Leading a balanced, healthy life means more than just mastering the "work life balance". We all know stress is not good for us so to combat that we need to embrace a healthy diet and put an emphasis on the quality of our sleep, as well as ensuring we have time to both relax and stay active.
Stress is a silent aggressor, slowly but painfully affecting our health, our relationships (with both ourselves and others) and changing the way we work. The key to ridding ourselves of unnecessary stress? Balance. Here are some of my favourite ways to master that balance and incorporate a little peace into my daily routine.
1. Develop a daily yoga practice
This is not only an effective, but also a cost-effective way to improve your health and reduce stress. If you haven't tried yoga before, find a good class to attend at least once a week- a great instructor will give you the tools you need to begin your own daily yoga practise from home.
Yoga is such a great activity for creating balance as it fuses exercise with mindfulness, giving you the time to work on a healthy, high-functioning body, as well as giving you the peace and quiet you need for a healthy, happy mind. Yoga itself is all about balance, in every sense of the word!
Create a space at home in which you can burn some relaxing or revitalising essential oils (lavender oil is my favourite for its tension and pain relieving qualities) and do some yoga poses each morning. BOODY Bamboo have such comfortable breathable clothes like these full length tights you'll be eager to get started every morning.
2. Learn to breathe
Lately I've been learning to breathe. Yep, sounds pretty basic doesn't it? However, I found that I hardly ever exhaled fully and without realising it I was shortening my breath whenever I felt under pressure. This in turn causes stress and anxiety levels to rise. So when you're feeling stressed, try this great little exercise:
- exhale completely, really pushing the breath out, starting at your tummy and ending by emptying your lungs. You should see your tummy going in as you exhale.
- breathe in for a slow count of four, starting from your belly (you should see your belly move outwards) and ending by filling your lungs.
- breathe out for a slow count of eight, emptying from your belly right up through your lungs.
- Repeat at least five times.
Ditch the caffeine
This is the hardest thing for me, but I need to keep telling myself that I don't need it! Caffeine raises your heart rate temporarily which can make you feel jittery and will only make you more stressed. If you are tired, you are tired and guzzling caffeine can't make you function more effectively. Try getting some sleep instead! Oh and substitute it with a decaffeinated herbal tea such as Pukka Tea - Love which is not only better for you, but tastes delicious! If you really miss that coffee taste, you can try brewing roasted dandelion tea instead.
Make sleep a priority
A long, deep sleep without interruption is ideal in getting the best out of your night's rest. A deep sleep gives your mind and body the opportunity to heal and to recharge, relieving you of tension and giving you a fresh perspective regardless of any stress the next day might throw at you.
If you have trouble sleeping, try making a fuss about bedtime. No, I don't mean in the manner of a seven-year-old... I mean, have a warm bath with some magnesium flakes or Epsom Salts, make yourself a cup herbal tea and turn off the TV. TV is stimulating and can lead to an over-stimulated brain at bed time, so try reading a book instead for an hour before bed. Burn some more relaxing essential oils while you're at it! You'll drift off into a peaceful and restful sleep feeling totally pampered.
I've become a big fan of natural sleep teas to help me de-stress before bed. You can try the The Beauty Chef SLEEP Inner Beauty Powder, which contains Lemon Balm and Passionflower which may help support a restful night sleep. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare practitioner. Always read the label. Use only as directed. Still having trouble getting a complete night's sleep? Want more? Read my tips on how to get the best night's sleep, naturally.
Keeping an agenda can help to alleviate stress as you'll be able to physically see how much time you devote to work and chores in comparison to how much time you dedicate to staying relaxed and mindful.
Building downtime into your schedule will allow you to prioritise your mental and physical health in the same way that you prioritise work, as well as giving you something positive to look forward to in times of stress. It can also help to schedule a relaxing and positive activity in the time you have before work. Try to wake up an hour earlier than you usually would and practise your yoga. This way, you'll start the working day in a positive state of mind, and you won't feel stressed about having to fit in a number of activities after you clock off for the day.
Try incorporating these simple actions into your week at least some of the time and notice the difference.