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Today's Podcast Episode

Hi, welcome to this latest podcast episode and thank you so much for being here. It's never lost on me that you decided to tune in to me and I am so grateful. And so thank you to you dear listener today. I want to talk to you about something very close to my heart, which is called stress, which used to take up all of my, my life.

Even all the way back to school when I was in fourth year, fifth or sixth year, I had a nickname amongst my friends. Stress head and stress has been with me all my life up until a few years ago, I am so thankful and grateful to be able to tell you now that I genuinely have reduced stress, so, so much that I find joy and happiness and gratitude and love and living in the moment in my life.

Now on levels that I've never ever experienced, however, I did spend 20 plus years feeling extremely stressed out. So I think I understand um a little bit about it and I'm able to share with you some strategies and tips that have worked for me that might be able to help you too. The reason I want to talk to you about this today is because there's no point me chatting to you about exercise and healthy habits.

If there's such a big mad obstacle in the way for some of you, which is stress, stress can be the biggest obstacle you face in terms of you being fit and healthy. I mean, if you think like you're looking straight ahead on a road and you see yourself in the distant future and you just want so badly for that person to be fit and healthy. However, there's this like mad huge massive boulder in front of you and there's no way to the left or right of it that stress like for, for those of you that understand stress so well, like stress on a very like extreme level, you freeze when you're stressed out and it makes you want to do absolutely nothing.

So, talking about working out three times a week to reduce stress is all well and good. But if you're actually that stressed out, if your body and your mind have gotten used to you feeling stressed out, you're going to find that really challenging. So think of this episode like an episode where I want to fix the, the, the, the get, give you a solution before the solution of exercise.

A lot of stressed out people myself in the past included, um manage their stress through bad habits. So a lot of people that are stressed out will, um, will overeat will comfort eat, will have big portion sizes, will rely on dinner a lot and having big meals, um will feel a sense that they are just dying for the weekend. Um Food will be a bit, a lot of people, food is a big part of their life. When they're stressed out, alcohol can play a big part when you're stressed out.

For some people, it's that they don't want to go to bed because the going to bed means they have to get up and do it all over again. So what you'll find with a lot of stressed out women is that they'll do all the stuff that they have to do and they're not settling until around nine, half nine or if they've got older Children even later. And they're wanting so badly a little bit of relief at night time. So they'll stay up later.

They might have a bit of food. They're dreading the next day. So, the knock on effect then is that they are getting up absolutely wrecked because they're going to bed late. You're doing it all again. Your morning routine is shocking. I mean, I'm just describing myself a few years ago.

Stress has such a bad impact on, on your health and it is so difficult to lose weight and get fit and healthy. If you don't first address your stress levels, stress can just lead you to having crap relationships not being able to settle. When you're trying to read a book, you don't want a journal, you don't want to sit in silence. You just want to tell everybody to fuck off. You just want to work and get the stuff done. Life can feel so unpleasant.

So I want to talk to you about stress reduction methods that will actually help you feel more calm and more relaxed so that you can actually go forth and conquer the other healthy habits that you might want to be. But first of all, it all starts with managing this stress. So if you're listening in now, I want to ask you first of all, what would help you feel more relaxed and less stressed? That's actually possible to do. So grab a pen and paper, it's going to be different for everybody.

One tip is to organize your morning. Well, and, and just start there for some of you listening in. Now. You'll be like, yeah, that's it. Exactly. I need to sort my morning out that will reduce stress. So, sorting out your morning might be something like getting organised the night before, which is what I do with absolutely everything. Even down to the breakfast bowls I have on the table with the spoons sticking out of them, their cups ready to go. Their lunch boxes are out. They're not made. I do that in the morning time. Their school bags are out. My gym bag is all organised. 

I know exactly what I have to do in work the next day. I always, always email myself and write it out what I have to do the next day. If I don't do that, I don't have, uh, as productive a day as I could in work because I am too stressed out because I'm not sure what to do. And I don't like having to figure out what to do while I'm in work because there's too much pressure anyway. So I like to always have it the day before. So, starting off with a morning routine is really, really important and it doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as getting up 15 minutes before you have to, having a cup of coffee. Centering yourself.

You don't have to do any meditation or anything like that you might just simply walk out to the back garden and have your cup of coffee there, but center yourself, center yourself if you can. And good morning routine starts with the night before being organized. And that's one way in which you can reduce your stress. Tip number two is to organize your bed routine.

