45% of Australians will have a common mental disorder in their lifetime (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare). With 14.4% of Australian adults experiencing anxiety in the previous 12 months, stress and anxiety are both issues that need to be addressed.
Despite humanity experiencing its highest standard of living on a global scale to date, and Australians being generally more satisfied with lives compared to the OECD Better Life Index, more and more people are discussing the effects of stress and anxiety as attitudes towards mental health awareness are shifting.
Increasingly, more men are actively seeking out methods, products and ultimately lifestyles to combat stress and anxiety. To me, it all comes down to decision making. We all want to live the healthiest life possible, but it’s easy to lose our footing along the way. The decisions and practices you implement today will drastically affect your tomorrow and thereafter your future. Here are four simple tips that you can implement to mitigate your stress and anxiety levels.
1. GET YOUR ZZZ’s
There’s a reason why ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was so beautiful. If you’re not getting your eight hours of snooze every night, it will muddle up your circadian rhythm which will impact much more than your good looks. Lack of sleep impacts your ability to function and increases your susceptibility to becoming hyperalgesic – being abnormally sensitive to pain. Harvard Medical School links poor sleep to an increased likelihood of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It can also be detrimental to our major male sex hormones, cognitive function, short term memory, energy and overall health. None of these are desirables outcomes, so here are some of my hacks to improve your nightly ZZZ’s.
- Pitch Black: Surround yourself in darkness. There’s nothing worse than a pesky street light that beams into your bedroom like a Peeping Tom. Invest in some blackout curtains and create an environment that will allow you to recharge.
- Fluid Timings: Refrain from drinking fluids for at least an hour before sleep so it isn’t necessary to empty the bladder during the shut-eye.
- White Noise: Sleeping to the sound of rain, a fan, or something that’s constant and subtle will ease you to sleep. Not to mention a great, and non-confrontational way to drown out a partner who snores…
- Breathe: Being aware of your breathing patterns before bed can make all the difference. Aim to transition from short and shallow mouth breathing to long, nasal breath from your diaphragm. A 1:2 inhale to exhale ratio is simple but effective.
2. CATCH YOUR BREATH
On average, we take around 22,000 breaths per day. In addition to our respiratory rate influencing our neural chemistry, which affects our mood, state of mind, hormone balance and digestion, it greatly impacts our ability to deal with stress and anxiety. Whenever you become aware of your breathing, spend time to take ten full breaths. This will lower your heart rate and generally stabilise your mood. Try these easy breathing steps:
- Inhale through the nose whilst expanding your diaphragm for four seconds
- Pause for four seconds
- Slowly exhale through the nose for four seconds
- Pause and hold the depleted state for another four seconds
3. FUEL YOUR BODY
We’ve all heard of ‘you are what you eat’, but that applies to your mood too. A cheat meal at the end of a long week is OK, but where does it stop? If you’re constantly loading your body with junk, you’re going to feel like junk. Forget about diets for a minute and let’s explore three essentials of nutrition:
- Variety: Source what you eat from a variety of fresh, whole foods that vary in colour and texture. Rather than repeating the ‘chicken, brown rice and broccoli’ bore-fest, work your diet around the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that your body craves.
- Macronutrients: Refrain from cutting these. Be wary of prescribed routines that deprive you of any proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These macronutrients are interdependent in serving as the fuel of our body.
- Supplements: It’s difficult to tick off all the nutrients your body needs every day. That’s why I’ve been complementing my diet with REBOOT by Be Spunki. As a vegan-friendly nutraceutical, I have no hesitation in recommending REBOOT to my clients when they’re in need of physical and cognitive help. Not only does REBOOT aid in energy, vitality and endurance, but it also helps relieve anxiety and stress! Be sure to check out REBOOT and use my code ‘PAP20’ at checkout for 20% off your first order.
4. DRIP THAT SWEAT
We’ve all experienced that post-workout glow. Movement stimulates neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These all play important roles in regulating and adjusting our mood, affecting appetites and sleep patterns. When possible I encourage:
- Morning Movement: Kickstart your day by smashing out a pre-work workout, but don’t cut your sleep short to fit in the morning burn. Everything goes hand-in-hand so there needs to be a balance.
- Training Variety: The type of training you undertake will impact the way your body recovers. Training too hard or too frequently will cause your body to overstress and then a plethora of negative physiological adaptations will follow.
Everyone gets stressed, but hopefully, these tips will help you make positive changes in your life so that stress and anxiety don’t get the best of you. If you’re looking for a nutraceutical to help complement your fitness journey, be sure to check out REBOOT by Be Spunki and use my code ‘PAP20’ at checkout for 20% off your first order.
Written by Andrew Pap