Lifestyle hacks for men

10 August 2023

Lifestyle hacks for men

Join Clarissa Lenherr from the Stretching the City team as she shares quick and effective lifestyle hacks for men to manage stress and boost productivity.

Video transcript

Hi there. My name is Clarissa Lenherr, registered nutritionist and part of the Stretching the City team.

And I'm thrilled to be here today talking to you all about quick and effective lifestyle hacks for managing stress and boosting productivity, specifically tailored for men.

And the first place I want to start with is talking about sleep.


Now, we all know that sleep is wonderful for our health. It plays a role in pretty much every aspect of our health, including productivity and stress resilience.

It's recommended that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep, but it's not just about the quantity, it's about the quality of sleep. We want to make sure that we're getting deep modes of restorative sleep for our body to restore and recalibrate and reset, and also making sure we're getting enough REM sleep, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement, which is where we dream, but also really important for creativity and emotional processing.

So it's really going be an important part of your sleep for supporting stress resilience, and also for productivity.

The National Sleep Foundation actually suggests that men are more likely to experience sleep disturbances related to breathing problems such as snoring, sleep apnea, due to factors such as being overweight, inactive, alcohol use, and aging.

So although sleep recommendations are applicable to every gender, maybe listen up a little bit more if you are having trouble with sleeping today.

So what are some of the things we can do to optimise our sleep?

Limit blue light exposure

First up, reduce your blue light exposure.

Blue lights are emitted from all of our technology. However, we are not designed to have these blue lights at night. In the daytime, it's okay because as human beings, we're designed to have blue light in the sky. However, at night time, we're designed to have darkness and more kind of orange pinky hues. So trying to avoid technology that has blue lights on them at night can be really helpful with getting that quality of sleep.

If you have to use technology late at night, working late at night, that's totally fine. Go and download some blue light blocking apps on your laptops on your phone. You can wear blue light blocking glasses, which you can now buy very easily. And if you wear a prescription, you can actually get the blue light filters added into them.

My second sleep hack would be thinking about caffeine. Caffeine promotes the secretion of our stress hormone cortisol, which can actually interfere with the production of our sleep hormone melatonin. Now, that's not to say you can't have a coffee or two in the day, but with caffeine, it's really important to make sure you're not having it late in the day.

Now remember that caffeine isn't just in coffee, it's in black tea, green tea, matcha, you know, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, etc. So also make sure where it's hidden and because it might be sneaking into your diet late in the night and affecting your quality of sleep.

Morning light

Next up, we have getting light first thing in the morning. This is actually quite linked to sleep because we have our circadian rhythm, which governs our wake and our sleep cycles. And this is really governed by lightness and darkness. Like I mentioned about the blue lights and the kind of red hues.

So in the morning, we're supposed to get light in our eyes to stimulate energy and the darkness in the evening to help us relax and sleep. Now, if you are not getting that light in the morning, you're missing that crucial part of producing energy, which can help with stress, resilience, productivity, energy levels so much more. So my top piece of advice would be as close as possible to when you wake up, get outside into natural light, get that light into your eyes for just 10 minutes a day and go for a walk around the block.

You can have your coffee on a terrace or a garden if you're lucky enough to have one. If you, you know, if it's winter, if you've commuted in the dark, try and get out in your lunch break.

But getting that natural light in your eyes is a free natural stress reducer, mood booster, energy booster. And as humans, we are designed to have that light. So, it's a pretty good thing to be thinking about.


Then we have exercise, which, if you're getting out and go for a little walk around the block, you're getting in some steps. But you know, we all know that exercise is wonderful and fantastic for us.

Both men and women are required to exercise regularly to support general health. And the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, such as say, a nice bike ride or a fast-paced walk, or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week, such as, going for a run or spinning or boxing, playing a sport.

But what I want to say about effective lifestyle hacks on managing stress is that if you're going to the gym every day, you are really putting a lot of stress in your body. So you're doing a lot of high intensity exercise. This actually might be detrimental to your stress levels and even your productivity might make you too fatigued. So it's not about kind of hitting it really, really hard. It's about kind of getting a balance of a little bit of high intensity exercise, more moderate movement. And don't forget slow movement. So things like yoga, pilates, tai chi, stretching and foam rolling, things like that.

These are all actually great ways to calm your nervous system and to calm your stress response.

