If you’re looking online for ways to “reduce stress” you’re likely to find general advice such as “sleep more” or “exercise” and “eat healthily”. These are all good things that everyone needs on a daily or weekly basis, but they are so general and don’t really help a busy businessman whose schedule is overflowing anyway.
First we have to realize that stress can be divided into two categories. Physical stress and emotional stress. Emotional stress is mainly caused by thoughts that influence the hormonal balance and make the body stressed, which in turn affects your behaviour. In this article, however, we talk about the second type of stress, namely physical stress.
Physical stress is caused by food and drink. Think of many sugars or alcoholic drinks. But also the use of cigarettes or even soft drugs have a stress-increasing effect on the body. Even a lack of sleep can provoke this kind of stress. In short, it is a reaction of the body to sensory perceptions.
Here are some ways to help you deal with stress
1. Keep an eye on your blood sugar
If we consume food or drink that contains 20 grams or more of sugars or a lot of carbohydrates (such as white rice, bread or potatoes), we experience a quick energy boost. This increases our blood sugar level. At that point, our pancreas begins to produce the hormone insulin to lower the level by storing the nutrients in our bloodstream in our fat cells, muscles and liver. This creates a yo-yo effect on our energy levels and when the blood sugar drops significantly we feel hungry.
This yo-yo effect has consequences for how we experience stress. So if we suddenly get hungry after a busy, stressed day and then stuff ourselves, it’s not going to help our stress level. On the contrary, fatigue and eating disorders are often symptoms of stress.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson explains that he always prescribes his patients suffering from stress and depression to eat their breakfast and lunch low in carbohydrates, so especially options like eggs, meat or fish. Dr. Peterson calls this simple trick as effective as medication. Stabilizing blood sugar during the most stressful part of the day.
If you’re used to a carbohydrate-rich breakfast like yogurt, muesli, or fruit smoothie, try switching to a fried egg with bacon or cheese. The same goes for lunch by choosing a meat dish or fish with some vegetables. Reducing the feeling of hunger and drowsiness will have a direct effect on your stress level.
2. Drink more water
Drinking more water has numerous health effects, but in relation to stress, increasing the general energy level and reducing hunger feelings are the most obvious. Because most biochemical processes in the brain require water and minerals, a well-hydrated body will make you think brighter and faster. You will feel less tired and become more productive.
Feeling too much on the agenda and still unproductive is a major cause of stress. Something as simple as refilling a glass or bottle of water and taking a sip every few minutes is a super practical solution for lowering your stress level and improving your health and performance.
3. Exercise on the same day/time every week
Physical exertion is a proven stress-reducing method. Bearing in mind that if your agenda is already overflowing and you ‘have to’ exercise with it, it may have the opposite effect. Choosing a fixed day and time during the week to exercise diligently (preferably in the morning, for meetings and phone calls that interrupt your day) is indispensable if you want to reduce stress.
A handy trick here is to put a week or even two in advance fixed blocks in your calendar in which you want to exercise. In this way you will be one step ahead of work appointments and social obligations in most cases. That’s two birds with one stone: You exercise more regularly and you avoid the idea that you “also have to exercise”.
4. Sleep according to the day-night rhythm
Sleep is crucial for your health and especially for coping with stress. What you may not know is that each individual experiences different sleep times as optimal for sleeping and waking up. Sleeping at times that are not optimal for you actually increases your stress.
It’s possible to deal with stress. These strategies help quickly reduce stress levels and can easily be built into the daily routine without taking up too much of your precious time.