Have you ever had anyone say to you, “Control your stress”? Or “Stress is the worst thing for your health so stop stressing”? Can you just stop stressing? It’s not that easy and when you can’t stop stressing and feel out of control, you stress out even more.
In the context of stress being a negative and out of our control, what can we do to soften the blow?… Controlled stress really is what keeps us alive…. Yet how do we minimize the damage of uncontrolled stress such as death, taxes, relationships, money, and work?
Before I continue, let me be clear that I believe we can manage stress through internal silence, outdoor activity, exercising in the right dose, social interaction and counseling. I support all of these. What I am addressing is when we do not have instantaneous solutions to our stress and how we can mitigate the damage it can do.
Having stress offsets can help when you know you have been burdened with uncontrollable stress and need to counteract it.
This is where stress offsets come into play. They are simple and we all have the resources already put in place, we just need to learn how to use them:
- Sleep Well– Getting to bed early, avoiding electronics and blue light one to two hours before bed can help you deal with stress. Blue light mimics sunlight and keeping away from high stimulus electronics is one of the keys to good melatonin secretion. We need melatonin to put us into our most restorative sleep early in the night. If you must check your electronics or see that TV show you’ve been waiting for all week, I recommend you invest in some rose or orange tinted glasses, ones that block out blue light. It is not the optimum way to get ready for bed, but this will help protect your body from the signals that blue light give to your body: it is time to get up. Good sleep has the potential to mend so many health and emotional problems. Get to bed early and get more sleep than you think you need, try for eight to ten hours. Don’t believe me? Watch this video.
- Eat Well – Being kind to your gut and keeping sugars down and high quality vegetables, protein and fats up is a great way to be kind to yourself. Soothing food such as bone broth, cooked veggies…. yes, I said cooked, they are easier to digest….along with good quality protein and organ meats will supply you with the nutrients you need to blunt the expression of stress. A good way to start is to eat whole foods, meaning stay away from anything in packages. This will help you avoid additives to which you are potentially sensitive. Of course, alcohol and sugary foods are not on the list of good things to ingest if you are trying to combat stress.
- Exercise the appropriate amount for your external stress environment. This means that you might consider taking it easy….walking….if you have not eaten well and slept well, or are having a particularly emotional day. This is counterintuitive, as many of us think that working out fixes almost anything. Remember working out is a stress, and such stress helps us adapt and get into better shape. However, it is only beneficial in the appropriate context: when you have slept and eaten well and are emotionally able to focus.
- Give yourself some slack. Baby yourself. Watch that movie you wanted to watch instead of putting together the presentation due next week. Consciously lighten your schedule by making time for yourself, whether that means a massage or time to do some gardening or even just a nap, go for it. Take care of you.
Controlling stress is a skill that few of us can manage on the spot. Having stress offsets can help when you know you have been burdened with uncontrollable stress and need to counteract it. I have given you some basic tools that you can use to mitigate the affects uncontrollable stress can cause. If you feel like you are dealing with long term chronic stress and would like an evaluation to determine a baseline to track your healing contact me here. Otherwise, do the best you can with the information I have given you and you’ll see stronger, healthier and happier days ahead!
Usually I write for a very “uber” health conscious community and this information might be old news to my usual audience. There are many people who are surprised when I tell them how important sleep is or how working out after a poor night of sleep might not be to their benefit. Also, I use the term stress offsets in my Sustainable Fitness and Optimized Health seminar, and I want to be specific with what this means for future reference.