Now, I really do understand how difficult this is when you're stressed out because when you're stressed out, the night time means everything, those Netflix episodes mean everything when you're going through periods of stress. So if you like me adore that time of night, I encourage you to do what you can to try and get that part of the night started as early as possible.

And I've noticed now it's, it's creeping up later and later in our houses, our kids get older and they're up later. However, there are things that you can do, um, to start earlier. So making sure that you have everything you need to get done as early as you can in the evening time. So even if you have kids and they're up later, you have all your stuff done. So they might be wrecking your head while you're watching TV.

But at least you'll have your stuff done. So trying to get your stuff done and dusted, um, as early as you can in the night time can help if your kids are absolutely wrecking your head and you need a bit of space or you and your husband need a bit of space. I don't see anything wrong in asking them to have a movie night, one night a week in another room.

And you too, being able to relax on the couch and just chill out. Or if that doesn't suit you, let them have the living room and you to head off to another room and have a cup of tea and a chat. So important to get away from the kids and if your kids are staying up later and later, it is so important for you to have a bit of down time, doesn't have to be anything major. You and your partner or whoever it is, can just sit outside in the back garden for five for half an hour and have a chat.

What me and Joe do sometimes is actually that's exactly what we do and the odd time we let the kids watch a movie on their own in another room and you know what we need. It, it helps so much. So I'm asking you this now, like, what can you do to claw back a bit more of your night time so that you can get to bed at around half 10, 11, getting to bed at around half 10 and turning your phone on airplane mode when you get into bed and then reading a minimum of five pages of a fiction book.

Honest to God, it's a game changer. It's just a game changer because if it takes you a while to settle, it means that if you're going to bed at half 10 and reading a book, you're probably more than likely going to switch the light off at around 11 quarter past 11, which means you're ideally going to be asleep before midnight.

But if you go to bed anytime after 11, the chances of you being asleep before midnight just get a little bit trickier, maybe half 11. So do what you can to just push everything forward if possible, a little bit more in your night time to claw back as much down time as possible. For me, it's not about getting rid of the down time or like not watching TV. At night. I love to do that. I'm definitely going to do that.

I don't watch TV, obviously during the day at all. So that night time to me where I can wind down is precious. So what can you do to claw back your precious time? My next tip is to do some form of the thrive time I do with my clients which is 10 minutes at every day, sitting in silence or doing affirmations or doing journaling something that is just for you that isn't meditation or, or other things like that, that it's actually you are taking action with your mental health.

It might be that you say an affirmation six times and then you write in your journal your intentions for the day or it might be that you do some breath work something movie I find when you are stressed out, very stressed out, it can be very difficult to go from very stressed out to sitting in silence or doing a meditation on youtube. I find what worked for me. Anyway, is kind of this like middle ground where you can action. You feel like you're moving, you feel like you're taking action where you journal or you do breath work or you um do affirmations.

So something that requires you to do something I find can be that nice little bridge between super stressed out and meditating. And then when you feel a little bit more calm, when you have organised and structured your day every day through journaling and you've organised your bedtime, you've organised your morning, then you might want to decide to get into sitting in silence for 10 minutes and visualising, which leads me on to my next tip, which is what's working really well for me at the minute um is rather than sit in meditation and like just focus on your breathing, giving your meditation or your 10 minutes of silence a focus um where you visualise who you want to become or you visualise yourself having achieved a goal being successful. 

There's this guy that I follow, Doctor Joe Dispenza, I'm sure you've heard of him who is blowing my mind at the moment. It's just so reaffirming to hear somebody talk that about how much you can change the, the wiring of your brain. And just 10 minutes of focusing on visualization of your, of your future self, having achieved your goal over time will bring you to that place. It's very powerful stuff. And if you, if you can, if you can somehow figure out how to get that 10 minutes into your day, every day deadly. If you don't do some journaling, do some affirmations, do some breath work, that would be absolutely terrific.

How else can you reduce stress? What else can you do? Things that have worked for me are reflecting on my day every day, writing out what I need to do and sticking to that plan, I find with stressed out people, we can tend to jump from one thing to the next with a lack of focus because we're stressed out. So the power of writing out your intentions for the day ahead and also sending yourself an email for the day the next day. So that when you go into work, the first email that you're going to open is an email from yourself. Telling you what you have to do today is really relaxing and really grounding.

