Stress—it affects us all.
Stress impairs our thoughts, actions, motivation, energy, health and productivity. But having no stress is not any better than being over-stressed. Both extremes can cause distress on the body and mind.
Eustress, or “good stress,” is what we should be aiming for. A happy range between challenge – success, healing – flourishing and work – rest.
Only you can find that balance. But once you are there, you will know it because you will thrive and be filled with creativity, focus, productivity.
Pause, Reflect and Create
Coping and healing your body and mind from stress is freeing. It allows you to finally breath and take the time to pause, reflect and create.
Focusing your energy on ways to be productive and efficient can be challenging in itself. There are hacks that can help you effectively manage your stress. However, there are other more specific treatments to stimulate your mind to be sharp and have clarity.
Here’s a look at 12 simple ways to get started:
Rest and sleep.
Even after one night of sleep deprivation, research shows performance deficits. Go to bed between 10-11 pm and wake at the same time every day.
Keep a water bottle beside you at all times to stay hydrated. I use the elastic band trick to keep track of my water intake. Start your day off with 6 rubber bands on your water bottle. Each time you drink a glass, remove a band and place it on your wrist. When you’ve drank all 6 glasses replace them back on your bottle for the next day.
Avoid additives– artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats, olestra, food dyes, sodium chloride/ sulfite/ nitrate/ nitrite, BHA/ BHT/ propyl gallate, sulfur dioxide, potassium bromate and parabens. The truth behind the 13 most feared additives is shocking. For example, “eurobehavioural tests show high-aspartame diets (25 mg/kg body weight/day) lead to increased irritable mood, more depression, and worse performance on spatial orientation tests.”
Limit toxin exposure.
Toxins surround us all the time. Whether it’s in the fast-foods we eat, the poor water quality we drink, the pollution from the city air or the harmful self-talk that we say to ourselves—these all have cumulative negative effects on the body, so limit them as much as possible. Learn about the best solutions to limit toxin accumulation from everyday exposures.
Are you eating yourself sick? I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve met that go all day on just coffee and a bite of a bagel. Food is your fuel not caffeine. Focus on highly nutritious foods that give you the most bang for your buck. This includes leafy green vegetables, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Avoid sugary treats, carb-loaded meals, and starchy snacks. Eat real food.
Supplement your diet.
Healthy fats from fish oil, coconut oil, soy (Phosphatidyl choline, Posphatidyl serine), and vitamin D play an important role in your nervous system, brain function and cellular membrane.
Include a diet of herbs.
Gotu kola, Ginkgo, Rosemary leaf, and Bacopa are natural nootropic herbs that help stimulate more blood flow to the brain and helps with memory, creativity, concentration and productivity without the hangover side effect of some drugs.
Get sun and exercise.
Get your vitamin D: “When UV B light from the sun or artificial light hits skin cells, a molecule in our skin cells called 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted into a preliminary form of vitamin D, cholecalciferol.” Meanwhile, circulate those endorphines everyday through exercise.
Create positivity by visualizing success, standing in powerful poses (proper posture, arms up, hands on hips), repeating powerful mantras and surrounding yourself with positive people.
Find a signal that will kick start your productivity. It could be a specific song, favorite chair, taking off your watch, turning social media off, working with a pencil between your teeth, or wearing headphones.
Set a timer to go off every 50-90 minutes and get up. Help stimulate circulation and productivity by taking a short break.
Tune into yourself.
What does your body need? A short walk, water, to use the washroom, to readjust your posture, to breath, relax your shoulders, get outside or stretch.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Dr. Alison Chen is a Naturopathic Doctor and world traveler. She is the co-owner of The Naturopathic Doctor Deveopement Center (NDDC) and runs her own website at DrAlisonChen.com. Her home base is Toronto, Canada but she escapes the cold winters with her partner to tropical destinations while running her online company. Connect with @DrAlisonChenND on Twitter.