If you only read one thing, make it this:
“Slamming that second and third coffee each and every day to get through work might add up to make us feel more stressed and anxious.”
If the only breaks you’re getting from your busy schedule are going to the toilet or the few hours you actually spend asleep, it’s about time you became reacquainted with the concept of relaxation. We know, we know – it probably isn’t a priority when there are so many important things to do – staying on top of work, phoning Mum, packing your kids’ lunches, just to name a few – but for the sake of your own wellbeing it’s crucial to factor relaxation into your to-do list.
To help, here are four of the top barriers to relaxing, and tips on how to manage them.
According to naturopathic nutritionist Reece Carter, one of the reasons you’re ‘on’ all day, every day, may be excessive amounts of caffeine.
“The occasional coffee may not hurt, but slamming that second and third coffee each and every day to get through work might add up to make us feel more stressed and anxious,” he says.
“A coffee in the morning is fine, but consider replacing any coffee after that with a non-caffeinated beverage like herbal tea or water – you can infuse it with fresh herbs to make it more exciting.”
For many of us, good-quality sleep is rather elusive. That’s a problem in and of itself, but – in a sort of vicious cycle – it also means you can struggle to relax.
“Studies suggest that chronic – that is, long lasting – lack of sleep is a risk factor for developing anxiety,” says Carter. “Making sure you prioritise seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night is important for those suffering regular feelings of anxiety.”
Having healthy pre-bed habits – which is what health professionals call ‘sleep hygiene’ – is super important.
“Charge your phone in a room other than the bedroom, set a ‘clock off’ time an hour or two before bed, after which time you don’t check emails or social media, and remove all screens from the bedroom,” says Carter.
It sounds counter-intuitive but exercise not only energises you, it also helps you calm down.
“There’s no one right way to do it, just pick your favourite type of exercise and get moving most days,” advises Carter.
“Start your day with a sweat session. It will get your morning started the right way and put you in a better headspace to tackle the day.”
Carter says a poor diet may be fuelling your inability to stay calm.
“Recent studies are uncovering links between diet and mental wellbeing,” he says, adding, “only one in 20 Aussie adults is getting their minimum daily requirement of fruit and veg.”
He recommends filling half your plate with plant-based foods, including colourful vegetables, quarter of the plate with wholegrains or legumes and the other quarter with protein, such as meat or eggs, and a little healthy fat like olive oil or avocado.