really is that you should be treating yourself as you would a loved one. Be just as kind to yourself as you would be to someone that you care about. If you focus on being kind to yourself and taking care of yourself and align your life with this at the centre, you’re naturally going to reduce your stress levels and deal with stress more efficiently.
For more wellbeing tips and tricks, head over to Juno's Wellbeing Journal.
Worried about growing old? These characters will show you that it's not all about dentures, dementia and going deaf!
Whether it's secret family recipes that date back decades or new inventions you make at every dinner party, get your recipes in one place!