As a busy executive, you’re likely juggling lots of responsibility and ultimately feeling lots of pressure. Make this year the year that you release stress and focus on the most important part of your life: you. Not only does stress erode your emotional wellness, but it has also been linked to serious health problems including increased anxiety, sleeplessness, and heart disease. Here are five immediately effective strategies to reduce your stress levels and free you up to devote your physical and mental energy to creating a stress-free life you love.
Strategy 1: Eat healthier
Healthy eating is not just about fitting into your favorite jeans or getting back to your college weight. It’s about nourishing your body, increasing your energy and ultimately providing the fuel you need to tackle life’s challenges. Increase your daily intake of vegetables and reduce your consumption of sugar, salt, fat and caffeine. If you’re not sure where to start, book a session with a nutritionist or spend time at a fitness retreat or weight loss spa and speak with a nutrition expert to develop a plan to change your eating patterns in a way that works with your tastes and your busy lifestyle.
Strategy 2: Focus on your own emotional wellness
Too often we put work and family ahead of our own well-being, allowing those stresses to build up and impact our physical health. In order to be the most effective executive (or manager, or spouse, or employee, or parent…), you must have the energy and presence of mind to give your best to each of these important jobs. Wellness retreats provide a structured opportunity to re-focus your priorities by getting back in touch with your relationship to your body, your emotions and the world around you.
Strategy 3: Make sleep a priority
When we’re stressed, regular sleep cycles are often the first to suffer. Ironically, stressful times are when our bodies and minds need quality sleep the most. Rather than stuffing sleep into spare free moments, set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Keep a pad and pen next to your bed so you can write down any important to-do items that pop into your head while you’re trying to fall asleep. Turn your lights down low and settle in with a relaxation yoga video before getting into bed. Use a white noise app or ear plugs to drown out ambient noise and set your clock to a soothing wake-up sound, not a harsh alarm. When you wake up feeling refreshed, you’re more patient, calm and capable of handling the day’s stresses.
Strategy 4: Exercise. For real.
Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, which will reduce stress and raise your spirits right away. Even low-impact exercise like yoga, Pilates or tai chi will force you to focus on the present moment instead of the lingering tasks or problems at home or work. Avoid a general, “I should really exercise more” mentality and instead make a specific plan to participate in exercise you love. Keeping a set schedule (and sticking to it) will reduce the runaround of planning your fitness outings every week, which, in itself, can be stressful. If you want a greater understanding of the best exercises for your body and lifestyle, visit a fitness retreat or a weight loss spa. You will likely try new activities and learn new exercises which can inspire you to keep active even when you’re back at your daily grind.
Strategy 5: Let it go
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Release the “all-or-nothing” attitude and recognize that the mere intention to reduce stress is the first step in accomplishing it. If you indulge in that donut, skip that workout, or get burning mad about an issue at work, remember that all is not lost. Congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come and resolve to continue to make stress-reducing choices when the opportunities arise.
When you operate with a backdrop of stress, you put many other aspects of your physical and emotional wellness at risk. Life becomes immediately less stressful when you make a conscious decision to recognize the role stress plays in your life and you actively decide to tackle it head on. The five stress-reducing tips above are our favorites–what are yours? Share your thoughts and suggestions below.