I have always been a very stressed person. I enjoy keeping myself busy and I tend to be an internalizer so I have always had trouble with stress, anxiety, and even panic attacks. I have tried many things but have noticed a huge decrease in my stress levels in this past year. I thought I would share what I think has contributed to this in case it may help someone else.
The first thing that I think has contributed to my personal health has been changing my diet. I have always had stomach problems and after seeing a new doctor I started a new diet called the Autoimmune Paleo Diet. This diet is often used to treat chronic illness and I was suffering from leaky gut which caused my body to be inflamed on the inside. This diet helped heal a number of ailments such as heartburn, fatigue, stomach pain, and blood sugar issues. After going through that experience I now understand that diet can really affect how our body feels as well as our mood and mental health. I think the food I had been eating was actually causing my body to react which was making me more stressed out. If you are thinking about trying the Autoimmune Paleo Diet I highly recommend this book:
The second thing that I think made a big impact on my stress was attending a workshop on how to effectively use a planner. I know that sounds odd but I will explain. I often had trouble falling asleep as I would run through things stored in my head. After taking the workshop I realized the amount of information I had stored in my head, everything I needed to remember or "to-do's" that week. When you are a stressed person you don't need to have extra things in your head to worry about along with everyday worries. So now, all the things I need to remember are stored in my planner and I never have to rely on remembering those things, which frees up my head a little. It's funny the things you keep cluttered in your subconscious that you don't often aknowledge. Here is a look at my crazy planner which now represents how my brain used to be.
#3- CREATIVE OUTLET
For me this has been really important, I think everyone needs to find something that they are interested in and that makes them happy. For me this is creating things, when I am creating things I forget about my stressors and get a mental break from the everyday grind. The hardest part for me is making that a priority, because it is fun it is hard to justify setting time to do that over more pressing matters but it needs to be done. There are nights when I don't get laundry done or I don't make it to the gym but if it makes me happy and it lowers my stress it is worth it.
Even though I go through periods when I don't make time to work out, I do realize how important it is to reducing my stress. My exercise of choice is yoga which is a great sport for dealing with stress. I find yoga forces me to slow down when I like to move fast through my day. It also allows me to listen to my thoughts and become more in tune with what is causing me stress so I can address it. Whatever your exercise preference is, just moving and getting your blood flowing is great for relieving stress and getting into a good mood. I never leave yoga unhappy or feeling bad.
This is a small thing but has definitely helped me as a person who likes to pack their schedule. I like to feel productive and when I was often stressed and trying to remember all my "to-do's" in my head, everything had to be done right there and now or I might forget about it. Now that I have everything written down and it is really easy to move things on my list to another day I always ask myself, "does this need to be done right now?". Now everything is less urgent and I no longer spend long hours at work or up late at night working on things. I take care of what needs to be done that day and then I pass on things that aren't urgent when I am feeling worn out or stressed.
I would say that two years ago my stress levels were a 10! Now I would say they are down to a 5! I rarely have panic attacks and find I am getting more restful sleep. I would love to hear any strategies that others have used to lower their stress. Share in the comments below!