7 Tips for a Stress Free Fall
As autumn sets in and temperatures drop, we can start to face challenges, including work and school schedules, and soon holiday-related tasks. We often experience “stress triggers” (like work pressure, commuting in traffic, balancing family and professional demands, etc.) that impact our health. Here are some tips to staying stress free this fall:
1. Revisit Your Workout Routine
Your body was born to move, and when it doesn’t get that opportunity, you will find it very difficult to maintain optimal health. Exercise helps to release emotional stress. A number of studies have shown that regular exercise is associated with decreased anxiety and depression, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Even just 15 minutes of strength-building together with cardio helps your body recover from stress.
2. De-clutter Your Workspace
Just as you rake away the leaves this time of the year, take an hour to rake away all the dust and irrelevant files and papers from your desk. This will give you a nice clean plate visually, which is pleasing to the brain as it’s less distracting.
3. Evaluate Workplace Stressors
This is great to do every quarter, but especially in the fall: Spend time considering what’s stressing you out at work. Is it an increased workload? A challenging relationship? Unreasonable deadlines? It's a great idea to keep a "barrier worksheet" to write things down that may bring conflict into your life. Here is an example and a printable version.
4. Eat Four to Six Small "Half" Meals Each Day
A key aspect of minimizing the stress on your system is to eat in a way that fits your physiology. The least stressful and most supportive way to nourish yourself is to eat four to six small “half-meals” each day spread evenly throughout the day, with each small “meal” including a balance of proteins (35 percent - 40 percent), and healthy fats (20 percent - 30 percent or more). This is based on research that suggests that calorie and carbohydrate restriction, along with higher protein and fat, improve wellness.
5. Get Your Happy Mojo On
Studies show that your mindset can have a huge impact on the way you handle stress and how effective you are at work. In a positive mode, your brain is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral, or stressed conditions. So, think about what makes you happy, and find ways to bring it into work. Refreshing your office with new photos of family and friends, bookmarking that link to baby animal videos on YouTube, and creating a few new playlists you can access at work are all great ways to get the good vibes going.
6. Get 7.5-9 Hours of Sleep a Night
We all need sleep — and we need it even more if our waking hours have been full of stressful challenges. Even when we experience these challenges as positive — a new romantic interest, an exciting project at work, a vacation full of thrilling adventures — our body needs time to relax and recover from the demands of the day. Aim to get in bed and turn off the lights and electronic devices with enough time to sleep at least 7.5 hours before you need to get up the next day.
Keep a bottle of water on your desk so you can hydrate throughout the day. To find the amount you need, divide your body weight in half. That’s how many ounces of water you need to drink throughout the day, even if you don’t “feel thirsty." Your thirst monitors don’t really reflect your body’s need for water, yet when your body becomes even slightly dehydrated, your stress response begins.