All of us experience a great deal of stress in a single lifetime, and learning to handle it effectively can itself be the work of a lifetime too. But if you feel that you have been more stressed than usual lately, or you just want to try and make sure that you get to the bottom of how to handle it a little better, then there are many things you can do to try and make that a little easier on yourself. Stress might be an experience we all know well, but being stressed all the time is not a natural state to be in.
If you are stressed, it means that something is wrong, and yet as a culture, we have managed to convince ourselves that it is a normal thing, and maybe even healthy or worthwhile. It’s time to put that idea to bed, and in this article, we will try to do that by focusing on some of the really effective ways that you can manage your stress – and even learn to master it.
Get More Sleep
How much sleep do you normally get per night? If you are like most people in our society, you don’t get nearly enough. In fact, the average person gets around two to three hours less sleep per night than the recommended amount. People at different ages and of different neurological and biological types require different amounts of sleep, but generally, you should aim for somewhere between seven and nine hours per night, every night. If you know that you are not routinely getting this much, then you can be sure that it is keeping your cortisol levels higher than it needs to be, which in turn means that you are going to experience considerably more stress.
So we need to try and get more sleep. But what can you do to make sure that happens? Firstly, take a look at your nighttime routine. The first thing to note here is that, if you don’t have such a routine, you should develop one. Having a routine ensures that your body learns to know it is time for bed, and that will help you to drift off much more easily and smoothly. That routine should be something calming and relaxing, such as washing your face and brushing your teeth and then reading a book in bed.
You should avoid using your smartphone or laptop or tablet, as the light emitted from those screens inhibits your thalamus’ production of melatonin, which is the chemical your body uses to know it is time to sleep. So develop a routine, avoid screens, and make sure that your bed is comfortable. You might also need to focus on ensuring that the room is a good temperature – most people need it to be a little cool in order to drift off effectively.
Once you are getting more sleep, you will notice that you are less irritable and that you are generally able to handle whatever stress might arise much more effectively and easily. If you have long not been able to get enough sleep, then suddenly sleeping more is going to have the effect of feeling like some kind of magic drug has entered your system. It’s really incredible what a good load of sleep can do for you, in particular, your stress levels.
Improve Your Diet
You might start to see a pattern here. Everything that you can do that generally improves your health is bound to also keep your stress levels low. One of the most central parts of your health is your diet, and so it is that it is also something that affects your health quite profoundly. The better your diet is, the less stressed you will be on the whole. But there is so much nutritional confusion out there that it is hard to know what a good diet really looks like. Let’s take a look now at some of the important elements of a strongly healthy diet.
First of all, you should make sure that you avoid processed food at all costs, or at least as much as possible. Processed food is always going to increase your stress levels, and it is a kind of food which doesn’t even provide your body with any real sustenance anyway, so it’s pointless to eat it. You should also make sure that you are eating plenty of whole foods, as these are real, natural foods which your body really needs. In particular, aim to mostly eat vegetables and fruits, and as much of a variety of those as you possibly can. Supplement that with grains, oats, seeds, legumes, peas, and nuts, and you will soon be eating pretty healthily indeed. You might also want to think about keeping your carbs down by avoiding bready foods and keeping your dairy intake to a minimum too.
That might sound like a lot, but you soon get used to it, and it is the kind of diet that is really going to make a huge difference in how you feel emotionally. Eat like this, and you will find that stress is not so much of a problem anymore.
Cut Out Poisons
Everyone has their vice or appears to, and if yours is particularly unhealthy then it is also likely that it’s the kind of thing which is only making your stress worse on the whole. In particular, if you drink a lot of alcohol, you are messing around with your brain’s ability to regulate your emotions reliably, and that means that stress is much harder to handle. Similarly, if you smoke a lot, then you will almost always feel stressed to some subtle degree as long as you are not smoking a cigarette. Giving up cigarettes might require a lot of willpower or just some CBD vape oil, but it is absolutely worth doing if you are hoping to keep your stress more manageable.
As long as you take care of these things, you should find that dealing with your stress is much easier indeed.