4 powerful tips to “Stress Down”
Don’t wait for one day each year to “stress down”!
Lite n’ Easy’s exercise physiologist and wellness coach, Bell Silverthorne shares 4 powerful tips to looking after your physical and mental health every day.
It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, what you do or whether you consider yourself a happy-go-lucky person, there will be days when you’re going to feel completely stressed out. Don’t believe me? Research shows that 90% of Australians feel stressed at some stage – with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work.
Stress is a part of life, and it can be a good thing. If we never encountered any stress whatsoever, we might not ever leave bed. However, there are times when stress can feel overwhelming and we struggle with how to manage it.
Senior Clinical Psychologist and Head of Clinical Services at Black Dog Institute, Laura Kampel, explains that “stress can kick in so that you can rise to meet challenges, it’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation or sharpens your concentration.”
But too much stress can take a heavy toll on our wellbeing. “Stress becomes unhelpful when it is prolonged and when someone feels that the demands of their work/life are greater than their abilities, skills or coping strategies,” Laura says.
Detecting if your stress levels are unhealthy
Recognising when we are under stress is not always easy, especially if that stress has developed over time and we are unaware of the effect it is having on us. Being aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress is an important first step in being able to identify stress and put into action some management strategies.
Some physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
Some of the psychological and emotional signs:
- Depression or anxiety
- Anger, irritability, or restlessness
- Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Racing thoughts or constant worry
- Problems with your memory or concentration
- Making bad decisions
And you may be:
- eating more or less
- withdrawing from others
- procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax
Given how it can profoundly affect an individual, as well as more broadly a family or organisation, it’s heartening to know there are so many amazing events supporting and educating us around mental health; from how to identify the signs, to self-care strategies and where to get help.
Lifeline’s Stress Down Day on the 24th July is one such event, a fun and easy initiative designed to reduce stress and raise vital funds for Lifeline Australia. Stress Down Day promotes happiness, encourages help and raises awareness of suicide prevention through raising funds for Lifeline’s crisis support services.
So, what are my top 4 recommendations to Stress Down?
1. Get those giggle juices flowing
There are lots of ways you can have a laugh and help take a load off which are free or low cost, by yourself or with others.
2. Eating a nutritionally balanced diet full of whole foods
There is a strong connection between mood and food. Studies have shown that those with severe mental illness have higher amounts of pro-inflammatory foods (think ultra-processed foods), refined grains, saturated and trans fats and added sugar. At the same time, they also have lower intakes of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts etc. This link has a role independent of physical activity levels and body weight.
3. Move your body
Regular exercise may increase the level of brain serotonin, a neurotransmitter involving mood regulation, sleep, libido, appetite and other functions. Problems in the serotonin pathways of the brain have been linked to depression. Exercise can increase the level of endorphins in the brain which have ‘mood-lifting’ properties.
So much of our thoughts are either thinking ahead or thinking about what’s happened in the past – which you have no control over. Bring things back to the present. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your breath for a few moments, or how the cup of tea in your hands helps warm you up, really savour the taste of your tea. Practicing mindfulness helps rewire your brain so you are less likely to react as negatively in times of stress.
My Advice, don’t wait for one day each year to “stress down”. Incorporate things to look after your physical and mental health every day, because really, you can’t have one without the other. If you or someone you know is feeling or behaving very stressed, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit http://www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp
Lifeline is national charity providing 24 hour support to all Australians who are experiencing emotional distress. Lifeline services include; over the phone support, face to face counselling, bereavement support groups, ‘survivors of suicide’ support groups and financial counselling. Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis support line receives a call every 30 seconds. So how can you ‘Stress Down’ and enjoy the lighter moments in life?
How can Lite n’ Easy help?
Lite n’ Easy offers a variety of healthy meal plans on our chef-inspired seasonal menu, backed by expert dietitians. Enjoy the convenience of delicious, healthy meals delivered to your door.