This post is in response to a live viewer from LIFE with Jen, an (almost) daily Periscope broadcast I’m doing this year. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my daily show! If there’s a special topic with your body, life, or health you would like me to consider for a live broadcast, please let me know! You can Email me directly at email@example.com with your topic.
This viewer asks “Jen, I walk every day, I workout … but I am still SO stressed out. What else can I do to help me not be so dang stressed out all the time?”
First, we can be stressed & not know it. I come across this when doing my initial intake with clients. What’s happened is we’ve adjusted to our stress, and we say “it’s not that bad.” But what this is really doing is keeping us overweight, making it extra hard to lose weight, and in turn, all of this makes us more irritable and we’re not living as our best self.
In my live broadcast, I mentioned all of the ways we ARE stressed out — the symptoms. I’m not going into that here; however, I challenge you to google the symptoms of stress and look at the different cognitive, behavioral, and physical, elements that show up when we are stressed.
I know you’ll agree that you experience many of these things in your life, but you may say they “aren’t that bad.” Yet, they’re keeping you from the life you want to be living. Now — moving on to the 12 tools we can use to manage the stress in our lives. Because ya’ll — it ain’t going away!
TWELVE TOOLS TO REDUCE ANXIETY & STRESS
1. Breathing: when you find yourself extremely uptight whether in an immediate situation or just during the day, stop and focus on your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly. I know “deep breathing” sounds cliche, but it DOES work and is touted by the experts as an effective anxiety reducing strategy. Try it!
2. Count to 10 slowly: long ago I learned a trick for falling asleep — counting backwards and picturing yourself drawing the numbers either on a chalkboard or just with your finger in the air. Try this strategy when counting TO 10 or 20 if you have to. It works! It also works to put you to sleep 🙂
3. Check your SLEEP: It’s one of the most underrated health habits and it helps to control our cortisol & adrenaline hormones which are elevated and contributing to our stress levels. When you’ve got these hormones performing optimally (and sleep is a VERY effective way of doing that) you’ll be better ABLE to deal with everything going on during your days.
You’ll never eliminate all of your stress, you just can’t, but sleep can help SO much. Many people THINK they’re getting enough sleep, but when checking they’re really not. I don’t necessarily promote FITBITS, I don’t have one … but if you have one, you can use it to easily check your sleep. I recommend no less than 7 hours per night consistently and getting 8 hours over 7 makes a HUGE difference. No exceptions. There’s no replacement for sleep. Begin working your way to 7 hours tonight!
4. Daily Movement: is a must. Daily movement like walking 15-30 minutes trumps waiting until a day when you can do a large workout or a 2 hour marathon workout session. Frequency is key. Yes, the more intense you exercise the calmer and more patient you will be (I recommend keeping that intensity short – under 20 min for sure) — Just be careful, if you overdue the intensity it can backfire and have a jittery effect on your body.
Intense exercise heightens cortisol/adrenaline for a short time, but it’s not long enough to cause problems and then you get the benefits from it lowering. BUT trumping all of that is daily consistent movement, leisure walks are my favorite, no huffing & puffing AT ALL — this is what I recommend in conjunction with 1-2 short, 10-15 minute intense internal sessions per week.
5. Eat balanced meals: Don’t skip meals. When you get really hungry, your body is stressed. I don’t promote diets in any way, but just in case you are “dieting” — do not let yourself get hungry. I remember this happening for me. Again, when your body is hungry, it’s stressed. It needs fuel. When you’re body is stressed, you producing more cortisol/adrenaline hormone, those hormones cause fat loss resistance and weight GAIN. This totally cancels out the diet!
Eat whole, real foods, keep your sugar and your carbs in check …. check the nutrition of your nutrition know what I mean. It helps keep your body in balance which is what we’re looking for here.
6. Limit Alcohol & Caffeine: especially after 2pm and you may need to experiment with how much you can get away with at all. You may need to take it way down or eliminate it for a bit and see what effect this has on your body. I personally have an issue with too much caffeine, and when I’ve experimented with taking it out, my mood and stress levels change drastically. For the better. Still, I won’t give up coffee just yet, however, I know what effect that would have for me. Try it out for yourself!
7. Laugh: Find some funny stuff. Do the Prancercise out on your walk. I challenge you to Google Prancercise. Do a funny dance, laugh at yourself, find something funny. Humor and laughter go a long way in managing and reducing stress.
8. Social Media Detox: I recommend EVERYONE detox from social media occasionally. Except let’s not be silly … you’ll want to check in with my channel ? It’s our culture, I don’t expect you not to participate, but it CAN make us anxious it can make us stressed to see other people’s posts. It can. OR it can make us inspired and motivated DEPENDING on what you populate your pages with. You’ve got the ability, with social media, to control what you see and therefore, the ability to control your emotions and levels of stress around that. So please use this ability wisely.
9. Get Active/Get Involved: Whether it be a hobby, a social face to face group whatever. Keep busy with things you love and make sure that if this time is spent with other people, those people aren’t sitting around gossiping or being negative. That only negates WHY you are participating. You need positivity and it’s likely you may need something YOU are interested in for yourself. Find something you are interested in and figure out how to, big or small, infuse that interest into your life. Daily.
We just can’t neglect this — even when we are stressed out and crazy busy — we have to find some sort of hobby or something we do that gets US, our own human spirit, excited about life.
10. WRITE: What if instead of taking to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram to vent our issues we wrote in a journal? What if we used that writing that journal to identify patterns of what triggers our anxiety? I know, I know, I used to do the social media vent, too. I’d go to Facebook when I had an issue with something or someone and publicly rant about it.
In fact, I recently wanted to do this, but stopped myself because I remember it does no good. It can actually bring MORE attention to our problems that hundreds of our social friends didn’t know we had in the first place. So … I recommend getting a journal, writing what you are feeling, and watching the patterns.
11. Therapy: It sounds serious, and we may not think our stress is bad enough to actually talk to a professional about it. Yet, we may need to. I know a handful of coaches that swear by therapy sessions. It’s a place to be heard and to work through your life to get better to BE better and handle Life better. Can you do it on your own, of course, you probably can …. it’s just a idea and you need to know it can be of benefit.
12. Maintain a Positive Attitude & Accept that you can’t control everything: Again, kind of cliche when we just say it like that. However, it DOES help to remind ourselves we can’t be perfect. Perfect does not exist. Be proud of doing better. And with anything, big or small. In all areas of life.
I think we’ve got to put our stress in perspective and ask ourselves IS IT AS BAD AS WE THINK? If it is then, we’ve got to use these tools to get through it. We can manage ourselves, but we can’t control the things that happen TO us. These tools are what we’ve got.
What’s the alternative? Continuing to be a stressed out, overweight, unhappy, moody, and always fatigued woman?
You don’t want that — I know you don’t.
We are going to be some of these things during different seasons of our life — I just know you can manage how severely this affects you by using these tools.
Are there other tools? Of course there are! This certainly is not an exhaustive list by any means!! Find what works for you and keep adding to your toolbox of stress busters.
** As with all that I talk about ** Don’t think you can adopt ALL of these tools today. You can’t. That’s pointless. Silly really. Pick one or pick a few that work for you and practice them. If you don’t like something or they’re not working, change them out for another tool. Keep searching until you find what works for you.