On a daily basis, many people experience high-stress levels. This can be down to a number of reasons, such as pressure at work, managing a family, dealing with a certain unexpected situation, and overwhelm at too much going on in their life, as well as other things. As a result, stress levels increase.
The issue with increased stress is that it releases high cortisol levels, which can trigger a glucose intolerance in the body, which can encourage inflammation – something that is harmful to progression and overall health. Some of the areas that stress can affect include your immune system, neuroendocrine system (sex hormones), blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and the increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
So, it is very important that you manage stress levels so that you can stay calm and positive throughout challenging life situations. But how do you do it?
Have Good Structure, Organisation and Planning
One of the best things you can do to manage your stress is to plan more and have better structure. This could be a variety of things but simply writing down a ‘To Do’ list every day is a great starting point and will create clarity in your mind as to what things you need to get done. Another very useful tool is a diary, which has all of your calls, appointments and meetings written down in front of you, so that you know what you have ahead of you during the day.
This is also where planning comes in. If you can book these key parts of your week in early, you will not be having to create time frantically to schedule it in late, which automatically decreases stress levels. Having a clear, structured day is an excellent way of dealing with the tasks in your day and making sure that you have stable, controlled emotions throughout the week.
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to weight loss or fat loss, but there are several reasons why it needs to be a priority, especially for having consistent high energy levels. A high-quality night’s sleep of 7-9 hours gives your body much-needed rest and recovery from your daily exercise and tasks, which is also crucial to progression.
Furthermore, you produce a large portion of your growth hormone when you sleep, particularly in the first two hours. In order to build lean muscle tissue and burn fat efficiently, we need growth hormones, and as your growth hormone levels decrease gradually in your late 20’s, the importance of sleep then increases. Sleep also produces Melatonin in the pineal gland and is involved in energy metabolism. It also balances your cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is part of our survival mechanism), and your levels of your insulin (the major hormone that controls your blood sugar levels), which is vital for your body to be able to rest and recover from your activity during the day.
So, in order to wake up with energy and purpose and be productive throughout the day, make sure you are not just improving the duration of your sleep, but also the quality. And, as a result of being more productive during the day you get more things done and those stress levels decrease. This is vital.
Make Time for Yourself
A vital part of managing stress levels is making sure that you are having time to yourself during the day. Many people refer to this as meditation, but this does not mean having to sit cross-legged in silence while in a fasted state all the time. It could be just going for a walk in the morning, or meeting a friend for coffee, or listening to a podcast on your drive home from work. Making time to reflect on your day and life, as well as learning and improving, allows you to have space, freedom and time to recharge.
So, look at your schedule and work out when the best time is for you to achieve this. If you are someone who struggles with a hectic schedule, this may have to involve waking up earlier and going for a walk, first thing, or doing it at the end of your day. Plan in a time to be by yourself, away from work, and you will find that you are much clearer in your thoughts, you are calmer emotionally, and you can reflect on experiences and challenges in a more rational way. This may also have a positive effect on your creativity.
Good Quality Nutrition
Another huge part of managing your stress levels will be your diet, not only in achieving your fitness goals but also in making sure that you are receiving a good amount of nutrients per day to combat stress levels and the potential toxins they can release. It is vital that you have a diet that features a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fats to support you.
Consuming plenty of carbohydrates, in particular, is going to be important because it is going to be your primary source of energy throughout the day. Aim for carbohydrates that release energy slowly, such as oatmeal, rice, potatoes, pasta and bread, so that you avoid sharp spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels and that your energy levels remain consistent. Fruit is also a good, healthy option if you are looking for a sharper energy hit. Do not neglect carbohydrates from your diet, especially if you want to enjoy your diet, control your stress, and have energy and positivity during the day.
There are certain supplements you can use to support lower stress levels, such as Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Magnesium Glycinate and L’Theanine, all of which can support you in minimising stress and dealing with it when it comes your way. It is a good idea to have this by your side, so that you are prepared if you are still struggling with high stress.
On a more general level, look to take high-quality supplements that can provide you with important vitamins and minerals that will benefit your body. These include Omega-3 fish oils, Turmeric, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D. Ideally, you want the majority of your nutrients, vitamins and minerals to come from food, but supplements are an excellent option if you are short in this area. This will improve areas such as sleep, digestion, mental health, your immune system and reduce inflammation. All of these can lead to lower stress levels.
High-stress levels are a common problem for people on a daily basis but there are ways in which you can control them. Make sure that you have good structure, organisation, and planning during the day, you are prioritising sleep and recovery, you are making time for yourself during the day, you have a healthy, balanced diet and you are taking supplements to support your body.
Integrate these points into your life and you will find that your stress levels will decrease as a result of dealing with challenges in a much better way. This will then lead to you having better results, both with your fitness goals and your overall life experiences.
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