You don’t have to look very far to find research that supports that stress leads to serious health problems on down the line – blocked arteries, heart attacks, strokes and even mental health issues. Reality says that there is no way you can avoid stress, so let’s manage it.
Stress and Exercise – Get Moving!
Exercise increases stamina, helps you keep your weight under control, lowers blood pressure and the physical signs of stress like skin problems and wrinkles.
You might be thinking that there is no way you have time during the day to exercise. I bet you could find time if you try something listed below.
- When at work, get up and walk around and/or stretch for two-three minutes every hour.
- Designate time to work out for a few minutes at least 4 times per week.
- Try to get outside for exercise as often as you can. Healthy minimal sun exposure – with appropriate sunscreen naturally increases your body’s levels of Vitamin D.
Stress and Sleep
Good sleep habits are a key to stress management. Sleep deprivation shortens your reaction times in critical situations and increases the effects that stressors have on your normal behavior. Your goal should be to get 6 – 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Refrain from alcohol and caffeine before going to bed.
- Keep your bedroom cooler.
- Don’t underestimate the value that a power nap can have. They’re not just for the kids! Even 15 minutes during the day can increase your productivity.
- A relaxing bath with lavender or vanilla scent prepares you for sleep.
- Writing in a journal before bedtime can get nagging thoughts out of your head before trying to sleep.
Stress and Nutrition
You need to take a “whole body” approach to stress management and that includes what goes into your body. Eating the right foods feeds your brain and that’s where stress management begins
- Do an inventory of your snack cache’ – Replace the sugary cookies and candy with better options like whole-grain crackers, cut up veggies and low-fat cheese. Put them in pre-portioned snack bags and keep some at work.
- Eat balanced meals…especially breakfast
- Keep a water bottle filled and carry it with you.
- Plan your menus and shop intelligently. Go to the store with a list – it avoids overspending.
- Here are some foods that have been found to aid in stress relief: Green tea and Ginger tea, raw almonds, fatty fish such as tuna, whole grain cereals, blueberries, cottage cheese, lean beef and asparagus.
- Control caffeine intake. Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up your morning Java! Just recognize that too much caffeine can make you feel anxious and might cause irritability.
Stress and Relaxation
Relaxing is not the same thing as getting enough sleep or taking a nap. It’s when you deliberately calm your mind and body. Deep relaxation results in your body releasing chemicals that neutralize stress. Every yoga class traditionally ends in a period of total relaxation called Shavasana. The whole idea is to find the quiet stillness that is within us all. Just 15 minutes a day will help and you don’t need yoga props.
- Find your 15 minutes and turn off your phone!
- Lie down on your back on a padded surface, make sure you are warm enough and put a pillow under your knees if you need support for your back. Place your hands by your sides, palms up.
- Cover yourself with a blanket and put an eye pillow or soft cloth over your eyes if you want.
- Now simply allow your breath to come in and out and be aware of it as it does. As you relax, your breath will begin to slow.
- Count backwards from 10 for 10 breaths and with every exhalation; feel that you are entering an ever deeper range of comfort and well-being.
- Now just let your breath continue in a very natural and soft manner for the rest of the 15 minutes.
To conclude the stress series, in two weeks you’ll learn how to create a personal stress management plan. When we’re all done, you’ll be better at solving problems, enjoying your kids, and being more effective at work. What a great way to start the New Year.
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- Article written by Elaine Dumler and reprinted from her newsletter with permission. For military family books and information on briefings, visit www.ImAlreadyHome.com or email Elaine@ImAlreadyHome.com
This is the start of Elaine’s new project that brings you 25 exclusive, permission based articles for your own newsletters. Sign up for this free series at www.ImAlreadyHome.com. When you reprint any article, remember to include the permission statement following the article. Enjoy!
Note: If you’re interested in a FREE webinar about Stress Management conducted by Scott “Q” Marcus, follow this link