Three Ways to Combat the Daily Grind

Overcome modern day stresses with these helpful tips.

Posted Oct 31, 2017

To most Americans, the “daily grind” can cause untold amounts of stress. A recent large-scale survey about burnout in the United States found that more than 40 percent of workers were so stressed at work they felt burned out, while more than two-thirds of callers to phone-counseling lines at Workplace Options cited stress and anxiety. It’s time we look closer at how to tackle these issues with non-invasive, mindful techniques.

After all, the demands of the daily grind can impact many aspects of our lives, everything from our quality of sleep and work productivity to our relationships. So what steps can we take to improve and balance our lives in the increasingly fast-paced society we live in? Mind-body balance is pivotal. Here are a few lifestyle and daily behaviors that you can tweak to better help you combat the daily grind in a mindful way.

Sleep

Sleep and stress go hand in hand and can be painfully cyclical. Sleep helps relieve stress but a lack of sleep can add to it. In fact, a lack of sleep is one of the biggest causes of added stress in our lives.

The key to making your daily routine more productive and to waking up feeling refreshed is finding a sleeping pattern that works for you. Start by making sure you’re getting enough hours: somewhere between seven and eight is the recommended amount.

But remember, it’s not just about falling asleep. We need high-quality sleep if we’re going to actually give our brains the break they need. To help, work on clearing your mind a few hours before bed. Part of that means turning off the television. Two hours of TV before bed, especially if you’re watching in your room, can lead to poor quality sleep. Turn off your screens and dim any bright lights in anticipation of sleep.

Then, make sure your room is ready for you. A good quality mattress and pillow goes a long way, as does a good room temperature. Aromatherapy can be helpful, too, when it comes to settling down for the night. Try putting a few drops of lavender on your pillow to help you relax. You’ll be amazed at how a full night of restful sleep can help you tackle the daily grind.

Exercise

Did you know that less than five percent of adults actually participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day? It’s a worrying statistic, because a lack of exercise can have negative implications on both mental and physical health. Not only does exercise better your overall health, but it increases your sense of well-being, putting more spring in your step every day.

Exercise is also a great stress reliever. It improves your blood flow and increases your brain’s production of endorphins, as well as your body’s ability to use oxygen. All of which boosts brain health.

Endorphins, in particular, can help beat stress. They’re the neurotransmitters that are responsible for the feel-good emotions that flood your brain during and after exercise. That makes a workout—no matter how brief—a welcome reprieve from the overwhelmingly negative and stressful thoughts.

Nutrition

We are what we eat.

Don’t underestimate how important your food choices are to feeling healthy and centered. Good nutrition can lower your stress levels, while poor nutrition can send them right back up. A healthy diet is key to boosting your immune system, lowering your blood pressure and fighting off stress. With that in mind, here are some tips to make sure your nutrition isn’t sabotaging your well-being:

  • All carbohydrates prompt your brain to make more serotonin (a chemical thought to be responsible for maintaining mood balance), but that doesn’t mean you should be filling up on sweets and sodas. To keep a steady supply of the feel-good chemical, its best to eat complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals like old-fashioned oatmeal. Those take your body a little longer to digest. Simple carbohydrates like sweets, on the other hand, will give you only a quick spike of short-term satisfaction.
  • Have an orange. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline take a toll on your body, but oranges—packed with vitamin C—will strengthen your immune system and help fight back against stress hormones.
  • Are you setting yourself up for a headache? Sometimes you feel fatigued or have a headache because you’re not getting enough magnesium. That can make stress worse. To make sure you’re getting enough, opt for one cup of spinach. If you don’t love spinach, other green and leafy vegetables are good, magnesium-rich alternatives. You can also try cooked soybeans or a fillet of salmon. 
  • To keep your stress in check on a regular basis, work naturally fatty fish into your daily diet. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and tuna can prevent surges in stress hormones. As an added bonus, they may help ward off heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome or PMS. A steady supply means eating three ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week.
  • Snack on a quarter cup of almonds or add them to your salad for some helpful vitamin E and vitamin B. The former will bolster your immune system while the latter will help make you a little more resilient in the face of stress or depression.
  • Crunching on raw vegetables is healthy—and satisfying. Munching on celery or carrot sticks can help in a purely mechanical way by releasing a clenched jaw. Just that little act can help you ward off unwanted tension.

By avoiding the false comfort of junk food and eating regular and balanced meals, food can help you fight the daily grind. If stress is suppressing your appetite, try small portions to start. Make sure that when you’re eating you’re also taking a break. Sometimes just stepping out of the office to eat your lunch or avoiding eating at home while you’re in the process of completing a stressful chore can go a long way to making you feel more relaxed.

Find out even more at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine

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