So you organise your day, you organise your night time, you organise your morning time, um having something visual like a calendar. I find really helpful and very relaxing having on that calendar or on a vision board or on any board in your house action steps that you want to follow every day that are going to help you feel more relaxed. My action steps, I have them here are walk water, read meditate journal. So they are the five things that keep me grounded. Um, every day. I don't have work out there because I do the workouts automatically with my clients four days a week anyway.

I didn't really see the need to put it on as a, as a daily action step that I need to follow because I just do that automatically. And my weekly action steps to keep me relaxed and to reduce stress are that I do as much as I can to see swim twice a week. Um And uh and that's it. And it's like you have this board of action steps that are your grounding, reduced stress action steps.

And what I love about having a visual board is when you start to slip back into stressy habits. And for a lot of us that are that used to be stressed out or feel stressed out. We drop our habits when we feel stressed out. So having it as a powerful reminder somewhere where you can see those habits, the second you start to drop them and you start to slip, you know, you know, straight away you're slipping. Whereas sometimes when we feel so stressed out, we don't even notice we're slipping because it's too late. So I definitely think having a powerful reminder is really, really good.

So other ways to reduce your stress, um before we get on to like exercise and the healthy habits. So the step before that is looking at your unhealthy habits, if you're drinking too much alcohol at the moment, you know that you're going to have a lot of nervous energy in your system. Like your physiology and your tension is just going to feel horrible. Alcohol really exacerbates the problem of stress and anxiety. I'm not going to tell you to give up alcohol.

However, just the glass of wine at the night time during the week can be really bad for you in terms of your stress. And if there was somehow any way you could decide to maybe keep it to the weekend, I really think you would be doing yourself such a terrific favor and you'd have such a quick win, 1 to 2 drinks in the night for somebody very stressed out is not good. Um, it sounds tiny, but I promise you if you were to give up alcohol during the week, you would notice a difference in your stress levels. I just want to say to you now that if you do decide to stop drinking during the week, you're probably going to go for a week of hell where you're not going to sleep.

Well, you're probably going to feel sweaty and this is even just after one glass at night time. It can make you feel really horrible in yourself and can almost feel like you're back tracking. But that's just your body like getting rid of the alcohol and you're probably not, your body's not used to not having alcohol during the week. Um So I definitely recommend you look there. Also night time eating can make us feel very out of control and stressed out. So I encourage you to just ask yourself, first of all, just get into the notice noticing phase where you're, you're aware that the night time eating is making you feel very out of control. And when we feel very out of control, we can feel very stressed out. 

And when we feel in control, we feel more calm. So what I'm really asking you is what unhealthy habits do you have in your life that are making you feel out of control? And if late night eating is making you feel out of control, what can you do to work towards stopping it for some people? There's really only two ways you can do it. You, you either come up with an empowering alternative to the late night eating or you have leverage to change. So you find yourself so sick of it that you can change.

I use leverage in the past to give up my unhealthy habits of uh drinking alcohol and overeating. And I did that through, um, Jesus through a lot of things in another podcast episode. But I showed myself how bad it was repetitively over time um through videoing myself and writing notes to myself and different things like that. Um I got so sick of it that I was able to give it up for some people.

They find the empowering alternative way better. For example, instead of late night eating in the couch, I'll go for a walk, I'll brush my teeth, have a peppermint tea and read my book. However, uh when you, I find when you have an empowering alternative to do instead on the nights that you're not in the mood to do the empowering alternative or it's lashing rain and you don't get your walk in. What are you going to do then? So that's why I much prefer the, the journey of making yourself so sick of your unhealthy habit that you genuinely want to stop.

So I ask you now, how could you make yourself sick and tired of your unhealthy habit? Maybe for you, it's riding out all the ways, it's wrecking your life and holding you back from inner peace and contentment and happiness and feeling good. So figuring out how to take the first step towards getting rid of unhealthy habits are going to really help you reduce stress.

My next tip is to set boundaries with your family with work life. Where in your life do you need to set boundaries? Stressed out. People generally speaking, don't have enough boundaries in their life they'll answer the phone whenever it rings, they'll get a notification on their phone, they'll answer straight away. They know all their emails that are coming in the whole time. They'll check emails at work. They'll drop workouts to do, do something for somebody else or just drop the workouts for because they got an email from work that stressed them out, but stressed out people tend to have no boundaries in their life.

