“Sleep when you’re dead!” is a common maxim that mirrors the busy culture we live in. We drive ourselves ever harder even though we all know our mind/body requires recharging. As life gets busier how can we regain balance without missing out? Here are some simple, effective ways to help with stress management.
Life runs in cycles: Day and night, summer and winter, growth and rest. As animals that are part of the natural order we are subject to her rhythms. We have biological cycles that flow with nature. We are compelled to sleep after sunset and to wake up after sunrise. We also have cycles that run daily, monthly, yearly and even over multiple years.
Since we seem to view ourselves outside of nature, we ignore the law of the land and follow the law of the city that says that we should push, push, push. We ignore our biological requirement to allow our mind/body to rest and restore regularly and when energy flags we use chemical concoctions to dull the fatigue and get us wired again, ready to keep going. Whether it’s coffee, tea, energy drinks, cigarettes or narcotics these chemicals override our innate intelligence that knows when we should be pushing and when we should be backing off.
It’s ironic that we use so many chemicals to keep us up and yet the market for anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilliser and sleeping pills is growing rapidly. We are a culture that has made using ‘uppers’ and ‘downers’ a normal thing.
Our mind/body is subject to an amazing amount of stimulation in a normal day. Starting with loud alarm clocks or crying children and followed by high intensity exercise, email, Facebook, internet, TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, work, our favourite series on TV, sport, driving on the highway, fights with our spouse or co-workers…. Simply having the lights on in our house at night has been shown to stimulate our physiology and disrupt rest and sleep.
We push and we strain day after day, year after year and we end up paying a price for all that pushing. After years of cramming for exams, dong spinning sessions or crossfit WODs at the gym, late night partying, pulling ‘all nighters’ for work, forcing our way up the economic ladder and raising your children, the effects accumulate and catch up with us.
As your mind/body is constantly pushed you pay the price. Do you wake up feeling rested? Do you get sick multiple times in a year? How long does it take you to recover from a workout or a night out?
We touched on some of the basics in our previous Rest & Restore article. Here are some more simple and effective ways to create cycles to rest and restore into your life.
Tips On How To Effectively Manage Your Stress
Sleep: Prepare your physiology for sleep. Dim the lights, avoid screens and minimise stimulating activities for at least an hour before bed. See more on sleep here.
Mindfulness: Take 5 minutes once a day to focus on just one thing. Your breath, the food you’re eating, your stride as you run, your favourite music or washing the dishes are all easy way to bring mindfulness into your life. Notice how your mind keeps going and bring yourself back to your focus.
Meditation: No longer the domain for incense burning hippies, meditation has been scientifically validated as a way to manage stress, balance the brain, boost immunity and induce calm. Try calm.com or the app Headspace for free resources.
Nature: As animals we are biologically programmed to respond to the sights, sounds, touch and feel of nature. Immerse yourself in the forest, mountain, see or veld and notice the effect it has on your mind. Simply getting your hands dirty in the garden has health benefits.
Screen Sabbath: Take one day a week away from TV, computers, tablets and smart phones and simply be with people or just be with yourself. You’ll be amazed at the difference this simple habit can make for you.
Vacation: If your job is something that drains your energy then you will need to get yourself out of that headspace regularly. Long weekends are good ideas though we’ve found that a week is usually the minimum amount of time it takes to decompress. Make it two weeks and tell your boss it’s doctors orders! There are some other great suggestions on helping to create a good work/life balance here.
Chiropractic! Removing interference in your nervous system (subluxations) with regular Chiropractic adjustments with your vitalistic Chiropractor will improve your mind/body connection. This is especially important during times of stress.
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