Take control of your stress levels and live a healthier life.
We are working longer hours, sleeping less and dealing with increased pressure to make it to the top and have it all. However, our obsession with climbing the corporate ladder and portraying a picture-perfect life has left us exposed to a higher risk of mental and physical illness.
Stress is considered the “Silent Killer” by the United Nations International Labor Organisation and is often the root cause of, and brought about by, increasing workloads, expectations, competition and the struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Stress has an enormous, often overlooked, impact not only on our mental well-being, but also the physical health of our brains. When left unmanaged, it can influence our mood and behaviour and even impact our ability to learn and memorise information where pressure and emotions are running high. In fact, chronic stress has been linked to increased risk of dementia later in life.
For the reasons listed above, it is vital to take proactive steps to manage our levels of stress. Practice the 6 tips below to help you take better control of your stress levels and live a happier, healthier life.
- Socialise with Friends
Spending quality time with friends and family can help you relax and distract you from stress. Research has shown that socialisation helps us feel like we are cared for and belong. These feelings reduce anxiety and help boost key brain processes that reduce stress.
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps you to relax. Unfortunately, Singapore’s National Health Survey found 40% of Singaporeans do not even meet the minimum physical activity guidelines set for good health. This means we are severely underutilising one of the most effective methods for reducing stress.
As a starting place, Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week and muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week for overall good health.
- Sleep Consistently
Good sleep hygiene means developing habits that help you get a better-quality sleep on a consistent basis. On average, an adult should get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as a good night’s sleep helps you feel recharged and ready to face the challenges of a new day. Unfortunately, Singaporeans rank among the world’s lowest for average amount of sleep per night, with fewer than 1 in 5 getting 8 hours of sleep per night.
To help you achieve better sleep hygiene, The American Sleep Association recommends developing a relaxing and consistent sleep routine:
- Go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day, ideally +/- 20 minutes
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine in the afternoon
- Create a quiet, comfortable bedroom
- Avoid napping
- Don’t watch the clock, TV or read in bed… especially on your phone!
- Exercise regularly, but avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime
- Make Time for Yourself
Take time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself by setting time aside for hobbies and activities you love. This is especially important after periods of extreme or chronic stress. Naturally, when exposed to higher levels of stress for prolonged periods of time your ability to focus and concentrate decreases and it will take time before you feel reenergised.
- Practice Relaxation
Deep breathing and meditation are tools you can use to relax tense muscles and decrease your heart rate, as research has found that meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a calm mind. Feeling calm and well balanced can help improve your mental well-being, positive feelings that have been shown to remain long after the meditation session, and help you feel better able to confront stressful situations throughout the day. It is no surprise that many of the top CEOs in the world practice some type of meditation.
- Feed Your Brain
Your brain is your most important organ and is responsible for coordinating all bodily functions 24 hours a day. To do this properly it needs the right fuel to ensure it’s always functioning at its best.
The Singapore Health Promotion Board is an excellent source for information on nutrition and suggests adults get 5-7 servings of whole grains, 2 servings of fruits, 2 servings of vegetables, and 2-3 servings of meat and others (ex. protein, dairy) per day for a balanced diet that will help support optimal brain health.
If you’re crunched for time and often find it challenging to eat a healthy meal, health supplements are an excellent option to complement your regular diet. Consider investing in a quality supplement like EDGE™. The chief ingredients Ginseng, Centella Asiatica, Vitamin E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Selenium are all clinically proven to support healthy brain function, which can also help to alleviate stress.
ABOUT SHAWN WATSON, PhD, Neuroscientist
Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Dr. Shawn Watson is the Founder and CEO of Senescence Life Sciences, a cutting-edge biotechnology company based in Singapore whose mission is to research, develop and commercialise safe, effective and scientifically proven neuroprotective compounds that address age-related cognitive decline.
Dr. Watson holds a BSc in Biological Sciences, a PhD in Neurophysiology, is a published author, and regularly speaks to communities, organisations and health professionals about brain health. He was recently recognised as one of the Top 10 Influencers in Healthcare in Singapore under the age of 40 and Top 5 Entrepreneurial Achievers under the age of 35 at the 4th TransPacific Entrepreneurial Conference.