There’s no shortage of so-called energy boosters available in a can or a cup. But when you need it most, no matter what the commercial says, a caffeine-filled drink won’t help you get through a tough day. When you feel sluggish, stressed out, or at your wit’s end, you need power to get past the hard times with a positive outlook. Use these power tools to fix your stressful mess and get back to the best you-inside and out.
POWER OF MOVEMENT: GET UP AND GET OUT
The 3rd annual Work Stress Survey was just released and the numbers are not pretty. More than eight out of ten Americans are stressed about at least one thing about their job. If this is you and you have a sedentary job, you can’t afford to take the stress sitting down. Because tension resides mentally and physically, use the power of movement. A recent study found that even if you meet the minimum recommended physical activity, sitting all day can counteract the gains you make during exercise. During a 10-minute break, take a leisurely walk and get outdoors for some Vitamin D. If you can’t leave, standing for as little as 5 to 10 minutes per hour will help you relieve tension. A recent Harvard study has found that as little as two minutes in an open, expansive stance called a “power pose” can increase feelings of confidence and power and reduce stress. Standing, walking, or even a running a few flights of stairs helps you mentally by allowing you to change your environment, and the movement will help physically by loosening your muscles and increase your blood flow which will make you feel better naturally.
POWER OF MUSIC: STAY CALM, INSPIRED, AND FOCUSED
You’ve probably experienced days when your mind was going a mile-a-minute with all the things you needed to do. To relax a little and help you get activated, use the power of music. A report by researchers from Brunel University in the UK found that music introduced both before and during exercise improves workout enjoyment and performance while lowering the perception of exertion. If music can take away the pain of exercise, why shouldn’t it help you push through other times of stress on your mind and body. Of course, what kind of music you listen to is important. While uptempo dance music may help you run faster, to de-stress, you’d probably go for calming music with inspiring messages that will help keep you focused. A great balance of rhythm, calming chants, and inspiration is Capoeira music.
POWER OF THOUGHT: OVERCOMING STRESS WITH A DAILY MANTRA
Stress is a normal part of life, but chronic stress, the kind that triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response too frequently, shouldn’t be activated constantly. If it is, weight loss is harder, getting sick is easier, and sleeping and waking is thrown off. To turn off the switch of chronic stress, you’ll have to look at every aspect of your life. You may have heard don’t bring work home, but are you bringing problems at home to work? Do you have personal struggles that affect your ability to work at peak performance? Take care of your personal life first. The easiest time to set the tone of your day is when you wake up in the morning. A mantra that affirms your hope in your future and forces you to take action toward positive change is the goal. Whatever you say should foster self-acceptance, perseverance, and allow you to be both strong and vulnerable. If you can’t make one on your own, start with this Pinterest page of positive mantras. Look yourself in the mirror and infuse your day with an optimistic start.
POWER OF BREATH
If work really is the source of your chronic stress, come up with a plan to piece-meal your challenges and deal with them one-by-one. As you move forward, make sure you breathe. When it comes to seemingly insurmountable tasks, it’s easy to ignore your breathing pattern. Think about this: Patience is a virtue, progress takes time. In the same amount of time it takes you to read this, you could take in a deep breath and exhale. That alone could help ease your mind and help you power through your day. Take time to focus on your breath to clear your mind-space.
Try this 5-miunte breathing exercise for meditation:
Start by closing your eyes and breathing in and out deeply.
After you feel grounded, breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth 5 times.
Use your finger to close off one of your nostrils and repeat the breath 5 more times. Alternate sides and repeat that side 5 more times.
Now reverse your breathing by breathing in through your mouth and out of your nose 5 times.
Return to closing off one of your nostrils again, continue the in-through-your-mouth-out-of-your-nose breathing. Alternate sides and repeat the breath 5 more times.
End the exercise by breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth until you feel calm enough to move on with your day.
POWER OF FUEL
Last but certainly not least, use the power of food to take the stress away. In addition to good music, positive words, and nature, fuel your body with food that will help make it run at its best. In addition to letting go of processed foods and going for naturally good-for-you fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, go for superfoods that give you a boost of nutrients that will help heal the harmful effects of stress. Antioxidants help improve your body’s ability to fight back. Raw cacao reportedly has more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea, and red wine. Add it to protein shakes, desserts, or on top of fruit. Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It can be ground or added to liquids. Add chia sprouts into sandwiches, salads, soups, and yogurt as well. When you eat is also important to keeping you stress-free. Be sure not to skip meals. Eating every 3-4 hours to ensure you keep your blood sugar balanced. Eating regular meals of healthy foods will help you fight off cravings, hunger, and a bad mood.