Mindfulness and meditation

Now, the next tip I'm going to recommend about, especially about boosting and managing your stress levels and boosting productivity is all about mindfulness and meditation. Now, I think a lot of people are scared that meditation has to be umming and ahing in a room for an hour, and it totally doesn't have to be. Meditation can be as simple as just kind of five, 10 minutes, a couple times a week to really reap the rewards. But, the WHO does suggest that men have had a higher prevalence of mental health issues and that men can be more prone to bottling up emotions or feeling, stress and pressure from expectations. So mindfulness and relaxation practices can actually help with emotional awareness, can reduce stress, help promote productivity.

So I know it might seem like it's a big commitment, but it really isn't. So just start with one or two practices a week. You can use apps now that give you mindful classes. Five, 10 minute little kind of classes. Maybe you can listen to it on your commute on the way to work, but it is a really, really great tool.

And circling back to sleep, if you're not sleeping well, actually incorporating a bit of meditation or mindfulness can actually help calm you if you've got a bit of a wired mind before bed.

Deep breathing

One of the principles of meditation and mindfulness and actually slow movement too, one of the activities involved in that is deep breathing. We're all designed as human beings to breathe, so we have to do it to survive. But deep breathing is actually when we expand. We expand the diaphragm in our lungs, we expand our stomachs, and deep breathing can take us from a fight or flight, which is when we're in our stress state to rest and digest, which is the opposite state when we're ready to be calm and relaxed.

So doing just a few deep breaths when we're feeling really stressed can actually help with stress, resilience, and reduced stress. And it may even help with productivity boosting your mood. So it's a really, really good one to introduce.

Often I will recommend a 3, 4, 5 breathing practice. Which is simply deep breathing in through the nose for three seconds, holding for four seconds, breathing out through the mouth for five seconds. And you can do that a couple of times and it really can work wonders for getting you relaxed and supporting stress, resilience and stress levels.


Next up, prioritising self-care. Men are notorious for not prioritising themselves, for not investing in enough self-care.

Men are said to be less likely to seek support, to seek therapies for just talking about how they feel.

And I totally understand that, that sometimes, people may not want to talk about how they feel, but investing in some self-care and looking after yourself is one of the best ways that you can reduce your stress levels and, prioritise yourself.

And again, it doesn't have to be a huge commitment. It can either be just five minutes a day of a meditation practice. It might be a couple of times a week having a nice warm bath. It may be just on the weekends you're gonna do something creative like DIY or gardening. But putting yourself first and doing something for you that's, not stressful, that's maybe a habit, something that's going to make you feel fulfilled, upbeat, kind of fill your cup.

But that is a really, really important one that most people will put themselves at the bottom of the priority list. But a bit of self-care is very, very nice.

Take breaks

Taking breaks is a big one too.

I think there's this whole mentality about working really, really hard and not taking lunch breaks and not taking breaks, but actually it's been shown that short, regular breaks can actually restore and improve attention and focus, creativity, concentration. So take a little bit of a break.

I normally recommend every 45 minutes, 50 minutes, get up, do a bit of a shoulder roll, go and walk and make a cup of tea, a herbal tea, or, you know, go for a walk around the block.

Because also if you're sitting down a lot, it's gonna actually put a lot of pressure on you physically as well. So get up, take a little bit of a breather and maybe go outside, get some natural light for a bit of an energy boost.

But taking breaks can be a great refresher for supporting productivity.

Get out into nature

And my final top piece of information and takeaways for you would be to get out into nature.

Studies have actually shown that regular nature exposure can reduce the circulation of our stress hormones. And if you're not able to get out nature, it's also been shown that having plants and greenery around you can be just as helpful.

So a great tip would be to go for a walk in the morning, to get natural light in your eyes, get a little bit of exercise, go and get to the park, and get a little bit of nature exposure. Maybe do some kind of meditations in some headphones as an example. But that can be a great way to actually do a lot of the things that I've said today to support your stress, resilience and boost your productivity.


So to summarise. Managing stress and boosting productivity does require a holistic approach. But you don't need to do everything I've said today. Pick one or two things that really resonate with you that you feel would fit into your lifestyle and that would make a big difference. And remember that these small changes, these small incremental changes can lead to much bigger overall significant feelings of improved mood and boosted productivity and stress resilience than feeling like you have to do everything I've said and then, not being able to do it, and feeling worse off.

So I hope you've managed to take one or two things away from today's video, and a huge thank you for listening today and take care.