By Jen Gendron: Health & Wellness Coach
In today’s busy world, finding down time and any sort of “balance” can be quite a challenge. In fact, many of us struggle just to get through the day and make a dent in our never ending “to do” list never mind finding any sort of time for ourselves. For me, this is a constant struggle. As Dan & I have embarked on making some changes to our own lifestyle, this is a big one for me and definitely tops the list of priorities for change – however, here we are two weeks in and it is the one that I have neglected the most!
While physical activity and healthy eating are both super important and play a big role in our overall health, managing our stress levels and taking care of our mental and emotional healthy is equally important. If left unchecked, stress can leave us feeling drained and can manifest itself in to many physical symptoms including: low energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches & pains (mine loves to show up in my back, neck & shoulders), insomnia, frequent illness like colds and infections, clenched jaw, grinding teeth and many more. On the emotional side of things, feeling agitated, frustrated, overwhelmed and moody and having a hard time relaxing and quieting the mind are just a few of the symptoms caused by chronic stress.
Although it is impossible to completely avoid stress in our lives, there are definitely ways that we can work to manage it and overcome its effects. By taking time out each day for even just a short time to participate in activities and rituals that reduce our stress levels, we will not only feel better physically, but we will be better able to handle things mentally with improved concentration and focus. We will be more relaxed, and our decision making will improve allowing us to accomplish more in less time.
As I remind myself of how important this is in my own life, I have spent some time reflecting on the things that help me the most to combat stress and find some balance in my life. This week, I have committed to practicing them and making a point of carving out some time for me. Here are my top tips for relieving stress and finding some balance in life:
• Get outside daily – spending time in nature is relaxing and rejuvenating. Whether you enjoy some time just sitting outside, walking in the woods or going for a run, find a way to get out and spend some time in the fresh air if only for a few minutes each day.
• Meditate daily – meditation is a calming practice that will allow you to calm your mind and focus on your breathing. As we rush around in multiple directions each day, we often don’t realize how we slip into shallow breathing. Taking some time to sit quietly and focus on your breath can make a huge difference in how you feel physically & mentally. Don’t worry about trying to completely clear your mind – just let thoughts come and go. Just focus on your breath and take note of any tension in your body and slowly start to let it go.
• Spend some time journaling – taking the time each day to journal your thoughts can be a real stress reliever. Sometimes we have so many things going on in our heads that it keeps us awake at night. By spending some time journaling we can unload some of those thoughts for another day – taking them out of our mind and on to paper.
• Keep a gratitude journal – try to come up with three things each and every day that you are grateful for and try to make sure they are not the same things each day. By taking some time to think about all of the good things that happen around us, it can help us to let go of some of the negative thoughts and feelings that cause us stress each day.
• Be physically active – there are multiple studies out there now showing the incredible benefits of physical activity and how we will not only see benefits physically, but there are multiple to our mental health as well. A good workout can help you blow off some steam and physically release the stress that is built up in your body.
Finding balance in our lives and carving out time for ourselves can be a challenge in our busy lives however, it is an investment in our overall health that is well worth the effort. What will you commit to this week to help relieve some of your stress and find some balance for you? Share it with me here or firstname.lastname@example.org