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Relieve Anxiety and Help Yourself Sleep Better During Stress Awareness Month

Everything we do is fast. We drive fast. We eat fast. We exercise hard and fast (if at all). We live life in the fast lane. It’s not entirely our fault, though. Upcoming work deadlines, endless family commitments and life’s never-ending obstacles contribute to this fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to. On top of all of that, we’re bombarded with violent, dismal news and flashy, over-stimulating media telling us not only what’s wrong with the world, but also what’s (apparently) wrong with ourselves. All of this attributes to anxiety, restlessness and unsound sleep.

Unplug your smartphone and charge yourself instead

Like infants, who need to wind down and rest after a busy day, adults need downtime too. Our brains are not equipped to handle large amounts of chronic stimulation. They are hardwired for rest.

Think of it this way: How well does your smartphone operate when you use it all day then only charge it for 10 minutes? Not very well since you won’t get a full charge! When you’re out and about, the phone will run out of battery life. Our systems function similarly. When we multitask throughout the day, using our various apps – counting, writing, talking, etc. – we use up a lot of battery life. Or in this case, our actual life. If we operate this way for too long, our systems will no longer work properly. Like a phone with a bad battery. This is when life has spiraled out of balance. We get sick. We get depressed. And sadly, we get “dis-ease.”

Luckily, there’s many ways we incorporate more rest into our busy schedules and lives.

Here are some easy ways to help you rest:

1. Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

Ultimately, aim for a bedtime around 9 p.m. The hours between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. are what is known as your “hours of power.” It’s these hours that your body repairs most effectively. Inching up your bedtime towards 9 p.m. can ensure the best amount of rest and repair in the early hours.

2. Eat more protein.

Serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitter, is created by ample amounts of protein consumed during your day. Serotonin is also the precursor to melatonin, which is the best hormone for inducing sleep and rest. Aim for 25 to 30 grams at each meal of a quality, animal-based or plant-based protein, like grass-fed beef, eggs, hemp seeds or walnuts.

3. Consume other stress-relieving foods. Try:

  • Avocados. This green wonders’ double-whammy of monounsaturated fat and potassium may help lower blood pressure, which is a stress response. Try it on a salad or whip up a batch of guacamole to dip veggies in.
  • Chamomile Tea. Chamomile has a long history of use for insomnia, relaxation and anxiety. It can also help treat indigestion and nausea. Enjoy a cup at bedtime.
  • Dark Chocolate or cocoa. High in flavonoids, which are lauded for their relaxing properties, cocoa also contains a chemical compound that boosts serotonin production! Aim for 80 percent dark chocolate or higher for the optimal effect. And sorry, your favorite milk chocolate treats won’t help but will rather lead to stress due to inflammation.

4. Pencil yourself into your schedule.

You pencil in everyone but yourself, so perhaps deliberately penciling your name with your favorite way to relax apart from electronics. Even as little as five minutes can do a great deal of healing within your body daily.

5. Try yoga, specifically Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is the yoga of sleep. It’s a way to progressively relax every muscle of the body. Six months of Nidra practice can significantly reduce anxiety and depression and improves health overall and well-being. Some swamis believe that a one-hour session of Nidra is equivalent to four hours of night rest. If you’re interested, try my Quick Guided Yoga Nidra practice.

6. Magnesium can help.

If you’re constantly restless – restless sleep, restless leg syndrome, even simply just feeling restless during the day – you could have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is the calming mineral and may ebb feelings of restlessness as well as help those who struggle with sleep issues. Consult your healthcare practitioner to decide how much magnesium would be beneficial to your unique biochemistry.

When you feel 100 percent, you can give 100 percent to everything and everyone in your life. It begins with getting the rest you need. After that, you can surely take care of the rest… of everything else.

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