It goes without saying our stress levels have been tested throughout the last 18 months. And now, although some forms of normality have resumed, there seems to be a general feeling of overwhelm, as we all try to keep up with the fast pace of life, whilst still dealing with the after effects of the pandemic.
So, if you feel like stress is starting to bubble, rather than burying it; honour it. Sit with your feelings and emotions and consider the best way of supporting yourself in the present moment. Managing stress can help us to see more clearly when it comes to diet and lifestyle choices. It can also work to balance the hormones related to appetite and weight gain. Hopefully some of the below tips will help you to consider how you can avoid overwhelm and feel more calm and present in the months ahead.
A stressed gut leads to a stressed mind. Working to prioritise a gut nourishing diet, rich in fibre, colour and variety will help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut. When we prioritise foods that support our gut bacteria, calm signals are sent to the brain through the gut brain connection, signalling all is okay. Alongside this, 90-95% of our feel good hormone serotonin is produced in our gut, meaning the quality of our gut can strongly influence our mood, stress levels and mental wellbeing.
Although exercise is a stress on the body, it can also help to reduce stress levels, so it’s great to get into a regular routine with this. Work to move mindfully and intuitively, and rather than forcing yourself to take part in daily movement when you are already tired and stressed, honour how your body feels each day and consider which form of movement would be most suited. Being in (or even just looking at) nature has been proven to reduce stress, so why not practice your daily exercise in nature? Double the benefits!
It is so important, yet more difficult to get into a healthy sleeping pattern when we feel stressed. Sleep is the foundation on which all other lifestyle factors sit. Tiredness causes lack of energy and productivity. When we sleep well, we are more likely to eat well; we feel less stressed and have more motivation to exercise. Consider your bedtime routine – are you able to wind down before bed with no distraction, and if not, how can you make this more of a priority?
Living a fast paced life, often we fill our potential relaxation time with busyness, always forward thinking and considering what is next on our to do list rather than enjoying the present moment. Tune into what makes you feel good; your self care ritual which helps you to relax. Prioritise it. Whether it is meditation, yoga, a walk or a chat with a friend; book it in and make it happen. Chances are you’ll feel so much better afterwards, and the break from the stresses will help you to recharge, making it easier to tackle what’s next!
Before you start worrying, or feeling overwhelmed, think: is my worry in my control? If not, try your best to let it go. Tune into what you are finding stressful and limit access to this if you can.
In order to encourage a more positive mindset, could you consider:
Being consistent with routines could help you to feel a sense of security and control if things are becoming overwhelming and hard to manage. Morning routines help us to start the day with a positive mindset and those in the evening help us to end the day feeling relaxed and ready to sleep. Consider your current routines, could you adapt if necessary?
Each day, consider the things you feel grateful for. You could do this alone, with your partner or as a family. It will help you to end the day on a positive note and remember that even if you’ve had a bad day, there has still been some good in it.
Brain dump - get it all out!
Too much time on screens can make our mind a constantly busy place. Social media in particular, has the ability to influence our mood, motivation and mindset for the day. Consider building in some tech free time, especially in those morning and evening windows. Consider making your bedroom a no phone zone.
Mindfulness encourages us to pay attention in a particular way on purpose and in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past, or living in the future. How could you make mindfulness a daily practice? It can be incorporated through breath work, meditation, mindful eating, or even whilst washing the dishes. One way to encourage mindfulness is by tuning into your senses, this will help you to remain present in the moment.
We hold stress in our body. When an animal is stressed, it physically shakes itself off in order to try and close the stress cycle. As humans we hold tension in many areas of our body; across our brow, in our shoulders, our jaw and our fists.
Stop and think, relax your shoulders, your jaw, your forehead and your fists – breathe.
It’s important to recognise that alongside so much around us changing in the last year; ourselves and our personal needs may have changed too. Rather than working to get back to the pre lockdown version of yourself - honour that your needs may have changed and give yourself permission to go with them.
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development.
We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.