Just ask anyone how they are, and you’ll often hear the word ‘stressed’ in their reply. It’s become so much a part of our lives that we don’t stress out when we hear it!
But did you know that when you experience stress, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol to help you cope. Cortisol multi-tasks in your body. It can help to control blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and assist with memory – and that’s just for starters.
When you are constantly stressed, the effects of cortisol actually become negative, so you experience the reverse of its helpful effects. Stress increases inflammation. It reduces white cells in your blood, so you have a higher risk of infection. Stress worsens your memory, so that you don’t remember things. Forgetting where you left your car keys may be frustrating but forgetting your partner’s birthday could be unforgiveable.
So don’t run the risk of losing your car keys or your relationship. Use these 5 simple ways to break the stress cycle.
We often hold stress in our neck and shoulders. This is an easy way to let that go.
Sit straight. Lift your shoulders up as high as you can – up to your ears. Hold for two seconds. Then pull your shoulders back. And let go. Instant relief. Ideally, repeat this sequence three times, several times through the day.
2 Schedule work
We pack more and more into our days, and it’s easy to overlook something important.
Each morning, schedule your tasks and appointments on your email calendar and set reminders so you don’t forget. Or simply write a list on paper, prioritising the important tasks. Mark items off as you complete them and give yourself a mental pat on the back when you see how much you’ve accomplished.
3 Tomato Timer
This is a nifty little program you can use online. It’s a time management technique that helps you to work or study more productively. Set the timer for 25 minutes while you work on a task.
When the timer goes off, it’s your signal to have a 5-minute break. And that means to get up and do something away from your computer. Have a glass of water or make a cup of tea. Walk around. Move your body. After 5 minutes, reset the timer, and off you go again. After every four breaks, take a break of 10 minutes.
4 Phone a friend
When you feel stressed and things start to get out of control, call a friend. It’s amazing how friends can often see things from a new perspective that you hadn’t even considered. Of they may offer to assist you or simply just give you a shoulder to cry on. The power of a strong connection can work wonders. Many people hold their stress in because they don’t want to impose on others. But remember that friends genuinely want to help you, so let them do this. After all, you’d do the same for them.
5 Social media fast
Surprisingly, Australians are the greatest users in the world of social media. Constantly checking Facebook and Twitter can become an unhealthy obsession. It not only interferes with your work, but it can interfere with your life. And it’s a big cause of stress.
It’s time for a social media fast. Put that phone away in your desk or your handbag for an hour. Don’t keep it next to you, where the temptation to look at it every few minutes is overpowering. If your phone rings, you’ll hear it. But keep your social media time to a minimum, and feel the stress dropping away.
Be watchful for signs of stress in your life and use one or more of these techniques to stop it in its tracks. You’ll be happier, more productive – and have happy cortisol helping you remain stress-free.
Author: Di Clements
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