Want to feel more in control of your stress? Angela Martindale, celebrity nutritionist and fitness trainer says these 4 tips will help.
Men have a unique set of challenges when it comes to busting stress.
- Men are generally more conservative with their dialogue about personal challenges, daily thoughts and work load concerns.
- Men generally have a harder time seeking methods of alleviating stress, feeling like they should be able to handle it all instead
- Because men generally have a harder time acknowledging and verbalizing stress, it can be difficult to pinpoint the correct outlet of alleviating stress, which just leads to more built up anxiety, bad moods and frustration.
So what can men do to better bust their stress? Here are 4 easy tips that can help you better acknowledge that you have stress in the first place, manage the stress physically and help your body recover from it.
1. Take A Cue From Bond:
Whenever I work with male clients, I reiterate the importance of acknowledging the stress factors in their lives to manage them more effectively. Since men in general are more internal problem solvers rather than external sharers, I suggest keeping a stress journal.
A journal may not seem like a James Bondish type of stress reliever, but it is is a simple way to acknowledge the daily concerns of the job, family responsibilities (if any), financial and/or personal relationship stress, along with any emotions you may feel throughout the day, without having to put a lot of energy into verbalizing them with people. James was not an avid sharer of information, but he did feel an enormous amount of stress in every aspect of his life. Those that were close to him (M for example) communicated as little as possible, but with true affection for one another, and often times through written messages. So, why not a journal for the Bond in you?
Dividing the journal into 4 categories: Home, Family, Financial, and Personal can make this daily exercise much more efficient and effective.
Spending 5-10 minutes/day or week to express any thoughts or physical stressors on paper, also leaves a visual record for you to assess the progress in resolving that stress as well. There is no talking involved, acknowledgment of the stress takes place, and problem solving doesn’t include others unless you want it to.
2. Hit The Gym Like James:
Going to the gym is more than just a physical experience. Heading out the door to workout means that your endorphins kick in and your brain tells your body that you feel good-which makes hitting the gym a mental wellness activity too.
Working out (not just body-building) at least 3 times a week for 35-45 minutes gives your body an outlet for your emotional stress. When we are engaged in physical activity, our brain focuses on our actions instead of our stress. It is essentially like a mini-vacation from our thoughts, while our body channels and releases built up energy derived from daily stress, so that we can alleviate both mental and physical duress at the same time. Being stronger, leaner and feeling more capable of handling the stress is a direct result of giving ourselves an outlet for tension release. Mixing up your physical activity to develop a new interest such as kick boxing, outdoor hiking, rock climbing, biking, skiing, running or swimming, can also bring a new focus into you life that can help put daily stress into perspective, while giving you something positive to look forward to during the day.
After all, James Bond was a man of many physical talents!
3. Feed Your Fantasy:
Eating right is probably one of the most effective means of keeping your stress in check. Our bodies are a delicate Eco-system of living cells. We need live foods to continue creating healthy cells that carry nutrients, oxygen, vitamins and minerals throughout our body. When we experience stress, our bodies go into flight or fight mode which pulls energy out of our physical
reserve leaving us feeling tired, worn out, achy and hormonally imbalanced often with a build-up of testosterone that would even leave James Bond in a bad mood.
Eating foods that are vital to keeping our alkaline levels and hormones balanced will offer you more opportunity to think clearly, have energy to hit the gym and recover from the negative impact stress has on the body.
Eating lean protein (such as grilled chicken and fish) is vital (30 grams of protein per lb of body weight is my recommendation) for our muscles and tissues to recover and our brain to receive the amino acids it needs for our neuro-transmitters to function properly, so that we can think clearly when we need to.
Eating super foods like strawberries, blueberries, pomegranate, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and apples will ensure that your body receives phytochemicals important to healthy oxidized blood, that can transport anti-oxidants and essential vitamins from live foods to our cells that feed our neuro-system for general health. The more of these foods your body receives, the better chance your brain has of getting everything it needs to better process and manage your daily stress.
After all, Bond would never put fast food or empty calories into his physical machine-it would cloud his mental ability to handle killing the bad guys while charming the ladies! Want to be like Bond? Feed your fantasy the food it deserves.
4. Take a Bond-like Breath:
Stress requires time for your body to mentally and physically process. A calm environment for your brain to quiet all other distractions is a beneficial component of stress-management.
Breathing is a technique we do not use enough when it comes to our emotional and physical management.
Here is what deep abdominal breathing does for your body:
- Slow, rhythmic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for stimulation of “resting-and-digesting”) and triggers your brain to go into rest/relax mode, allowing you to have a small escape-like experience from any negative pressure you’re feeling.
- Deep, intentional breathing also has medical benefits such as:
Lowered blood pressure, Reduced Heart Rate, An increase in nitric-oxide (a molecule our body naturally produces helping our cells to communicate with each other). When we breathe deeply, our cells tell our body to be more effective at relaxing. It also helps our body cells to support increased cardio endurance and strength, and helps with muscle relaxation (especially beneficial for those carrying stress in their shoulders and neck).
- Deep breathing powers down your mind and body so that you can clear your thoughts to pinpoint your true emotional responses to your stress, and gain more perspective on how you resolve the stress or at least cope with the stress more effectively.
We need 20-30 minutes of deep, focused breathing per day to give our brain and body the best chance of recovery possible. One evening exercise you can do is called the
- Lay on your back — either on the floor, your couch or on your bed.
- Silently count to 4, as you breathe in through your nose, making sure that your abdomen rises as you do so.
- Once you have inhaled to the count of four, hold your breath and silently count from 1 to 7 with your eyes closed. Concentrate on feeling the breath throughout your body.
- Silently count from 1 to 8, while exhaling slowly through your mouth, making sure that all of the air is out of your lungs when you are done counting.
- You can repeat this breathing routine between 4-8 times to feel totally relaxed and fall asleep with your mind completely powered-down.
Incorporating this exercise will leave you feeling relaxed and better able to handle your daily load. Even James had to power down to recover from his external and internal injuries alike, and look how well he managed them all?
These four tips are key to helping you feel more in control of your stress, rather then letting your stress control you, and will become vital to your daily routines the more you implement them. Don’t waste another minute trying to figure out how Bond does it & get busy busting stress like a man!
Photo credit: Flickr/ClaraDon