Eating well, getting enough sleep, regular exercise…these are all things we know we should be doing to keep our bodies in tip-top condition. But we all have those unavoidable periods of our life when things go from regular busy to crazy busy. Whether it’s because you’re on deadline for a major project or juggling multiple responsibilities, it results in burning the candle at both ends. Your workout regime goes out the window, sleep becomes a distant memory and the lack of shuteye has you reaching for greasy fast foods.
With everything we know about the effect of stress on the body, it can be tempting to turn down opportunities to avoid these chaotic periods. But when managed correctly, your body can actually handle these short-term periods of acute stress. It’s when the stress is chronic (or long-term) that you’re at risk of burnout. However, in order to bring your A-game when the pressure is on (and not come out the other side feeling like a living zombie), there are a few steps you’ll need to take. Here are 5 simple ways to support your body during a busy week.
When you’ve got a bazillion things to do and only so many hours to get them done, it’s tempting to rely on caffeine to help you power through. However, when you’re stressed, your body released the stress hormone cortisol — and drinking too much caffeine just kicks this into overdrive. Not only can this make you anxious and jittery and put more stress on your adrenals, it may also make it harder to get some much-needed shuteye. A great alternative is matcha green tea. It still contains caffeine but it will give you a nice, smooth buzz without the comedown — and it also contains the stress-relieving amino acid L-theanine.
Even if you’re not normally a big supplements person, taking them during a busy week can help you keep your stress levels in check. Some great ones for relieving anxiety are ashwagandha, melatonin (great for helping you get a good night’s sleep), valerian root, vitamin B3 (a great antidote to adrenaline) and lemon balm.
It may sound obvious, but eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for managing stress and keeping your immune system working. It’s perfectly normal to reach for greasy comfort foods during these chaotic periods, but you’ll only end up feeling worse (and it will probably lead to brain fog, which will make it harder to get your work done!) We know you probably won’t have much time for cooking — so why not have your slow cooker do the hard work for you with these nutritious comfort food recipes?
It’s no secret that exercise works wonders for stress relief and keeping your mind sharp. So, if you can fit some gym sessions into your busy week then great! However, when you’re already stressed, you may want to avoid doing steady state cardio (like jogging or using the elliptical). Much like drinking coffee, these types of workouts can stimulate cortisol and put more pressure on the body. If you do want to do cardio, opt for shorter burst like HIIT or sprints, or go for something lower intensity like yoga, walking or pilates.
“But I don’t have time for self-care, I’ve got too much to do!” you may protest. This is exactly when you need it the most! Even if it’s just taking a nice, long bath or going for a walk on the beach, taking a little time out of your week for yourself will help you recharge your batteries. This will make you more focused, energised and ready to get sh*t done! To find out how you can practice self-care in as little as 5 minutes, check out this article.