It’s been that kind of week hasn’t it? Aside from the US Election (which has been pretty full-on) there has been a building-up of plans for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday arrangements (another vote pleaser or not).
Have you found that, like me, your to-do list is extra long again; your inbox is getting fatter; paperwork (and bills) are gathering towering proportions; and the holiday season is already giving you the heebie-jeebies? Well take heart that you’re not alone … and things could be a tad easier.
We’ve asked some experts for their top tips on how to reduce your stress at home and at work as the holidays approach …. just pull up a chair and read on ….
GUEST POST: WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR STRESS
Surround Yourself with Healthy Snacks
Reaching for sugary snacks can leave you feeling more tired and stressed than you were when first sat down or rose from your bed this morning.
It is important to keep your energy levels up and sustained throughout the day with healthy meals, supplemented by balanced snacks if you need them that won’t leave you feeling worse than before!
Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com, explains:
“Stick to snacks that don’t raise your blood sugar too quickly, such as nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, as these contain some protein and good fats that will reduce your cravings. They are a good source of magnesium, which helps with efficient energy production while also being calming to the nervous system.”
Make sure you keep some bariatric- and desk-friendly or counter-top snacks to hand throughout the day to keep you calm and well away from high-sugar offerings. Treat yourself to say an oat cake to give you a morning boost, and miso soup or a pot of natural yoghurt with some fruit in the afternoon.
“DO make sure there is protein in EVERY snack if you can. Protein includes eggs (free range & organic ideally), fish, meat, nuts and seeds (unsalted & unroasted), legumes (peas, beans & lentils), soya (fermented is best, such as miso and tempeh), and dairy (organic and grass fed most ideal).”
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There is a good reason why Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution campaign has taken off – We all feel better, less stressed and more productive after a good nights sleep!
Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of ‘Natural Alternatives to Sugar’ explains:
“As a society we are sleeping less; the time we sleep each night has reduced from 9 hours to 7.5 hours since the 1900’s. Sleep is important for your health because it gives your body time to recharge its batteries and repair cells and tissue. When you don’t get enough or good quality sleep you can feel irritable, with poor concentration and, of course, tired.”
“Lack of sleep can have effects similar to those brought on by too much alcohol. Those with sleep deprivation suffer from reduced concentration, memory loss and are more likely to make mistakes and have a slower reaction time.”
To ensure you have a good night sleep, top up your diet with stress-reducing magnesium, Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist adds:
“Try and include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables.”
Have Some Minutes of Mindfulness
With the abundance of mindfulness apps on the market it is easy to take a quiet 5-minute break with a little bit of meditation.
“Meditation is now gaining mainstream recognition through scientific research for its ability to reduce stress. Those in stressful jobs or situations can benefit enormously from meditative practice. It can be done anywhere, such as on the bus or train into work and even 5 minutes can be helpful to clear your mind and feel refreshed.”
Brighten Your Home or Office Environment
A gloomy office or home, lit by fluorescent lighting isn’t the most inspiring place to work or relax, and studies show can lower productivity levels and heighten stress.
Try and let as much natural light into your home and office, as not only will these keep you more alert and focused, it will lower your stress levels.
Integrating plants into your home and office environment, in our case kitchen office, has also been proven to lower stress and inspire a positive attitude. We’ve given ours a face lift to see if this helps …
Dehydration is a key cause of migraines, headaches and other aches and pains that will only increase with stress.
Shona explains: “The guidelines are for us to drink 8 glasses of water per day. However we don’t need to get our intake from drink alone – foods can contribute towards our daily intake of water.”
If you find it hard to keep your glass topped up, why not try and make water more interesting with these suggestions from nutritionist and weight loss expert, Lily Soutter:
“You can infuse water with cucumber, lemon, mint, strawberries or blueberries overnight for refreshing flavoured water.”
Alternatively, she adds:
“Drink iced herbal tea by refrigerating a brew of your favourite flavoured tea.”
Sometimes when you feel stressed you can feel it rising in your neck and shoulders all you want to do is feel your muscles relax.
Lynne Robinson, Founder of Body Control Pilates and author of ‘Pilates for Life’ says:
“To keep yourself feeling fit and healthy, why not set yourself the goal of doing 5 minutes Pilates at your desk or whenever you get a break at home? If you’ve time for coffee, you’ve time for Pilates!”
“Even though you are only doing 5 minutes, you need to focus, and do the exercises mindfully. Then try to retain what you’ve learnt with you as you move around the home and office.”
You can do this exercise from the comfort of your chair:
A fabulous exercise for the spine, this will also work your waist.
For this exercise to work, you need to be sitting at your desk on a swivel chair.
Sit tall on your swivel chair, with your weight evenly balanced on both sitting bones. If feasible, place your feet together resting on the legs of the chair (this will depend on the type of chair … you may have to improvise and hold your feet together just off the floor … if this is the case, you will have to use your abdominals more). Hold the desk in front of you with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, palms down.
Use your core connection (internal zip) as, when and if you need it to control your alignment and movements.
- Breathe into the ribcage and lengthen up through the spine.
- Breathe out keeping your upper body still and facing the front, rotate your lower body with the chair. You may twist as far as you are comfortable, as long as your upper body remains squarely facing forwards.
- Breathe in and slowly, with control, twist back to the starting position.
Repeat five times each way.