We live in a frantic world these days.
Unless you’re looking to go completely off grid and disconnect completely from technology and go and live in a hippy commune, we can’t escape the daily stressors that come with being a human adult in this day and age.
That’s not to say that we can’t try to reduce the impact that daily life takes on us though…
What follows will be my three go-to points for stress reduction to hopefully help you function, regenerate and live better in today’s age of continuous bright device screens, chaotic work/school/family schedules and commitments galore (especially at this festive time of year).
- Reduce screen time before bed or install software that reduces exposure to blue wave-lengths of light on your devices.
This is to help with the ability to get to sleep and the quality of the sleep that you get. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain (but also in other locations within the body). It plays a huge role in the regulation sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to blue wave-lengths of light from devices like smart phones or tablets can interrupt the release of melatonin because the body interprets this as sunlight causing delays/reductions of the release of melatonin. This can wreak havoc within the body as regular sleep and good durations of sleep help immensely with stress reduction and body/mind regeneration. Going to bed and either eliminating device exposer in bed or installing an app on your device that give the screen a noticeable orange/red hue (and eliminates the blue light) can help reduce interruptions to melatonin production, leading to an improved ability to get to sleep and increasing sleep quality as well!
- Controlled breathing.
This also relates to sleeping and the ability to get to sleep but can also be used at other times of the day to help unwind and take some of the load off of the mind and body. Often used as a part of the cool-down after the semi-private 6-on-1 classes and HIIT group classes here at RFT, it’s a method we use to help get us back into a “rest and digest” state after being in a “fight or flight” state. After the intensity and workload required during training this a is great to help us unwind. Remember, training is just another form of stress that we impose upon the body so if you’re already hyper stressed in other aspects of your life (work, relationships, financial, emotional) then taking time to unwind after training is even more important. Stress comes in many varieties, both physical and mental.
When trying to get to sleep this can be a great method to help distract our minds from the craziness that may be occupying it and allow us to finally doze of with a bit more ease.
Give this a try while lying in bed and all of your devices are finally put down for the day:
Inhale for 3 seconds, hold the breath in for 2 seconds and then exhale for 3 seconds. Repeat until (hopefully) sound asleep.
- Magnesium Supplementation
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals found within the body and deficiency rates in adults is extremely common. It can’t be produced by the body so must be consumed from the foods (or supplements) that we consume.
Some of its roles within the body include:
- Helping to regulate blood pressure
- Helping to regulate blood glucose levels
- Functioning as 1 of 7 electrolytes (which helps with fluid balance and impulse/electrical signalling in the body)
- Aiding bone development and preventing bone wastage
- Controlling stress responses (how convenient!)
My favourite use for magnesium is in relation to sleep and increasing the quality of the sleep we get. The more sleep we get the better we recover from the “stress” of the things we deal with in life, be it physical of mental stress.
This is through the promotion of GABA production, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Having low levels of GABA can make it more difficult to relax and doze off so understandably this will effect your sleep and my association, compound your stress.
Get your levels higher through either consuming more magnesium rich food or by supplementation and you may very well find that your sleep quality starts to go up.
One point worthy of mentioning is the type of magnesium you supplement with. The most common (and cheapest to use by the manufacturers is Magnesium Oxide. Avoid this like the plague.
Long story short: minerals must be bound to something to be absorbed by the body.
For the magnesium example you would look for thing like “magnesium glycinate”, “magnesium citrate”, “magnesium malate”. Or, sometimes it’ll be listed just as “magnesium chelate”.
Any of those if worth going with.
I hope you’ve found some value in this hit-list of stress-management methods and I hope to see you all in the gym!