Reduce stress - start exercising!
People today are very busy and frequently face stress.
The trouble with being so busy and facing this stress is that the very steps that need to be taken to help us cope well are often the things that are squeezed out as we face the pressures of modern life. Time to relax, exercise and healthy diet all help us to deal with stress but are often the first things to suffer when the pace and intensity of life gets stepped up.
More and more research is being done which is linking stress with a variety of health problems.
Stress comes in different forms and from different sources. It can sometimes be hard to spot what is causing our stress as we may take it out on something other than the root cause. Irritation at another driver may stem from the conduct of another employee but you are not in a position to vent your frustration at them. You lie awake at night worrying about something trivial because work has short circuited your brain.
But stress comes in different forms. It can be both psycho-social, that is due to people and situations, or environment, arising from what is around us.
Common causes of psycho-social stress are working too hard, financial worries and relationship difficulties. One of the first things to do is to recognise where the stress is actually coming from. Allocate some time to consider this. But before you get down to the nitty gritty, take time to download and clear your mind. You could perhaps go for a walk or a cycle ride to clear your head. Then take out a clean sheet of paper – it may even help to do this in a quiet place, such as a remote picnic bench so you are not disturbed or influenced by what you see around you. Divide your sheet of paper into the key areas of your life: occupation, family, relationships, attitudes and goals, and start to include as many relevant points as you can in each section. Think of how long you spend on each and where your priorities lie. You may be surprised at how you have crept towards spending your time and energy.
You can now start to see out where the stress is coming from. Then start to consider each point in turn and look at ways in which they can each area of stress can be dealt with.
Sometimes you will need to make substantial changes to one or two areas of your life. Other times, it might require smaller adjustments to more areas. You might need to give some things up or you might need to re-organise your time more effectively to take account of what your priorities really are.
The way you train your mind to think is an important part of reducing stress. Try to have positive thoughts and attitudes. Challenge your own perspectives on a few situations and try to look for positives in them (and in the people too). Set yourself goals and targets and work towards them. Positive changes are not going to be easy initially as they will take you out of your 'comfort zone' but that’s the paradox – the ‘comfort’ zone of your current routine is the reason you are stressed! Give yourself credit for the changes you make and steps towards your goals. Have you seen golfer Tiger Woods quietly punch the air after a good shot? Even he knows the importance of rewarding himself and building a positive attitude.
Environmental stress can affect us as we are exposed to such things as tobacco smoke, mobile phone radiation, too much or too little sunlight, or excessive noise.
There is evidence that these types of environmental stress contribute to an increased burden of free radicals. This in turn can result in a wide array of diseases and contribute to premature ageing.
The other key issue to look at when considering stress is exercise. Inadequate exercise and poor diet combine to have some very harmful effects.
Exercising not only burns energy and builds muscles, it is also invaluable in helping your body get rid of any toxins you do have in your body. Sedentary lifestyles lead to a build-up of toxins in the body!
Many people consider that they are too busy to exercise. You may not have the time or energy to copy Mo Farah’s training regime, and that would not be desirable, but it is not an excuse to do nothing. A goal should be to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, a minimum of three times a week. That should not be too ambitious. It may mean heading for the gym three lunchtimes a week and eating a sandwich at your desk. It could mean walking the kids to school and jogging home the long way. Maybe you get up earlier on a Sunday. It could be that by going to the gym or for a run straight after work you miss the rush and so have a quicker and easier journey home.
Sometimes introducing exercise can help a healthier lifestyle by removing a negative and adding a positive. For example, you drink less on Saturday night as you have to get up and run. You skip a pub lunch and go for a swim. Five time Olympic gold medallist, Steve Redgrave, has said that routine was the key to him getting a huge amount of training done without ever thinking about it. Use this trick yourself. Have slots set aside to train and stick to them. It can be a great help if you have someone to train with who you are committed to meeting. Finding someone to talk to about training is also worthwhile. If time is tight do what you can. A 15min run is better than no run.
We have spoken about the need to get rid of free radicals, and of helping your body to cope with the demands modern life places on it. If you are exercising strenuously, it's a good idea to increase not only your water intake, but also your antioxidant and mineral intake. It is virtually impossible to eliminate many sources of environmental stress, so this is another reason to ensure you are consuming adequate quantities of natural antioxidants.
We offer a range of nutritional products to help you ensure that your body is as well-equipped as possible to deal with everything modern life can throw at it.
Keys to managing stress
Managing stress. How to do it:
- List the key areas of your life and their demands on you
- See which areas cause stress
- Decide what your priorities are
- Make changes where they are needed
- Look for positives and think positively
- Set yourself goals
- Praise yourself for successes
Cut our ‘environmental’ stress
How to cut down on environmental stress:
- Don't smoke and avoid second-hand smoke as much as you can
- Minimise the duration of calls on mobile phones and/or fit a radiation protection device to your phone
- Don't allow yourself to get sunburned or excessively tanned, while at the same time don't lock yourself indoors permanently!
- Air your house regularly to avoid a build-up of toxins from carpets, furnishings, fabrics and other sources
- If you drive a car, replace your pollen and pollution filters regularly and when in cities switch your heating or air-conditioning system to its re-circulation mode
- Consume organic products as far as possible to avoid unnecessary pesticide absorption; this also means you can avoid peeling fruits like apples and pears as the skins (and seeds) contain important nutrients and antioxidants.
Adding Exercise to your routine
Key points of adding exercise to your routine:
- Exercising burns energy and strengthens muscles
- Exercise helps your body get rid of any toxins
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, a minimum of three times a week.
- Establish a routine to help you continue exercising
Use these guidelines for making exercise easier:
- Use lunchtimes to go for a run or a swim
- Try walking the kids to school then jog home the long way
- Get up earlier on a weekend for a run
- Look for slots in your diary where it is easier to train
- Train with a partner who you are committed to meeting up with
- If you are short of time do a shorter session rather than missing it completely