MagnaPass Guest Blog: Balancing Stress and a Healthy Lifestyle

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HEALTH. STRENGTH. POSITIVITY.

This is a guest post written for Magna Pass - read the original over on their site HERE!

We’ve all been there- life gets stressful and sadly, health is the first thing to be taken for granted. I find it funny that health is something that always goes unappreciated until it’s gone, and only when we have a wake-up call or diagnosis do we begin to become concerned about it. Health is a luxury, and we should treat it as one, but unfortunately we live in a world where money and success are prioritised above health and happiness.

People are full to the brim with excuses for why health is not a priority to them, to why they ‘needed’ that chocolate bar, to why their life is just too stressful to worry about their diet and fitness too. But what people fail to understand is that all of this goes hand in hand… feel stressed? Exercise. Feel sluggish? Eat nutritious food. Making your body happy on the inside goes a very long way in helping you feel the same on the outside. Your priorities are not what you say they are; they are revealed by the way in which you choose to live your life.

I spent so many years of my life trying to achieve things for other people’s happiness; living, reacting and responding to other people’s opinions. It took me a long time to learn that to prioritise your own happiness is not selfish; it is essential for a mentally healthy and fulfilling life… Yet how many of us actually take time to make ourselves a priority? Sometimes you have to take a step back to realise what’s important to you in life… sometimes it takes an awful event to spark a realisation that change is necessary… however it may be that you decide on what matters most to you, the thing to remember is that you and you alone are responsible for your own actions, and if I can maintain a healthy lifestyle through periods of immense stress and workload, you can too. Below I have compiled a little list of tips to implement when trying to juggle stress and health:

001. Plan – I cannot emphasise this one enough. I literally timetable every single waking hour of my life. It sounds incredibly sad (and it probably is), but it is honestly the only way I could get through each week without a full blown breakdown. I have a huge excel document with every day of the month down the left hand side, and every hour of the day across the top. I then fill in exactly how I will spend all my hours. Not only does this help you reach mini goals with coursework deadlines and writing blog posts, but you also feel amazingly calm if you manage to get ahead of schedule and there is nothing more satisfying than crossing off activities as they are completed. The most important thing to remember when doing this – plan time EVERY day for YOURSELF. Block out two hours for a gym session one day, or an hour for meal prep another day, or time for a bath or a walk or ANYTHING. And once it’s in your plan – it stays there – there are enough hours in your day to plan the rest of your life around it.

002. Do things for yourself – be it fitness or work related, working towards someone else’s goal is never going to be as rewarding as working towards something that you want to achieve for yourself. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do, but try and separate yourself from what other people want you to achieve, and focus on what you would be happy with personally. Goals you set for yourself can be as big or small as you wish, but you will never feel pride or a sense of accomplishment if you haven’t set out to realise these ambitions for your own benefit.

003. Be realistic – Whatever it is you are working towards completing; be it revision, coursework deadlines, fitness goals etc., these are usually long processes, and the start of the journey will always be the hardest. When you are a long way from reaching your ultimate aim it can be hard to stay on track and motivate yourself to keep moving in the right direction, especially when you feel you are no closer to achieving anything than when you started. Don’t assume that you can wake up one day and cram all the information into your head, or go on a 10k run after years of never working out… setting yourself these unrealistic targets will only lead to negativity when you fail to complete them. Instead, set realistic goals to be completed in a comfortable and attainable time frame, giving yourself rewards if you manage to achieve them ahead of schedule.

004. “Stress is not what happens to us, it is a response to what happens to us”…
…and response is something we can control. It’s not your workload that’s breaking you down, it’s the way you’ve chosen to carry it. Learning to adjust that load is what makes all the difference. Worrying about workload or deadlines or exams will not make them go away, but it will stop you from appreciating the good things. Therefore, set aside time every day to complete the tasks you need to complete, but also schedule in down time, social time, relaxation time!

Remember: “there is no such thing as a perfect balance. But what balance is.. is constantly making little tweaks to stay in a healthy place”.