“You snooze, you lose “
Stress seems to be our everyday unavoidable reality. Though it drains us, we can’t stop moving and building towards what we want to achieve even when times are this hard. The new year especially puts a lot of pressure to ‘meet up’ on people. So either emotionally or physically, we are all going through our share of stress.
Evidentially, humans are not wired for stress considering the endless health risks, physical changes, the dietary and emotional effects it comes with. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “all Nigerians are angry”, and that might equally apply to you if you’re in the ‘hustling’ and educational system. How do you leave this category of furious people even when you have to keep working towards your goal? How do you stop chanting, “this school will not kill me”, yet you find yourself spiralling into 100 different moods a day because of your grades? How can you stay healthy even when the fatherland comes up with new ways to stress you every day?. Here are 10 tips to keep you healthy even when you are stressed:
1. Eat healthily
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A good immune system is only imminent when you eat well and this can’t be stressed enough. Eating is not grabbing Bigi apple and Gala on your way to class, an endless routine of spaghetti, soaking garri or worse still ignoring your stomach because you are too busy to feel hungry. Well-nourished bodies cope better with stress, so start with a good breakfast, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible and drink more water. A hungry man is an angry man and an undernourished yet stressed body is no home of productivity.
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2. Balance work and home as much as you need to
You need a balance whether it is with your schoolwork, your new business, your freelancing job or your side hustle. Self-care is so important and no one should have to neglect that when it should be highly prioritised. Work more on creating a work-home balance, not only does it help you relax, it gives you enough time to connect with your family and your significant other.
3. Have enough sleep
Whatever noise led you to think you are spending too much time sleeping should be silenced. Sudden or ongoing stress activates your nervous system and floods your bloodstream with adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that raise blood pressure, increase heart rate and spike blood sugar. These hormones keep your body in a constant fight or flight mode (can you see why Nigerians are said to be angry?). Those hormones are only helpful for situations like dodging a car accident or running when you sense danger. But most modern chronic stressors, such as finances, a challenging relationship or your grades keep your body in that heightened state, which hurts your health. Sleep flushes out stress hormones and it is the 6-8 hours kind of sleep I am referring to.
4. Develop good coping mechanisms
It is easy to assume alcohol, cigarette, weed and other hard drugs can relieve you of stress. What is more stressful than having failing organs? Not even with the present haphazard state of every system in this country, especially the medical system. This is a reminder to cherish and care for your organs so you don’t have to put on a coat of regret. There are numerous healthier and long-lasting coping mechanisms starting with yoga and meditations. Breathe, take a walk, listen to music, give yourself a hand massage and say no to drugs.
5. Schedule time for yourself
What is that hobby you have neglected for so long because you couldn’t find the time to enjoy it? It can even be just you on Netflix watching new shows, Kdrama and other movies.
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You don’t have a Netflix subscription? Use Netnaija. Whatever you decide to, remember we all need our “me” times.
6. Socialise with the right people
You are already too stressed to not associate with the right set of people. Connect yourself with supportive friends that can cheer you on anytime you are on the verge of breaking down. Trust me things can get hard and even though everyone keeps saying “one man for himself”, as iron sharpens iron, we all need to be surrounded by people that boost our energy levels not add to our stress levels. If you are the one stressing others, you need to do better as a human.
7. Look on the bright side
Worrying, overthinking and always sucking at negative thoughts will only add to your stress levels. It is also a waste of productive and relaxation hours. There is a clear difference between trying to work out solutions and constantly drawing yourself into shadows of dark clouds every time life throws you rocks. Protect your mental health as it directly affects your physical health. Do not put too much pressure on yourself and commit to setting realistic goals, accepting your flaws and learning from your mistakes. Come to terms with imperfection.
Regular exercise can boost your mood, promote weight loss, and help you get a good night’s sleep. If your timetable is as headache giving as mine and you still have work, you probably don’t have time for the gym. Your body requires 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and numerous applications can help you through a home work out session. You can’t exercise every day? Your minimum sessions should be twice a week, download a pedometer and get moving.
9. Say no
You can’t be in a constant habit of being at everyone’s beck and call. It seems to be a polite thing to say “yes” to every task and everyone gnawing at your attention but overworking can lead to a major breakdown. You need to recognise and respect your limits to maintain control of your time and health. Carefully consider every request and only accept those you’re willing and able to handle while considering both your mental and physical health. Do not let the world fetish of overworking get to you.
10. Get help
If you have already tried numerous self-help tips and you can’t seem to relieve your stress, it is time to seek professional assistance. Do not fall into the habit of belittling it because you feel it is ‘just’ stress when it is draining you on every level. Seek help from professional coaches, counsellors and therapists.
Conclusively, if our lives had duplicates, everyone would live recklessly. Challenge yourself to live more healthily, accept that life comes with the good and bad, create time for enjoyment and work smart to avoid putting pressure on your body.
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