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January 2, 2017

How to let the stress not get to you

There are two types of stress that most people face. One is the positive stress known as eustress, a rush of excitement and fun that we experience, for example, when cycling downhill, feeling the wind on your face, or the sense of urgency when we know there’s a deadline drawing near, and we can beat it. The other is chronic stress, which negatively affects our health, especially if we are stressed over a long period.

What happens when we are under stress? How does our body react? It senses a perceived threat or danger, so triggered a fight-or-flight response. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released into the bloodstream, and our body system is geared to the fight-or-flight situation. We experience a burst of energy and strength to enable us to fight or to run away. But, of course, it’s your mind, not someone else’s, so let’s look deeper into how best to let the stress not get to you.


stress detrimental health


However, neither response is relevant to our situation today as the stress we face is often at the workplace or along the road stuck in a massive traffic jam. We can’t run away or fight in the office, nor can we move in a traffic jam even though the minutes tick by and we will be late for the important meeting. Neither does our body relax and slow down, which it should since there is no direct physical threat to us, so that our body functions can return to normal state. The high levels of cortisone remaining in the bloodstream over a prolonged period can damage our bodies.


Chronic stress can be debilitating

Chronic stress can lead to an impaired immune system, and many health problems, some of which are heart disease, type two diabetes, depression, obesity, sexual dysfunction, etc. and they are life-threatening diseases. Sleep is also affected, and eating habits become unhealthy leading to weight gain and increased abdominal fat, leading to strokes and heart disease.

Our metabolic rate slows down because of the high cortisol levels, which also leads to weight gain. In addition, we crave nutrient-empty, but calorie-laden food such as cakes, sweets, salty chips and crisps, sweet drinks, all of which make us grow fast, and the fat is deposited in our abdominal area putting us at more significant health risks. All these make it difficult for us to lose weight if we are on a weight loss program.

The basis – accepting stress. Negative stress rarely fits into life. When you struggle to accept stressful situations, extra pressure builds up inside you, and stress relief becomes more difficult. There is no shame in admitting you are overwhelmed. On the contrary, it happens to everyone and is the first step toward healthy stress management.

Mindfulness – Responding to stress in the right way. It is the nature of stress to speed up reactions. This dates back to a time when people had to act quickly in the face of danger to survive. However, stress increases the need to act even today. Interrupt thoughts about to-do lists and what you need to get done today. Instead, be mindful and focus on the here and now. More pressure automatically builds if you do one thing while already thinking about the next thing.


chronic stress debilitating


Emotions can cloud your judgement

Being stressed leads to emotional eating. So we look for our comfort food, food that makes us feel better and which we consume in significant quantities, even though we don’t feel hungry. Doing this helps to distract us from our feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, or anger, and it makes us feel good, so we continue to eat the food that will make us put on weight. Comfort food is generally sweet and has high calories, such as cakes, chocolates, sweets, etc.

Thus it would be beneficial to recognize that stress can lead to weight gain if we are not careful. We should look for ways to de-stress instead of reaching for comfort food. Prolonged stress is harmful and can lead to serious health problems apart from weight gain. It also kills off our plans to lose weight.

Does your job keep you away from home for long periods? Do you find that you have no time to stick to your fitness regime regularly? Is your working life keeping you busy with meetings, meetings, and more meetings with no time to spare for yourself? You have come to the right place because we will give you a selection of fitness tips and small workout routines that you can do while on the move.

Breathe deeply. Stress changes the way you breathe. This becomes shallower in stressful situations, which means that the chest is constantly under a basic tension. You can breathe more deeply in stressful situations and take a little more time exhaling than inhaling to relieve stress. In this way, you automatically remove tension from your chest. Breathing techniques also help you stay mindful by focusing on your breathing and not getting lost in your thoughts. The most straightforward breathing technique is counting your breaths. When you have counted to 10, start again. You will see that this is not so easy in stressful situations.

Tip: The best way to reduce stress with the help of breathing is to also breathe into your belly. To do this, stretch your stomach out when you breathe in and pull it back in when you breathe out. This will take additional tension out of your chest.


do not tie emotion to food


Now beware that some of our tips might be better suited to some individuals than others, so it’s advised that you find a routine that you can do and feel comfortable with. You may need a couple of fitness props for some of the exercises as well!

