1. Self-care: What is something that you love to do? Build that activity into your weekly routine and make it a priority. Some ideas are going for a walk, getting a massage, or seeing a friend. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, even one hour a week is beneficial.
  1. Recognize stressors: When are you most stressed, and is there something you can do to change it? Oftentimes setting firm boundaries (no emails after a certain time), letting things go (my house doesn’t need to be spotless), or asking for help (can you watch the kids?) are the biggest steps we can take to limit stress.
  1. Breathe: The body can’t exist in both fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest at the same time. When you feel yourself switching into fight-or-flight, stop and take three slow, deep breaths. This forces your body back into rest-and-digest and helps us to feel calm.
  1. Meditate: Daily meditation practice helps to lower overall stress levels through the whole day. Download a meditation app to help guide you, and start small with five to ten minutes daily.
  1. Prioritize sleep: Melatonin is our sleep hormone, and it inhibits our stress hormone, cortisol, so getting a good sleep is one of the best ways to lower stress. A consistent routine is the best way to set yourself up for successful sleep. Set a bedtime, turn all screens off 30 minutes before bed and use that time to wind-down, and sleep in a dark room or use a sleep mask.
  1. Counselling: Consider seeking out professional help, especially if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression. Therapy helps us process challenging situations, understand how they impact our mood, and provides us with tools and support for moving forward.
  1. Gentle exercise: Exercise reduces cortisol and boosts endorphins (our feel-good hormones). Research supports almost any type of exercise for stress reduction, so choose something that you enjoy. If you feel depleted after a workout instead of invigorated, you have pushed yourself too hard and likely increased your stress levels instead of lowering them. Less is often more when it comes to using exercise as a coping tool for stress.
  1. Keep blood sugar stable: When our blood sugar spikes and crashes, it makes us feel on edge and makes it more difficult to cope with stress. Minimize sugar, and focus on having fat, fibre and protein with every meal and snack. Simple tricks include adding nuts, seeds, hemp hearts, or beans to keep blood sugar balanced. For example, pair almond butter with an apple, add beans to a salad, or chia seeds to yogurt.
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