With the arrival of December, the holiday season is now upon us. While this is a thrilling time of year, especially for our little ones, it can also be an incredibly busy time. With many things – and people – competing for our time, stress is a natural reaction to the weight of it all. But the physical effects of stress can be hard on our bodies; the body’s instinct is to mount a fight-or-flight response meaning more hormones pumping – exhausting us and exhausting those hormones – and energy diverted from other natural bodily processes. Ever notice why you get sick during or just after times of stress? Or you have a stomach ache right at crunch time on a major project? This is your body saying “I’m stressed out!”
Listen. And take time. And follow these 5 tips for stress management.
Good nutrition really is the cornerstone to a life of wellness! And providing the body with lots of healthy eats can help tame stress. Reach for foods that stabilize your blood sugar – like starting the day with heart-healthy oatmeal, and incorporating a good quality protein at lunch – and avoid things like sugar and breads, which can drive your energy up only for a short while before a major crash. Eating well will give you the energy you need to tackle a tough to-do list.
Try: Breaking the fast of night with a good, filling breakfast. Try eggs or oatmeal, or a green smoothie with a quality protein powder when you are pressed for time. You can plan meals in advance, and prep on the weekend, so you always have good food on-hand.
It may be tempting to cut out a few hours of sleep so you can meet your deadline, but the long-term consequence may mean halting your work altogether when a cold comes knocking. Your body needs sleep, at least 7 hours a night. This resource talks about the connection between sleep and mood; a lack of sleep can actually create more sleep in your life.
Try: Going to bed at the same time every night, and rising at the same time each morning. Shut off all computers and electronic devices which emit a blue light (yes, the iPad too) at least a few hours before bed. Those blue lights suppress the body’s production of melatonin, which is what helps you to sleep.
We might all be less stressed if we had personal chefs, chauffeurs and business associates to take some of the work off our plate. But we know the reality is: all that costs money and the holidays often stretch us thin as it is. But getting support doesn’t just mean hiring people to hand things off to (though it might mean that). It may mean using resources like a business coach to teach you how to run your business more effectively, or how you might grow sales and delegate more efficiently. Also recruit the support of family and friends. Have that tough talk with your partner where you see how you can better divide up household duties, or see if a friend or family member can lend a helping hand just for a few hours each week. Asking for help, and knowing when you need it, is an important skill.
Try: If you are chronically stressed by your business, it might be time to take a step back and examine the structure of how you do business. This may mean hiring a professional to help you see where you might work more efficiently. Know when it is time to contract out, or hire someone to help you (in and outside the home). Look for tools that will help you work efficiently. Check out our round-up of time-saving apps and business tools to help you organize.
Find Your Flow.
We could say: meditate every day (because meditation is a known stress-buster) or run around the block each night (because exercise releases good endorphins, makes you feel better and works out stress-induced frustration) but we know a prescriptive solution to staying active and staying focused isn’t always the best thing. Instead, we encourage you to find your own flow – that activity that you can do to move your body and steal away some me-time that lets you leave everything else behind and just concentrate on the sweat, or the breast stroke, or the downward-facing dog.
Try: Lunchtime workouts are a great way to fit in some me-time, some all-important physical activity and to keep the stress of the day at bay. Try a noon-hour boxing class at your community centre, or simply put your running shoes on and go for a 20-minute walk around the block. Think you are too busy to take a break? Often our most brilliant work ideas come when we stop, take a breather, and work a different muscle.
And don’t forget to stop, smell the roses, and take the time to reflect on why December is a great month to be thankful for all that you have and all that you do each and every day. What are your stress-busting tips! Share them with the community.