When life is stressful, supporting your health and peace of mind must take priority. It’s easier to handle whatever life gives you when you feel strong, healthy, and centered. If your bar, or level of health, is high, you can fall further with less drastic consequences. If your health is already compromised, a new challenge may lead to serious health problems.
- Balance blood sugar: This is the single most important key to being healthy, as it affects all systems in the human body. Eat every 3-4 hours, eat healthy fats (nuts, avocado), protein and whole grains. Do your best to avoid sugar and refined foods, as they will make you feel tired, irritable, foggy headed, and unmotivated. Who needs that when you’re already pushed to the limit?
- Plan and prepare: Being organized makes life less stressful. Take a baby step to make your day flow more easily: the night before, make lunches, plan your outfit, gather the things you need for the next day. It is critical to plan your grocery shopping and have healthy food ready to go. Boiled eggs, almonds, walnuts, apple and peanut butter are easy snacks.
- Sleep and Meditation: Usually these fall off the “to-do” list first, yet they are critical to functioning well. 20 minutes of meditation can feel like 2 hours of sleep to the body. Use guided imagery to help you focus. Take calcium and magnesium to enhance sleep. See a health care practitioner to make specific recommendations for you if you are having insomnia. Taking Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower remedies may reduce stress levels.
- Exercise: Anything is better than nothing. If it’s 5 minutes of jumping jacks that you can make time for, do it. Movement reduces stress and gives you energy.
- Attitude of Gratitude: As hard as it may seem in the moment, find something, anything to appreciate about your current situation. Ask yourself, “What could be good about this?”. Getting hit by a drunk driver was no fun for me, but that experience led to my becoming an acupuncturist. Usually something good can come out of any situation, especially an opportunity to grow stronger and more resilient.
- Quiet the critic: It’s easy to be hard on ourselves when life is less than ideal. It simply doesn’t help and actually drains your energy. When you hear that inner voice criticizing you, say, “Thanks for sharing” and move on. Focus on what you’re doing well.
- Prioritize: Be as firm as you can in picking your top 3 personal and professional priorities for the day. These are the things that will truly help your situation and help you feel good if you were to complete them. If you finish those items, you can then add a few more. Say no to things that aren’t important for that day. Remember to put health at the top of your list
- Keep Breathing: We’re the only species that holds its breath when under stress. Breathing reduces stress, calms the mind, and helps you focus. Try this: as you breathe in, mentally say, “Breath in”, release the breath and mentally say, “Breath out”. This simple exercise done for a few minutes brings you back to the present moment and calms down your nervous system.
- Drink water: staying hydrated is key for keeping your energy up, thinking clearly and staying healthy. As little as a 2% drop in the body’s water can lead to fatigue and foggy thinking. Experts disagree on how much water is necessary, but I see my patients who drink close to half their body weight in ounces (if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 oz.) feeling better than those who only drink a few glasses per day.