Bust the Stress – Take Back Control

"Stress is not what happens to us. It's our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose." Maureen Killoran.

With today’s competitive, professional climate, it’s easy to find yourself up to your ears when it comes to the to-do list.

That relative you’ve been meaning to call for the past week, an overflowing inbox and countless household chores left undone - there’s no end to reasons why we’re feeling stressed both inside and outside of work!

But it doesn’t have to be this way - countless amounts of studies have shown that exercise and staying healthy can reduce stress and make you feel more relaxed, energized and focused as you power through your working day.

It’s easy to put off being healthy and exercising when you’ve simply not got time, but this is your wakeup call – it’s time to make time people!

Any physical activity will leave you feeling more serene, productive and positive throughout the day, as this pumps endorphins (the feel-good stuff) in your brain. More energy – less lethargy. A good workout is also shown to improve your sleep, increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Follow this up with a healthy and balanced diet, plenty of water and time to relax and I’m pretty sure you’ll be making the hours count not counting the hours.

Here are 5 straightforward ways to stay healthy, active and fit during the working day while keeping on top of that jam-packed schedule.

1 - Stay Hydrated

I understand that this one’s a no-brainer, but studies show that up to 89% of the UK population isn’t drinking enough of the wet stuff.

Being dehydrated by just a pint of water increases levels of cortisol, your stress hormone which pumps up the stress levels in the brain. More stress is not what we need in our lives so drink 2-3 litres everyday to give your brain and body a break.

Getting up from your desk has countless health benefits too (which I’ll go into later), so why not make it a habit to fill up your bottle 4-5 times through the day and slurp throughout? More water means more toilet breaks also: win-win!

2 - Prepare Your Meals

The increase of your stress hormone cortisol is also proven to increase appetite.

It’s easy to grab the quick fix when you’re struggling to get the work done but these options contain higher levels of poor nutrients, higher fat content and more additives and preservatives.

Pre-preparing meals can feel like it’s a Sunday of work, but simple recipes, such as a sweet potato, spinach and chicken breast dish, will keep you energized and satisfied for longer, and you’ll feel much better during the day and when you get on the scales.

3 - Keep Active

When it’s a busy day and you’re focused on getting things done, it’s easy to stay chained to your office chair as the hours fly by.

But spending long hours sitting down on the commute and at the desk is proven to play a significant role in the development of chronic disease. Even if you’re just thinking in the short-term, staying put for 8 hours is a recipe for disaster when you’re hitting the gym at 6pm.

And being active once an hour is simple - getting the tea round in, filling that water bottle and speaking face-to-face with colleagues will do the trick.

Did you realise that being active before and after work such as going for a run or hitting the gym means nothing if you stay sat at your desk for more than 5 hours a day? Sitting for extended periods negates anything you do before or after in terms of the damage done while at work!

4 - Train in Less Time

I’m on side with you here - a 90-minute workout can seem like quite the tax on your time when there’s not enough hours in the day however we know fitting exercise into the schedule will make you more productive throughout the day.

Here’s where I’d recommend interval training. Don’t let the daunting term raise hairs - interval training isn’t just for experienced athletes, as you can start off small and increase the session as you get fitter.

I’d recommend starting by doing a high-intensity exercise (sprinting, cycling or rowing) for a minute and doing the same exercise easy for the next minute. Repeat the exercise for 5-10 rounds (10-20 minutes). Start with 3 times a week and look to increase to 20-30 minutes 5 days a week.

The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to repeat the exercise and the harder you will work in your work minutes. You’ll also find that you need to rest less as you go on so play with the work rest balance! You’ll soon be able to burn calories like you’re Jordan Belfort with a wad of bills!

5 - Squats

Now I know this can seem like a buzzword that conjures up a picture of a powerlifter with a monumental barbell above their neck, but squatting is great bang for your buck - whatever the weight you’re holding.

The truth is, the more muscular strength you have, the more calories you burn, and experts recommend strength-training exercises that work multiple muscle groups.

Squats work all the lower leg muscles as well as your core and building these into your work day will have you feeling tough in no time.

But it’s easy to do yourself some trouble without concentrating on form - stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, point your toes slightly out, arms folded across your chest, pick a spot to look at straight ahead at and squat until your bum touches your chair. Make sure you breathe in on the way down. As soon as you feel contact between your bum and your chair, breathe out as your stand up. Do as many controlled repetitions as you can for 1 minute and repeat once per hour.

A habit is proven to form after just eight weeks of practice. Shift a few of these tips into your day, and you’ll find you work better, feel better and sleep better.

I hope this has been useful? Until next time....

Rob, Norwich’s Sport Performance Guy

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