Tips to Stress Less This Summer22/06/2016
Although the summer months are typically associated with holidays, family time and good weather, it can also be a time of added stress in the home and the office.
At home, your living situation can change because of housemates or family on annual leave or summer holidays, leading to a disruption across your daily routine. Meanwhile, in the office workloads can increase as staff disappear off on holidays putting more pressure on those left behind.
Here are some simples steps to help you manage stress and ensure that you take time to enjoy the summer to its fullest.
Capitalise on the Long Evenings
Although you might have more going on in the summer months, you also have more time to get things done. It’s much easier to motivate yourself to do exercise in the mornings before work and in the evenings after dinner when it’s bright outside and the temperatures are warmer. Stress might be caused by something that influenced your mental state, but by no means does it stay just up in your head. We’ve all been in the situation in which our heart starts beating and our palms get sweaty because of a sudden realisation of something stress. The good news is, that thanks to the nervous system, this works both ways and you can tire out your busy mind out with physical activity. So do it!
Exercise produces chemicals called endorphins that can have a pain relieving effect on your system. Schedule an hour of walking or other light exercise three times a week to give yourself peace of mind.
A healthy body makes for a healthy mind, thus keeping up your good nutrition habits can assist in stress management. In a time of stress, the ability to co-ordinate and focus your efforts to avoid becoming overwhelmed is essential. Antioxidants like blueberries, artichokes and cranberries can assist in the production of dopamine, another chemical that can help with a number of brain functions related to concentration. Eating leafy green veg, like spinach, can also help the brain produce dopamine.
Foods to Avoid
It might sound strange, but in stressful situations you should try and avoid ‘comfort food’. Stodgy meals that are packed with gluten and salt might provide short term joy and relieve cravings, but they could also leave you feeling sluggish afterwards and further contributing to your stress. A great way to avoid this is to learn what your cravings mean, and what healthy foods you can use to feed cravings. Ingesting half an avocado at lunch time can provide your body with vitamins B and E and can keep you feeling full and less likely to snack on the wrong foods throughout the day. Have a banana for breakfast!
Caffeine can live in your body for four to six hours and has the ability to negatively affect your hormones. It can slow the absorption of adenosine, which has a tranquilising effect on the body.
This can cause alertness in the short term, but it can also interrupt your regular sleep patterns. Too much caffeine can also give you a boost of adrenaline, leaving you in an agitated state throughout the day, potentially aggravating your stress. Cut down your caffeine intake to 1-3 cups of day, or less if possible, and if you can substitute caffeinated drinks with herbal tea or plain water.
In the Workplace
Two months out from your own annual leave, do up a list of any major project work that has to be completed before you go and spread it across a series manageable deadlines. Do your best to keep evenings and weekends free for any non-work preparations you need to make before you go. If you’re providing cover for absent colleagues, set realistic expectations of what work you can help with. On the flip side of this, if you are covering for other people, don’t get your stomach in knots when it’s your turn to ask for assistance.
Importance of Sleep
Your ability to concentrate on getting as much out of your day as possible is based on a foundation of solid rest the night before. We’ve spoken before about the importance of beauty sleep and how getting at least seven hours of shut eye can have a big impact. If you’re under pressure as a result of a busy schedule, aim for productive early mornings over late night cramming.
If things get to much for you in any aspect of your life, at any time in the year, avoid ‘going it alone’. Find a family member or friend to talk about anything that is worrying you. Services like Aware can also provide support.
The Next Steps
Plan at least two fun things in your schedule for next week and do your best to keep the appointments. Try and put together some packed lunches packed full of antioxidants and pick up a box of herbal tea bags. At the end of each day write down any good things that happened in a notepad and no matter how small they were, focus on these small VICTORIES!!
Take your learnings from a ‘stress less’ summer into the autumn and before you know it, you’ll be managing your stress better all year round.