Stress is a feeling we all know well … perhaps too well. Mix a high-pressure environment with a hardworking and driven personality and it’s no wonder stress levels can easily spiral out of control.
The result: overeating, anxiety, sleeplessness and negative thoughts that affect us physically, mentally, socially, spiritually and even professionally.
So, how do you keep stress from impacting your overall well-being? Follow these 6 tried and trusted habits of (practically) stress-free professionals.
1) Zone in on Those Zzzz
Restful slumber not only prepares you for a busy day ahead but also keeps exhaustion from exacerbating the stressors that will undoubtedly arise. Dealing with stress-related insomnia or just need to boost the quality of your rest? Experts have found that a bedtime snack with a small amount of complex carbs (like plain popcorn or oatmeal) is a great prescription for a good night’s sleep. Where you sleep is also essential so make sure your pillows are supportive, your sheets are luxurious and your room is both dark and cool.
2) Step Out
Take a moment to leave your desk and remind yourself what daytime looks like! While sun bathing is never a good idea, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, a bit of sun and fresh air each day has a multitude positive effects. So, take a short break outside (even if it is just to pace the parking lot) to help you decompress, clear your head and recharge. Cheaper than a vacation and almost as effective.
3) Limit Your Buzz
Easing back on caffeine consumption can keep stress-related jitters and mood swings at bay. You may not even realize how strongly caffeine affects your body and temperament until you reduce intake. The only exception: before a workout – recent studies have shown that drinking caffeinated beverages before exercise can boost fitness performance.
4) Keep it Regular
Sticking to a workout schedule not only keeps your body fit, but also helps steer you clear of unnecessary after-work drinks, staying too late at your desk, or blowing off the gym out of exhaustion. By attending your yoga class every Tuesday, for example, you are committing yourself to devoting a specified period of time to your well-being. That’s a good feeling, both mentally and physically.
5) Snack Smartly
It’s essential to snack regularly throughout stressful days in order to keep our metabolisms up and our energy levels high. But many snack foods can lead to feelings of sluggishness, bloating or hyperactivity, all of which compound negative stress-related symptoms. So, don’t let yourself be tempted during periods of stress-induced craziness by the calling of the vending machine. Rather, keep healthy snacks (like unsalted almonds) at your desk in order to limit counterproductive stress-fueled noshing.
6) Think Positively
When are faced with stressful situations, our minds often weaken and our usual optimism can turn into nagging, negative and distracting thoughts. These thoughts, in turn, create more stress, perpetuating a negative cycle. Taking just a moment to close your eyes and focus on one or two things for which you are grateful, though, helps us break the downward anxiety spiral, refocus our energy, increase productivity and decrease stress!