Enough sleep – For emotional stability. Tired people react more emotionally and are much more susceptible to stress. Deep sleep is a natural inhibitor of anxiety and restlessness. Especially when sleep disorders have already developed due to stress, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a sleep schedule. However, restful sleep is one of the best ways to relieve stress. In addition to getting enough sleep, make sure you practice good sleep hygiene, for example, by keeping your bedroom at the right temperature and well ventilated, having regular bedtimes, and giving yourself plenty of time to rest before going to bed.

Yoga effectively provides an excellent work-life balance. The goal of yoga is to bring the body and mind together. Stress is effectively relieved by being mindful of movement patterns, breathing, and thoughts. Strengthening and at the same time mobilizing (stretching) asanas (exercises) to enhance also the supporting muscles and at the same time release dysbalances in the muscles (tension). Daily 5 to 10 minutes of yoga in the morning or evening effectively reduces stress and promotes concentration and vitality.

Fitness is one way you can fight back

When you are on the move for business meetings, with the likelihood of being away from home for quite a long time, then pack with fitness in mind. Some of the essentials you will need to work out include trainers, fitness clothing (swimsuit, joggers, and t-shirt), and finally, a compact music system of some sort to keep you entertained!


jogging to work


Excuses are no excuse

If it’s possible, why not walk or bike it work? Especially now that we are in the summer months, it’s the perfect time of the year to get your bike out and glow this summer! If you take the bus to work, why not get off a few stops early and walk?

How about doing the same on the way home as well? At the same time, while you’re waiting for the bus, you can do a couple of butt crunches for a more toned and slimmer bum.

Balance through hobbies. Distance from stress brings calm, which is best achieved through compensation, such as hobbies. Mainly hobbies that strongly contrast to the stress triggers bring a good balance and effectively reduce stress.

Address problems. Especially if stress has interpersonal causes, it can help if stress-inducing conflicts are addressed with other people. Communicate excessive demands privately as well. This will prevent false expectations and further pressure from future stress. MBSR is mindfulness-based stress reduction. The exercises consist of a combination of meditation, yoga, and mindful body awareness. The effectiveness of stress reduction through MBSR has been extensively studied and proven in recent decades. Most health insurance companies therefore also subsidize MBSR courses.

Saying “No! Stress reactions are the result of being overwhelmed. Especially for people who are bad at saying “no” and are already stressed, more and more stress builds up with each additional willingness to help. Even saying no once in a while then becomes more and more critical.

Social contacts. A stable social environment facilitates stress reduction. People to whom you can open up are beneficial. However, social contacts often come up short during stressful phases of life. If you then try to compensate for all the things you missed during the week on the weekend while also meeting essential people in between, such encounters will be anything but restful. Consciously take time with people who are good for you and helpful to you to relieve stress.


biking burns calories cuts stress


Bring your running shoes to work

Most of us sit at our desks during the lunch hour and munch. But you’re sat at your desk all day as it is without doing that at lunch so why not go for a walk around the block?


Related: Making those healthier food choices on the go


A Couple of gentle stretches will also go a long way. You can even create a “lunch walking community” where a few of you can dedicate your lunch hours to a quick walk or run around the block. However, make sure you bring a spare pair of trainers so that you don’t ruin those lovely bright heels!

Call it a day. Don’t take work home with you and consciously call it a day after work. Instead, intentionally put your work thoughts aside after work hours and don’t attend to them again until the next time you start work.

Avoid false stress management. Wrong ways of coping with stress are usually learned behavior patterns that harm other areas of life. For example, incorrect coping behaviors can be resigned, avoidant, or even aggressive. Such behaviors for incorrect coping with stress range from: 

  • total suppression of problems 
  • increased consumerism 
  • addictive behavior 
  • radical rejection of tasks  
  • bullying other people as compensation.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that systematically tenses and relaxes muscle groups. This exercise takes about 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, move from muscle group to muscle group, tensing each group individually for 10 seconds and then relaxing them for about 30 seconds. Start with the arms, move to the neck and shoulder muscles, the facial muscles, the abdomen, and legs and feet.


walking during lunch break


Remember to take a deep breath and take the time to realize that you are in control. You are, however, only human, and we make mistakes; there’s nothing to be ashamed of.


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