I am currently sitting on my couch writing this and thinking how insane life is currently. TV shows are being broadcasted via Zoom or Facetime, I am training clients via Facetime daily now, my husband job is 100% stress right now, and most of the world is in quarantine. What is happening??
Well we all know what is happening and it is called COVID-19, something a few weeks ago we thought was just something that was in Asia and some of Europe. But we were wrong.
I know I am probably one of the rare ones in saying this but I have hope right now. I seriously do. Amongst the craziness I know we will come through stronger. I am not saying I do not worry, because of course I do, income is down, stock market is down, I mean we were about to buy a house now we do not know if we will even be making half of what we did last year…. and we intended to do better this year! There are a lot of unknowns… but I do have faith that we will prevail. I mean maybe God wanted to get our attention, maybe He wanted to tell us to slow down and stop putting our hopes and dreams in money and technology and other people…. religious or not you cannot help but think that something God or the universe is trying to tell us all something. I think this can be used for our good, and that is part of the reason I do have faith. Bad things happen all the time (although this may be one of the worst for us all) most of the time we learn from the bad and become better humans, I mean am I not right?
So back to what this article is really about – how to destress when everything is falling apart. Below I have 10 things I believe can truly help. I would love for you to try them for yourself.
Start your day with thankfulness– This is something that has helped me tremendously. That is gratitude. We all I am sure have gratitude for something, however doing a gratitude journal is something you should try during this time. In the morning first thing before you do ANYTHING else, think of 5 things you have and are thankful for that very day. Write them down and take it a step further. This can literally be a game changer.
Move – Another thing to do first thing in the morning, if you can start your day with thankfulness THEN simple movement you might see a 180 in your mindset. Look up some studies I am serious. Simple stretching like these are a great way to get going in the morning. It gets your blood flowing and some endorphins going too. Nothing too crazy but just gentle movement.
Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while – Think of someone who may be lonely right now, someone who may just want to talk or going through a tough time. Maybe you know someone who is or has been affected personally by COVID-19. Reach out. Doing this can make not only them feel better but also you. And if they can do it via facetime then do it that way. There is something about just seeing someones face that can make a difference.
Deep Breathe – Get those stress and cortisol levels down. SERIOUSLY.It helps our immune system too. Do this 5x – Inhale DEEEPLY for 5-6 counts, hold your breath for 2 counts then exhale 4 counts. Focus on your breath when you do. Find out more about this one here.
Read a book – Not a reader? Listen to one. Or read a magazine. So many of us NEVER have time to do these things so now is the time to relax and take advantage of it. Check out my list of some of my favorites if you need some inspiration! FAVORITES
Workout – No doubt that working out helps our attitudes and our immune systems. There are plenty of things you can do at home even without any equipment. Check out my two workout plans that can be done entirely at home with minimal equipment (use code CHANGEUP to save $10!). Virtual Training
Do NOT watch the news when you first get up in the am or right before bed. – I think this should go without saying. We want to meditate on the good not the bad. I am not saying that we should not watch the news at all, I am simply saying that we need to take a break from it for about an hour before we try to sleep (atleast).
Keep a schedule even when working at home or when doing things that aren’t the “norm” – Schedule is key to normalcy. Even if you are someone who normally hates them. Try to keep a routine as best you can. It could go something like wake up at x time – thankfulness/morning pages at x time- stretch at x time – emails at x time – calls at x time- workout at x time – dinner at x time- read at x time. Whatever you do day to day try to keep it that way even while at home.
Find someone to help or an animal (virtually) – If you are in a place where you can help someone right now, do it. It will literally make you feel so much better. Even if it is not financially. Maybe you can go grocery shopping for someone. Maybe you can buy some home made items from someone or support a local business. Tip someone more than normal. If you are able to foster an animal you can still do that in a lot of places right now too. And what better a time than now with you working from home!
Reread or rethink about your 5 thankful things right before you go to bed. – Get that mindset right.
The little things right now are what matter most. Lets try not to forget that!
Have anything you want to hear about right now? Let me know!
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Stress…. It is so prevalent in todays world. We ALL have it to some degree. From work, to home life, to finances, to the to do list, to health issues, to sick kids, to traveling, to what is going on in the world….. It never seems to really stop.
Unfortunately we don’t really know how to avoid it. Some of it is inevitable, but some is brought on simply by ourselves. Even if we don’t want to admit it.
I don’t want to bore you with an overloaded statistic filled post today, so were going to focus on three main points –
1- Stress DOES cause inflammation within our bodies
2 – It does make us sick
3 – We have to learn to control it, which can be done with some simple exercises
I think most of us know what stress is, but just in case, the actual definition is that it is essentially our bodies natural reaction to any change that requires us to adjust or respond. It can fall into a lot of categories, from physical, mental, emotional, etc.