So again, I ask you, where could you put boundaries in your life? This is coming from the most boundary, less person you may have ever met in your whole life up until a year ago when I got help with it. And now I'm extremely bounded up, extremely boundary up and I'm very careful about all this sort of stuff. Now, it changed my life and I hope it changes yours too. If you feel very stressed out and anxious and you don't have boundaries up, where do you need to boundary them? It is difficult at the start.

Boundering your phone is difficult, deleting whatsapp is difficult, not checking messages, turning off all notifications, putting all your whatsapp groups on silent, getting rid of whatsapp groups, um Getting off whatsapp, I find whatsapp. So anxiety inducing. Um What else can you do if your phone rings or certain people ring? You don't have to answer straight away. You're not being rude, you're busy. Do work boundaries need to go up, do emails, stress, you out if you get an email from somebody um in work that you find a bit stressful, do you need to then say to yourself?

Ok, emails, stress me out rather than me try and not get stressed out by emails. Why don't I just say to myself emails stress me out. Therefore, I check my emails between this time and this time because that way, like we only have so many hours in the day, like we don't have to go around fixing every single thing. Oh, well, why don't you just reduce the stress and not be so worried about emails or why don't you just not check emails in that time? Um So setting up boundaries is really, really important for yourself. And I know if you're listening in now and you're a woman over 40 the chances are things do get dropped in place of other people or things like you might clean the house instead of doing a workout or tidy up your emails instead of um going for a nice walk, putting yourself first is really important to reducing stress, prioritising self-care. 

I know you've probably heard this 1000 times already. However, prioritising self care is really important and having it as a non negotiable in your life is so important when you have these things as non-negotiables in your life, you're going to be more inclined to do it. You need to think of your non negotiable selfcare habits like home work like work. And if you want to reframe it in your mind so that you are more motivated. If you're an absolute workaholic, say to yourself, this is what I say to myself for some of my self care habits, I'm doing it because I'll be better at work.

I'm doing it because I'll be a better coach, a better leader, a better wife, better kids say that if that makes you feel better or if that drives you sometimes for some people, it's like Oprah prioritise self care because you need to put yourself to the top of the list. I find that really demotivating. I don't really get a buzz out of thinking of putting myself top of the list. It's never really drawn me in. But if I say to myself, I'll be even better at work.

I'll be a really great coach. If I prioritise my self care that motivates me. So figure out what motivates you to go and do your self care and go and do your bleeding self care. Um What else? Time management really important be on time, really avoid being late. I find that can really set your day off. Very bad. Um Being late can such a it can really be a what's the word? I can't think of the word but like it stress has such a domino effect because you're stressed out because you're rushing around doing loads of things and trying to fit all lots of stuff into a short amount of time.

You can end up being late for things and I don't even mean people and meetings. I just mean even the order of the day, like I mentioned earlier on about like your night time dragging out like the time that you, that you're sitting down and watching something on Netflix becomes later and later or your morning times are a bit messy. So really working on time management is really, really critical to reduce stress. Um I hope you found this helpful, I promise you if you're struggling to become fit and healthy. Um and it's not working for you that you're always finding that there's barriers that there's obstacles, then ask yourself, well, what's the step before you start working out that you need to focus on?

And for a lot of women, for a lot of you, it's stress management and reducing your stress. And once you start to organize your days and your week in a way in which reduces stress for you, you're going to be then able to take the next step of exercising, eating healthy and prioritizing your self care. So, a gentle reminder to you, if you struggle to do something, take a step back and, and work on that step and you might find it might be the petrol that ignites things for you and you'll just absolutely fly it.

I hope you enjoyed this episode and you got lots out of it. If you could do me a big favor and maybe review it or share it with a friend. I would appreciate it so much. I'm so looking forward to the next time already. All my love. Thanks for being here and take care. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode and you must let me know by getting in touch. 

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About the author 

Jessica Cooke

I love drinking coffee, and my favourite thing in life (apart from my family) is to help women to get fit and break free from unhealthy habits holding them back. (oh, and also I love playing with my two Miniature Schnauzers, Buster and Ozzy)

I’ve now supported over 6,779 women over 14 years in my Thrive Coaching Program get fit and break free from unhealthy habits!