When the alarm clock goes off in the morning do you automatically think about the 10 things you need to do before lunch? Do you lay in bed stressing about what you should do first? If you are like most people (which includes me) you have a lot going on. With all of these responsibilities comes added stress. With added stress comes inflammation in your body. Some stress when managed properly (i.e. exercise) can be very beneficial to your overall health. However, when we have added stress (i.e. work, financial, relationship, etc.) this can wreak havoc on the way we feel. Below are some tips to help you manage your stress.
1. Write down your must do list before you go to bed
Instead of saying you have a lot to do today sit down and write on a piece of paper or on your computer five things that you must do tomorrow. By writing this down the night before you can have an outline of what you really want to accomplish for each day. As you accomplish each task cross it off and move on to the next item on the list. If you get done all five feel free to add one to two more items to the list. The simple act of writing this list will give you structure
2. Learn to breathe properly
After you wake up and have your coffee or smoothie take five minutes and take some deep diaphragmatic breaths. The reason I recommend people incorporate breathing into their daily routine early in the day is because it allows you to relax and focus on what is happening with your body. It also gives you a chance to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system which helps promote recovery. In my experience it is a great way to start your day.
3. Exercise regularly
Most people who exercise on a regular basis feel better. One thing we need to keep in mind is that exercise is a form of stress. However, when people listen to their body and establish and follow a plan exercise can be a great way to relieve stress. Here are three (3) ways to incorporate exercise into your life.
- Walk: Go for a long walk outside. Instead of walking on the treadmill at the gym get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. This simple tip can help relieve stress in people.
- Strength Train: Set aside 30-45 minutes 3-4 times per week to incorporate some strength training into your routine. When people lift weights properly they feel better after a training session. Keep the volume low/medium but the intensity high.
- Yoga: Set aside two (2) days per week to do either a group yoga class or an in home program. I personally do not do a lot of yoga however, I know several people who truly believe in the health benefits of incorporating yoga into their weekly routine.
Here is an extra tip when exercising. Wear a heart rate monitor to see how your body is responding to your training. This is a great tool to use to see the changes that are taking place while you train.
4. What you think matters
The only thing that we have control over is our thoughts. If we have a tendency to think negative than this will affect how we feel. This is easier said than done and it is something I need to work on. The next time you start to stress over something that you are thinking about stop for a minute and take a few deep diaphragmatic breaths and see how you feel. I don’t expect you to have positive thoughts all day long but do your best to be aware of your thoughts and how they may negatively affect you.
Stress is something that all of us have. Some stress can be positive and how we think about stress is critical to how it affects our body. The next time you feel overwhelmed take a step back and try to incorporate some of the tips mentioned above.
“Union strength and conditioning coach Kevin Miller is also a featured panelist in the Sports Doc blog http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sportsdoc on Philly.com. For best practices along with additional health and fitness tips, check out: Philly.com/Health