Stress, good and bad, is an inevitable part of life.
But when you’re running on empty or tackling too much of it, good stress quickly turns negative. If left unmanaged, it has the power to destroy you mentally and physically.
The only way to stay on top is by doing whatever you can to reduce stress.
There are many reasons why stress strikes first thing. Sleep is usually relaxing. Yet when you wake and your brain switches on, the rush of anxieties can be all-consuming. Stressful patterns become habitual. To minimise them, it’s important to create healthy and comfortable routines into your day.
Here’s how to reduce stress levels before they get out of hand.
1. Use an Acupressure Mat
Acupressure mats are designed to relieve tension and restore balance to your body’s energy.
Similar to acupuncture, which inserts fine needles into pressure points, an acupressure mat applies pressure to your body non-invasively. It works as a natural pain relief for headaches, neck or backaches, muscle repair and injury recovery. The rounded-tip spikes stimulate your nervous system, releasing tension from the meridians on your spine and shoulders to encourage full-body relaxation.
Using an acupressure mat eases stress and anxiety by releasing happy hormones and encourages mind/body relaxation, deep sleep and mental clarity. The ancient Chinese therapy is used at home, unlike acupuncture which is a treatment performed in a medical practice.
Tip: Get the most from an acupressure mat with these positions for minimising pain, stress and sleepless nights.
2. Boost Your Happy Hormones
Everybody has four happy hormones to satisfy; endorphins (for dealing with stress and pain), serotonin (mood stabiliser), dopamine (the feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (the love and trust hormone). When unbalanced, they’ll leave you anxious and depleted.
The results are emotional and physical. Naturally, stressful schedules disrupt the neurochemicals’ balance in the body. These critical brain chemicals control your wellbeing. So it pays to keep them in shape by finding natural mood boosters.
Effective ways to do this are:
- Go for a walk to wake up (as little as 10 minutes makes a positive difference)
- Make your morning coffee or tea (green tea is full of antioxidants for an extra health kick)
- Spend time in the garden
- Have a laugh
- Listen to music
- Practice meditation
- Read a book
- Listen to a podcast
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
We’re no strangers to the benefits of a good breakfast.
Yet, statistics show more than half of Australians skip the most important meal of the day. Why? Too many commitments and stress. Busy lifestyles are changing the way people eat breakfast. But without nutritional support first thing, you’re left feeling flat and fatigued.
Make time for good food by being smart about how you approach breakfast. Many people are tied to the nostalgic ideal of sitting around the table as a family. However, when work and busy lifestyles get in the way, it’s hard to find balance.
Take the pressure off by using the night before to prep. Create simple nutrient-rich meals that are quick and easy to make, and can be eaten on the go if anyone’s on a tight schedule.
Regardless of how you eat, find balance in what you consume. Add the right things to fuel your mind and body. Spicy food, for example, increases endorphins. Oats, almond butter and eggs are best for a high-vitamin, high-protein energy hit.
Tip: Meal prep with egg muffins, freeze pre-cut fruit and veggie combos for smoothies, prepare healthy grab and go snacks like hard-boiled eggs, fruit slices or homemade muffins and put your slow cooker to good use.
4. Create Routine
Repetition is a powerful thing.
The more you do something, the more ingrained it gets. It becomes habitual. Break your old routine with a simple, healthier version. Creating a regular structure is one of the best ways to reduce stress, increase focus, form good daily habits and act more productively.
Add routine by:
- Buying a planner or using a digital organising tool to map out the day’s tasks
- Setting realistic goals
- Enjoying the system (how), not just the end goal
- Making lists
- Developing small, beneficial habits
- Avoiding negative distractions; hold off checking your phone/news, avoid checking emails until you’ve dropped the kids to school or anything else that starts your day off on the wrong foot
It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral when you’re stressed. Fortunately, through the right tools, there are effective ways to relax and restore your nervous system.
What are your stress levels like first thing in the morning? What tips can you share as to how you reduce stress? Tell us in the comments below.