women

Power Surge - Triple your energy in just three weeks (Part 1) - Week1 : Squelch stress

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Use our 21-step guide to increase your get-up-and-go!

With juggling work and family responsibilities 24/7, and having to process endless information, it’s no wonder we’re a generation that’s completely over-whelmed and exhausted.

Description: Triple your energy in just three weeks.

Triple your energy in just three weeks.

But let’s consider the alternative: waling up with a passion for life and living it every single day. With our 21-day programme, that energy can be yours. In just three weeks, you’ll master the fundamentals of getting fired up: reducing stress, eating right and optimising exercise. So don’t just sir there. It’s time to banish fatigue!

Week1/Squelch stress

We’re perpetually under pressure and our fight-or-flight response gets stuck in “on” mode. Talk about exhausting!

“Most of our stress occurs when we feel overwhelmed, unable to cope or aren’t in control of a situation,” says Shelton Kartun, a stress counselor and CEO of The Anger & Stress Management Center of SA. “Financial strain, traffic, job insecurity, demanding children, ageing parents, difficult people, moving home and relationship problems are all major stressors.”

The good news is you can reverse the cycle: not by eliminating stress, but by becoming more resilient in the face of it. That’s your focus for the next seven days.

Description: not by eliminating stress, but by becoming more resilient in the face of it.

Not by eliminating stress, but by becoming more resilient in the face of it.

Day 1: Attack your angst

Description: can you delegate some duties?

Can you delegate some duties?

Research shows that people who process negative experiences on paper are healthier than those who simply ruminate.

“Studies show that when individuals write about emotional experiences, significant physical and mental health improvements follow,” says James Pennebaker, author of “Writing About Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process” in the journal Psychological Science.

So get a diary and write down anything that’s bothering you. Then brainstorm ways to improve issues within your control. If money’s a problem, can you refinance debts or slash expenses? If work’s overwhelming you, can you delegate some duties? In the case of family troubles, would you consider therapy?

Next, write down things you’re grateful for. Studies reveal that taking stock of the positives lifts energy levels.

Day 2: Soothe the symptoms

Description: Soothe the symptoms

Soothe the symptoms

“There are many stress-related signs. They may be headaches, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, decreased immunity, low libido, irritability, anxiety and insomnia,” says Kartun.

Notice how your body responds to angst (when you take on a task and get a headache, for example) and learn how to manage it. For particularly painful or persistent problems, talk to your doctor or try a programme like mindfulness-based stress reduction

Day 3: Check your bed

“Sleep deprivation can cause health problems, including depleted energy levels. Most people need seven to nine hours of shuteye a night but aren’t getting that,” says Dr Susan Musikanth, a Cape Town counseling psychologist. Common issues include an uncomfortable environment and multiple interruptions (from partners and pets to allergies and anxiety).

Description: Check your bed

Check your bed

For a more restorative night’s rest, try proven strategies, like going to bed and waking up at the same times (even on weekends); making the bedroom dark (try using a sleep mask); limiting caffeine intake; and avoiding stressful evening activities (no horro films or midnight home-budget balancing!)

Day 4: Log off

Information overload and the pressure to instantly respond to calls, emails and texts has led to a self-imposed teachno-stress.

“We don’t allow ourselves to switch off but seem to want to be on-call 24/7. Now there are iPads and tablets and social media updates on facebook and Twitter. So we don’t stop and can even become addicted to all of this, which inspires a kind of exhaustion,” says Kartun.

Description: Turn off your cellphone and shut down your email

Turn off your cellphone and shut down your email.

He suggests that you limit yourself. “Do other things, like exercise. Take five-minute breaks on the hour to step away from your computer. Turn off your cellphone and shut down your email.”

Day 5: Breathe out

Relaxing breath is a powerful way to create a calm and alert state of mind, comments Brian Bergman, a cape Town-based yoga and meditation. “It’s an effortless technique and that’s why it’s relaxing. We breathe all the time. A practice of simply observing this thing that is going on anyway requires no effort,” he says.

Description: Breathe out

Breathe out

To do it: breathe in through the nose to a count of four, hold for one second, then exhale through the mouth to a count of five. Repeat four times morning and night for calm and steady energy.

Day 6: Set limits

When was the last time you said “no” to something? “Don’t allow others to take advantage of you. Set boundaries and make sure people know not to overstep them,” advises Kartun.

This is especially relevant with “energy vampires”, like complainers. When you encounter “soul-suckers”, instead of wasting energy nodding in agreement, say, “I can’t talk right now, I’m eating/tired/busy.” You’ll feel lighter when you do.

Day 7: Be a giver

Being charitable packs potent emotional benefits. “Enjoyment, instant gratification, empowerment, inspiration – all of these sentiments are powerful emotional incentives,” write Daniel Oppenheimer and Christopher Olivola, authors of The science of Giving (Psychology Press).

Try matching your skills with others’ needs through websites like sister.org.za, charitysa.co.za or pets.org.za. Turning your compassion into action could light an nner fire you didn’t know you had.

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