Stress is something I battle with on a daily basis, and only in the last few months have I started to see how much this can effect me. I think in an odd way, being extremely stressed is what drives me forward in my life, but the process can be very emotional…think lots of chocolate and a classic Coldplay album on repeat. At times stress completely takes over my life, I have bad anxiety, insomnia and I’m a walking, talking mood swing, as much as I hate to admit it! I’ve recently been discovering and introducing a few different tools into my life to manage stress, which I’ve been finding incredibly useful. I thought I’d blog about them today, incase they may help you too.
The one thing that helps me more than anything when I’m stressed is getting outside. Walking in the now crisp winter air is incredible for clearing my mind. I always come back home with a different perspective on my problems and feel ready to make a fresh start at tackling them. I live close to some beautiful parks in London so if I can, I’ll walk in a little nature, taking it all in and seeing the bigger picture.
This doesn’t necessarily mean treating yourself to a slice of chocolate cake, but indulging yourself in something that makes you feel good. For me it’s an evening out to dinner with my girlfriends, a long epsom salt bath or a night cuddled on the couch watching my new favourite series on Netflix. If I’m going through a particularly tough time at work, doing any of these things seems like a waste of time. I get restless thinking I should still be working, but in reality giving myself time to relax is essential. The time-off is an investment in making sure I’m recharged so I can work efficiently the next day.
Switch the caffeine for greens
Heavy workload, long hours, and lots of stress makes you crave a constant stream of coffee, but it really is the last thing you need. An overload of caffeine can intensify the stress making you feel anxious, jittery, and disturb your sleep pattern. As unattractive as it may seem when all you want to do is eat your feelings and drink cups full of concentration, this is the time you really need to cram in those dark leafy greens. Greens like spinach are rich in folate which aids production of the mood-regulating neurotransmitters, which include serotonin and dopamine. Another great mood boosting food is cacao which promotes the release of endorphins and serotonin in the body, both of which are feel-good hormones. Vitamin B6 is needed by the body to make the previously mentioned serotonin, so make sure you include this in your diet along side the cacao! You can find this in walnuts, bananas and (my favourite) sweet potatoes.
When we get stressed it’s easy to take smaller breaths and move at a million miles an hour. Sometimes just being still in the moment can bring focus back into your life, and allow you to tackle whatever it is that you need to do. I use an app called Headspace, which gives you exactly what it says. It really helps me to see meditation as a way to help me re-balance, breathe and de-stress, by simply just being. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Workout your feelings in the studio!
Just like indulging in a little YOU time, working out can seem like wasting extra time you don’t have, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Exercise is the best stress relief, and leaves you with a renewed energy that no amount of caffeine can give you. I try and schedule my workouts like very important meetings – in the diary to stay.