Don't distress... de-stress!

If Sunday night fills you with dread, you feel like you're struggling to fit your life around your work, or you feel like you're living in a pressure cooker, it's time to take action.

Stress is sometimes hard to control, particularly when you're overworked and management just seem to keep piling on the pressure. But the negative effects of stress are too damaging for us to ignore so what we shouldn't do is accept it and quietly ignore it.

Of course, there are many elements of your work life that you can't control; deadlines will always loom, management will always expect more and some projects will always feel overwhelming. However, there are many things in your own life that you can and should control, and by doing so you can make a rapid and positive difference to your emotional and physical health today.

So, here are 3 quick wins you can implement right now:

1. Eat to fuel your body with energy for the day.

Forget low-carb-low-fat-800-calorie-starve-yourself-every-other-day-of-the-week-diets, as they don’t work in the long-term anyway[^1]. If your day is hard work, physically or mentally, you need to give your body the proper fuel to deal with it. That also means you need to minimise the biscuit and sugary coffee intake.

Instead, what your body needs is a source of protein at every meal, a portion of good quality fats, heaps of vegetables and some starchy wholegrain carbs (such as rye, oats, brown rice and pasta…). Add to that frequent gulps of water throughout the day and you're on to a winner. The added bonus of this? If you are looking to lose some inches, this will enable you to do so in a way which is healthy, sustainable and will quell those hunger pangs!

2. Work more movement into your day

So many of us spend the majority of our day, hunched over a computer, tied to the phone, or sat behind the wheel. Not only is this bad for our posture, it's also doing absolutely nothing for our heart health. Thankfully it's easily solved as nothing beats the mood and energy enhancing benefits of getting outside in the fresh air and raising your heart rate. Depending on your current fitness levels, this could mean taking a brisk walk, going for jog, playing a game of footie or even taking part in a local outdoors boot camp. Why not get together with a few of your colleagues and head over to a local park after work? And, the added bonus of this? Exercise boosts brain function so you might even find you’ve had a very productive meeting at the end of it!

3. Sleep like a baby

Nope, I don't mean wake up screaming at 2am, but this cliche is actually really useful advice that all of us should follow.

Although it's the last tip, it’s certainly not the least important. Sleep repairs your body and without enough quality shut-eye each night you will become more susceptible to illness, injury and depression. If you’re a new parent reading this, you’re probably thinking that sleep would feel like Christmas has arrived early and, of course, getting a full 6-8 hours in does become a lot harder. But there are many things we can all do to aid restful sleep when we do have the chance. Firstly, set a routine and stick to it; if 10pm is your bedtime, make sure the TV is off and work is finished 15 minutes before this time. It's too easy for 'just 5 more minutes' escape you and, before you know it, it's 11pm and you've lost an hour of vital, restorative sleep.

Once you're in the bedroom, eradicate all light; no TV or mobile phone use, switch off landing lights, put up black-out blinds if you need to. Light, produces cortisol in our bodies so, any light in your bedroom at night becomes an enemy to good, quality sleep. Plus, the added bonus of this? More restful sleep will provide you with more energy the following day better equipping you to deal with any stresses!

Why not choose just one of the starting points above and try integrating it into your daily habits and routines this week? Making just a few small changes to your food, movement and sleep could make a huge difference to your physical and mental wellbeing, no matter what's thrown at you!

Good luck and let me know how you get on over on Facebook...