Feeling stressed from the day’s challenges? Finding it hard to unwind? You’re not alone. A recent study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that three quarters of Australians admitted that stresses in their lives negatively affected their physical health, and almost two thirds said it also affected their mental health.
While some stress is normal and healthy, too much stress obviously has a massive impact on your overall health. Stress also adversely affects our sleeping patterns, and a lack of sleep can make your body more susceptible to viruses, infections and diseases, and reduces cognitive function making it harder to focus and make decisions at work.
So we have plenty of reasons to properly unwind after a hard day, but how exactly do we de-stress? De-stressing is not just about making ourselves feel better after a tough day, it needs to become a mainstay in our daily routines like brushing your teeth and exercising.
Here are five ways to destress:
Let out negative energy through exercise
Exercise can dramatically help you destress. You don’t need to run a marathon, just an easy 10-15 minute walk will help. Physical exercise naturally releases endorphins, which relieves stress and boosts your mood.
If you’re really not in the mood for a walk, you could try a new craze called ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’. Lie down somewhere comfortable, and start by tightening your foot muscles and then relax them, then work your way up the body. Tighten your leg muscles, up to your stomach and arms, and right through to your face. It may seem silly, but this practice can help reduce anxiety and stress.
Boundaries between work/school and home life is important. Constant social media, news and email updates can make it hard to mentally switch off. That’s why switching off your phone, emails and computer screens can significantly decrease your stress. Instead, treat yourself and relax. Read a book in bed, listen to music, take a hot shower or bath, or talk with an old friend.
Enlighten your senses
There are a variety of aromatherapy scents that can be used to relieve stress. Try a few drops of jasmine, chamomile, or lavender in your bath, or on your pillow case to help induce a deep sleep. You can also try taking the edge off with a herbal tea before bed. If stress makes you hungry, you should opt for a banana. The potassium in bananas will lower your blood pressure and help to ease the symptoms of stress.
Visualise and find perspective
A short visualisation can help you relax. Simply lie down in bed and try picture a peaceful scene: a future holiday, your favourite beach, your fondest memory. Also taking time to focus on the things you’re thankful for is a great way to relieve yourself of stress and gain some life perspective. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to write down a few things you are grateful for.
Make sleep a priority
Getting a decent night’s sleep is imperative for our physical and mental health. Being well rested makes us more prepared to deal with the day’s challenges, reducing the toll stress takes on our bodies. Invest in a new mattress, find a soothing playlist, or try some night time meditation before bed. Prioritise your sleep and you will prioritise your health.