In regards to inflammation, stress (be it chronic stress) can lead to an increase in inflammatory responses within our immune system.. As a little reminder (you can read more in my previous blogs on inflammation to catch up – weight gain, hydration, skin care)
Just like stress, inflammation is a natural response from our immune system when something unnatural occurs. In this article we are focusing on the mental and emotional side of stress. The physical will come in a few weeks.
To break it down – After we experience a stress mentally or emotionally for a period of time our cortisol levels rise, and stay elevated. When they stay high for too long it messes with hormone production and how we metabolize things. Our body essentially thinks it needs to be “turned on / fight or flight” all the time, and because our bodies are amazing at adapting, the come to believe this as our new normal. Unfortunately this leads to inflammation throughout us which can eventually lead to illness, etc. You can read more on that here.
Emotional Stress happens because of our feelings or situations we encounter. Unfair things in life are going to happen and we absolutely should have feelings, but when we are in a constant state of fight or flight as mentioned previously, with our stress hormones elevated (adrenaline and cortisol), it is going to screw us up! It is going to trick our body into thinking it needs to constantly release these stressors because there is constantly something wrong, and by doing so we get inflamed, we hold water, we mess with our metabolism function, we can’t sleep because our circadian rythm gets thrown off. The list goes on.
This leads me to point number two – it makes us sick. Stop and think for a moment when you have had a stressful time in your life, or when you are overly anxious about something. Does your stomach ever hurt or get butterflies? Or get that gut feeling when something big is about to happen or after something bad does? That isn’t just a coincidence. There isn’t a coincidence, there is a connection. (This article may help you understand it a little more if you want to go deeper –The Gut Brain Connection. ) But what about auto immune conditions like RA (I can attest to this) or hashimotos or migranes even? Having this fight or flight response causes our immune system to not function properly and inflammatory markers can in turn rise. An overload of this dependent on certain genes, etc things can get “turned on” and then our immune system goes after certain parts of our body, thinking it needs to attack. (in the case with RA our joints). Or what about something as extreme as a stroke or heart attack? I am pretty sure we have heard of stress causing those at times right?? Heightened and Chronic Emotional Stress needs to be controlled. We have to learn ways to help ourselves decompress.
And point #3- here is how-
First deep breathe. It sounds so simple…. But its not. The link below will help you if you are not familiar. But basically Deep Breathing is something that helps us calm down. When we breathe deep through our diaphragm and do slow breaths in and out it can turn on our parasympathetic nervous system (which helps us relax) and turn down our sympathetic nervous system (which controls fight or flight). So our cortisol and stress levels decrease, our blood pressure can decrease, we feel a peace within us…. and after really practicing this, it can decrease stress induced inflammation. Studies show it can help improve our immune function over time. Taking just 5 minutes a day to do this for yourself can make a big difference. You need to make sure you are doing it properly though – check out my video for more.
The next thing we need to practice is……learning to say no. No this isn’t a joke. We have to prioritize what is important , we have to make time for ourselves too. Saying no is something that doesn’t always come easy, myself included. However, saying yes to everything causes stress and overloaded schedules and no time to decompress.
Here are some simple tips, make a list of the stuff you have to get done that is a priority, if something else pops up that isn’t involved or life or death simply say no. I promise over thinking the other persons response is not worth our time either. If you really feel bad then simply ask for a rain check if possible, and if it is something you really want to do… then do it! If it is something that will improve your mindset or “spark joy” (had to) … then do it!
Then here we are at the third thing… Get sleep! I am going to go into this more next week but aim to get as much as possible. Minimum of 7 hours a night. Turn off your phone and do not check it anymore within an hour of going to bed. Let your mind and body decompress. Take a bath, relax, read a book. Take time to turn your mind off of your to do list.
Working with someone who is a professional can also help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with speaking to a counselor or therapist who can help you balance your thoughts and get life in line for you. They have jobs for a reason. Find someone you can speak to and trust. Listen to their advice and try to act on it.
To wrap it up, we need to learn to take more time for ourselves. It is the most important thing we can do. Really try to pay attention to what is triggering stress and trying to think before reacting. Taking a minute to deep breathe and focus on what is really important with what is going on. We are made to handle a lot, however if we do not take care of ourselves then we will not be able to do “all the things” either ;). Stay tuned for a program that will help decrease this stress, help you reach your fitness goals and help you eat better, so you feel better, look better and live better!