Top 7 Ways to Reduce Stress (no purchase necessary)

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Recently, I’ve noticed many people (clients, friends, family and colleagues) are struggling with finding a balance between their demanding careers, home life and their health. Folks are going through the day on 5-6 hrs of sleep or less (sleep interrupted by kids or worry), downing tons of coffee or 5-hour somethings, getting food on the run and still trying to exercise.

Sound familiar?

If your life is like this, it’s time to take action.  Here’s what I advise for my clients (in order of importance):

1.  SLEEP!  Sleep is crucial at this point. Without it, your body has not repaired itself from the day’s demands. You won’t productive, your cortisol and other stress hormones will run high making you crave sugars and starchy carbs, you won’t be able to think straight and you’ll be impatient and cranky.

  • Sleep cycles average about 90 minutes. Try to get full cycles into your night’s rest.  So that means sleep 61/2 hours or 8 hours. Notice how much sleep leaves YOU feeling refreshed when you wake up. Then aim for that amount every night.
  • Write down your top 3 goals for the next day and go to bed!  Make sure you write them down. That takes them out of that endless planning loop in your brain.

2. EAT! Sometimes you just don’t have time to cook. HOWEVER, you always have a choice of what you put in your mouth. Your goal is to make the best choice possible based on what’s available.  What’s the best choice?  Whole, unprocessed food.

  • If you’re on the run, Chipotle and Moe’s are great options. Opt for the salad and hold the chips. Control the amount of rice they load onto the plate. Their food is clean and top quality. Trader Joe’s has some grab and go food in the refrigerator section. You might need 2 packages. Read the label and only use half the dressing.
  • If you’re at a restaurant, order a side salad and then make healthy choices in entrees. Or have the “sides” replaced by salad and/or veggies. Ask for sauces or dressings on the side. When you’re stressed out, skip the dessert. It will just give you a temporary high until you crash and then crave more sugar. Try eating a piece of whole fruit.

3. EXERCISE!  Not the high intensity stuff, though.

  • While it may FEEL good to workout hard when you’re stressed, high intensity circuits or cardio will add MORE stress to your body & increase your already high cortisol levels which means that you’re working against your potential fat burning.
  • Best thing to do is low to moderate cardio or movements. We aren’t looking for serious weight loss or strength training goals during periods of stress.  We’re looking for relief.  Thing movement rather than grinds.
  • Take a walk, go for a hike, go swimming, or do something else you find relaxing which still requires movement.  You can also schedule a restorative session at CoreMatters.

4.  BREATHE!  Close your eyes and take deep breaths through your nose. To  make it most effective, listen to and observe your breath.  Also, observe your thoughts.  If anything work-like or stress-related appears, banish it.  Push it away.  Do this for 1 minute.  Gradually add more time. Or do it more than once per day.

5.  SMILE!   Sounds silly, but a soft smile will actually make you feel better.  Try combining it with closed-eye breathing.

6. DETOX your environment.  Cancel the bug spray or the lawn treatment at least during a stressful period.  Clean your house with Norwex products (using only water). Take the toxins out of your cosmetics and body care products.  (We like Neals Yard.) These all add to physical stress.  Whenever possible, eliminate them.

7. LAUGH!  Find someone to spend some silly time with.  Go to a movie (ok, that’s going to cost money…).  Take a walk together.  Get out a board game.  Enjoy another human.

So there you have it.  Start introducing these healthy practices into your life today.  And if you need help, we’re always here.

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