Dealing With Stress

Here are a few tips on stress and how to reduce it based on my own personal experience. My situation has lasted five years so far and these things have helped keep me strong.

Vitamins


  • Magnesium: If you are experiencing cramps, twitching eye or have ringing in your ears (tinnitus) you could be deficient in Magnesium. Magnesium is used in most of the body's chemical reactions. Stress depletes magnesium like crazy. Increasing magnesium intake will help with sleep, anxiety and general mental health. The RDA is 400mg per day. An absorbent type of magnesium is magnesium citrate. Note: Magnesium citrate is a slight laxative and your body might need a few days to get used to it. Beware of other cheaper less absorbent compounds for example magnesium oxide.
  • Fish Oils: Taking a fish oil supplement for 6 weeks or longer can improve mental health and reduce depression. Studies have shown that prison inmates fought less and were calmer after a regular intake of fish oil. Look for supplements that have high EPA content.
  • Multivitamin: Taking a good quality multivitamin (eg by Solgar) during extended periods of stress will ensure your body and mind are in peak health and receive all the nutrients they need. 

Diet


  • Sugary foods: Sweets, chocolate, rice, bread and anything else with a high GI content is going to make your insulin levels go up and down like a yo yo. One minute you'll feel full of energy then next you'll feel tired. Cut down on sweets and sugary drinks and see what happens to the stress levels. Eat high protein or high fat foods instead of bread and sugary products.
  • Stimulants: Tea, coffee, diet coke, and nicotine are stimulants which are going to make you more agitated. If you can't sleep or feel anxious then first give up these things. Don't consume stimulants and take sleeping (or anti-anxiety) pills at the same time, there is little point.
  • Alcohol: If you want to sleep well then don't drink alcohol. Ever wondered why you sometimes wake up early after a heavy night of drinking? When you drink alcohol your brain skips REM sleep. It might get you to sleep faster but the quality is much worse. You'll wake up with low blood sugar, feel tired, crave junk foods and feel less inclined to exercise.

Exercise


Whether it's a cardio workout or just lifting weights, exercise is good for stress. A cardio workout such as running or swimming can focus the mind. Doubling the heart rate during cardio exercise, for more than 20 minutes will create a sense of calm afterwards. Walking around for 20 minutes will not do the same though. If you are unfit then try lifting weights or resistance machines at the gym for 10 minutes until your muscles sting, which can also create a sense of calm afterwards. Increase the resistance. A morning workout can put you in good mood for the rest of the day.


Audio Books


Listening to audio books can be a great way to relax if there's a lot on your mind. There are plenty of books on Audible.com (an amazon company) that can be downloaded to your mobile phone. They have plenty of factual or fiction books. You can subscribe for just £6.99 which allows one book per month. One book is usually between 10 to 20 hours of listening time and pretty good value for money. Listening to a book can be more calming that listening to music, because your mind stays focussed on the book and not your private thoughts.


Keeping a diary


If you have a lot of thoughts running through your head, going round and round then keep a diary. Have a hot bath, put on your most comfortable pair of slippers and sit down with a pen and paper and write down what you are thinking. Write what's on your mind and how you can deal with each thing. Write down a plan. Then revisit it twice a week. If you don't write things down your brain will not switch off and those thoughts will keep going round and round in your head driving you mad. 

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