Stress is inevitable, managing it for a healthy lifestyle is essential.
Yesterday we began a three-part series on how to manage stress when it inevitably arrives in your day-to-day. Stress can be physical, emotional, or psychological, and it can have effects on all of your body’s systems, including your immunity. In times such as these, your ability to manage stress healthfully is essential to staying well, maintaining a strong mindset, and caring for your relationships. Here are two tips for today:
Maybe you enjoy exercise and fitting it into your routine during times of stress is more necessity than chore, or maybe your situation is just the opposite. Either way, your body NEEDS to move, and exercise is a great way to get your mind off of stressful-situations, produce some endorphins (and we all know what Elle Woods says about that), and boost immune function. When your mind is overwhelmed, it feels good to move!
Trying to stick with activities that you genuinely enjoy since the whole point of exercising away stress-response is adding some joy to your day. Go for a walk with your dog or jog alongside your kids while they bike. Take it slow through the woods and look for signs of Spring. Find a quiet spot in your house and do yoga or simply stretch any body part that you can think of. Clean off and flip that old tire in the garage or move that pile of wood stove logs from one side of the yard to another. Clean a room. Organize a closet. Weed the garden.
The possibilities are endless! The most important things are to give your mind something new and productive to focus on, to do something healthy for your body, and to add the opportunity for joy into your day.
Sleep, But Not Too Much
Stress can often strip us of the opportunity to rest well. Lack of rest can put you at greater risk for sickness and burnout, so getting on a schedule that allows you to begin each day well rested is very important during times of stress. Here are some ideas for things things you can do to fall and stay asleep:
Leave caffeine alone for the back half of the day if it affects your wakefulness, decide on a bed time and begin to wind-down an hour before, develop a nighttime routine so that your body understands that it is time to rest, unplug from devices and lights that can keep both your mind and body working overtime instead of settling down. Proper sleep is important to your immune function as well as your decision-making and emotional management abilities. Give your body its’ best possible chance of managing well.
Locking the doors and staying in bed constantly, though, can also depress your system and put you at physical and emotional risk. Rest is intended to fuel you for activity, so be sure to keep them in balance. At some point in the day get up, clean up, open the curtains, get outside, move, and eat. That way, your body will be ready to sleep peacefully at the right times.
Keep your body strong and resilient by managing stress in ways that allow you to thrive and keep moving toward your health and fitness goals. This is a time to lean into relationship (though, perhaps virtually), be wise about the messages you internalise, and, certainly, to pay attention to your good health. If you missed yesterday’s tips for stress, check back for those and stay tuned for more to come tomorrow.