Life can get pretty hectic sometimes. When things get stressful, you might feel overwhelmed or even anxious about what to do. There is no magic chill pill – or at least, not one that we can prescribe you. But there are some little things you can do each day to help you cope better with the stress and anxiety that life can cause.
1. Breathe through your nose
Have you ever noticed when you’re naturally breathing through your nose vs your mouth? Mouth breathing is more common when we’re under physical or mental stress. So when you breathe through your mouth, you’re sending a message to your body that you’re stressed out.
The good news is that you can work this system in reverse. If you consciously breathe through your nose for a few minutes, you tell your body that everything is ok. Your body will respond by calming your nervous system and slowing down your stress hormones.
2. Prioritise good sleep
Sleep is the time when our bodies get to stop and repair any damage from the day. This is important for physical injuries, but it’s just as important when it comes to stress. Stress and anxiety can take a big toll on the nervous system, and can have a heap of physical effects.
This is why getting good sleep is essential for staying calm – it resets your ability to cope. Even if you’re under the pump, aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
3. Write down your stresses every night
The mind can hold so many thoughts at once. But it does have a tendency to exaggerate the stressful thoughts. Rather than letting everything loop through your mind a thousand times while you try to fall asleep, get it out onto paper.
The easiest way is to keep a notebook by your bed. Spend 5 minutes writing down everything that is worrying you, from the smallest chore to the biggest disaster.
This has two major benefits. Firstly, it puts it down onto paper so you can’t forget something that needs to be done. But it also gives you some perspective of how silly your thoughts can get under stress!
4. Eat regular meals
If you’re stressed out, eating tends to go one way or another. You either forget to eat, or you eat everything in sight! But how you eat can make or break your ability to stay calm under pressure.
The key is to eat regularly throughout the day. This will keep your blood sugar levels and energy steady throughout the day, which means less stress on your body. Aim for at least 3 decent sized meals and a couple of snacks each day.
5. Schedule in some down-time
Weekends used to be about slowing down and taking time to relax. But these days, there are countless social commitments, gym sessions and events in addition to the usual weekend chores. Sometimes, we end up a slave to the to-do list and clock just as much!
Make sure that at least a couple of hours each week are set aside for down-time. What down-time means is up to you – it might be reading, napping, or foisting the kids onto your partner so you can enjoy some silence! This time is essential for rebooting your nervous system and your ability to cope with stress.
Chronic stress and anxiety are things that can’t be magically fixed overnight. But by making small adjustments, you can make it easier to cope with stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, make sure you seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner.