I'm so honored to welcome the third in a series of guests posts from the awesome Boss Mom community! Thank you to Amy Napoli for this week's post!
We hear about it on the news, in magazines, and from our doctors. We know we should minimize its impact on ourselves and families.
Our bodies are wired to manage stress. However, we live in an age of where it’s occurring continuously, throughout most of our day. The body is set up to respond with various hormones and physical responses when it feels stress, but it’s unable to discern between stress of work and being chased by a lion. It just knows it’s being stressed.
So. what’s the big deal? How is it effecting our health?
Uncontrolled stress can lead to health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Physically, we can feel symptoms of headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, and change in sex drive, to name a few. Stress can also affect our mood, focus at work, and relationships with other’s.
5 areas to help manage your stress:
Sleep: Lack of sleep or deep sleep affects stress levels and in return, stress can cause insomnia. Implement healthy sleep habits – wake and rise at the same time, minimize exposure to blue light in the evening (turn off those electronics), and limit alcohol and caffeine. Make sleep a priority in your schedule so your body has time to rest and repair.
Nutrition: Improper nutrition can cause us to be foggy headed, irritable and cranky due to sugar spikes and drops, and decrease our immune health. Look to fuel your body well with a balanced diet of whole foods (think lean protein, veggies, and whole grains). Minimize cravings and mood swings by avoiding highly processed, sugar foods. So often, when we are stressed out we will reach for comfort foods or unhealthy options. Ask yourself HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) and be aware of why you are choosing the foods you are picking.
Exercise: Get up and move! Exercise is known to help lower stress levels by producing endorphins in our bodies, promoting better sleep, and stabilizing moods. Pick the exercise you enjoy and schedule it into your daily agenda. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to walk around the block or stretch.
Prep & Plan: Help control daily stressors by having a plan for the day. Some of the biggest added layers of stress come from our hectic daily schedules and meal times. Once a week sit down and look at where everyone in your house needs to be. Schedule into the calendar and look for potential pitfalls before they occur. Have a plan to ask for help so you are not double booked and running in two different directions. Plan dinners for the week and take time over the weekend to begin prep to make meal time smoother. Cut veggies and cook meals that are nutritious and can be reheated easily. Always have a plan B! Even the best prepped plans can derail with unexpected changes. It will be so much easier to change focus when you know you have a plan in place.
Self-Care: This is the most overlooked area of managing stress. First, it’s not selfish, it’s essential. We have plans to take care of everyone else, but in the end our own batteries are depleted. Ultimately, we have nothing left to give those who need us most. A day at the spa or a fabulous vacation could be the cure, but not reality for most of us. Try to incorporate daily moments of self-care that are simple and require minimal time. Sit for 5 minutes with your eyes closed and breathe deeply, meditate, or read a book. Small moments will add up to a calmer day.
There will always be stress in our lives, but our ability to handle or minimize it greatly influence its impact on our health. Set yourself up for success and begin to incorporate the above techniques. Habits take time to become part of our routine, so continue to focus on fitting them in daily. You are so worth the effort!
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I help busy, ambitious leaders to step off the emotional eating roller coaster, so they can lose weight and keep it off, still eat all the foods they love, and finally find the work life balance they crave.