Think of your fitness and energy as a bucket. In your day-to-day life there are things that fill your bucket up: good nutrition, sleep, a positive mental attitude, other types of recovery, etc. There are also things that drain your bucket: exercise, poor eating habits, and all forms of stress and anxiety.
For us to stay fit and healthy mentally and physically, we have to make sure the inputs stay ahead of the outputs. We need to patch any “bad” leaks in our bucket, because even a slow leak will add up over time. For most of us, stress is the biggest leak we need to plug.
Here are some tips to help manage your stress and anxiety:
- Get regular exercise. Even though exercise is a drain on your energy, it’s worth it. Countless studies have shown that regular intense exercise reduces stress.
- Eat right. Good nutrition and stress are directly related. When our bodies are poorly fed, stress takes an even bigger toll on our overall health. Not eating because you’re too stressed out? It’s a vicious cycle…not eating only makes your stress worse.
- Maintain a healthy support network of friends and family. Having friends and loved ones you can lean on is vital to stress management. It’s much better to deal with stressful issues in the present…keeping things bottled up will only lead to a bigger issue down the road.
- Keep a daily journal. Write about your personal values and how the events of each day connected with those values. Over the last 20 years, nearly 100 studies have shown this type of “value journaling” can improve our ability to manage stressful situations.
- Try not to work for an entire day uninterrupted. Leave your desk for lunch. Come to the gym. Even just get up and go for a walk. For most of us work is a stressful environment, so taking even a small break from that environment during the day will help.
The four pillars of fitness–sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress management all operate in symbiosis. They’re all equally important to our overall health and wellness. Paying careful attention to each one will help you keep your bucket full.