Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stress Management

All of the healthy eating and exercise in the world won't help if you're miserable and stressed out. It has only been since 1956 that we have used the word stress to mean something affecting our bodies and feelings (you can thank Hans Hugo Bruno Selye). Stress is a very common response when you ask a person how they're doing... "I'm under a lot of stress" or "I'm stressed out."

People experience stress in different ways. Some feel flushed or hot, some feel nervous or fluttery, some feel tired and worn out. Regardless of your "experience" of stress it may be helpful to think of the experiences simply as messages from your body. Our body only has some many ways to communicate with us and the sensation of "stress" is often your body's way of getting your attention. In times of stress, your body wants you to make it stop and it will keep sending you messages until you get the message and intervene.

Stress Interventions

You have many choices to address stress and, since there is no one size fits all approach for everyone, we suggest you test a few see what works best for you. Here are some ideas:
  • Deep Breathing - Often we can feel much better immediately if we take a few moments, get our bodies still and take three deep breaths.
  • Nature - Getting outside and into nature is also a great way to take a stress break. Even a 10 minute walk can help separate you from your stressors and give you a new more calm perspective.
  • Cardio - Getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping can help you reconnect with your body and alleviate the stress sensation.
  • Meditation - A bit more involved than deep breathing, meditation is a great way to turn your thoughts onto yourself and get centered and grounded (See our Relax Breath meditation)
  • Yoga - Even a few simple poses, like legs up the wall, are a great stress intervention
  • Friends - Sometimes we feel better by just having a few moments to vent. Call a friend and tell them, "I need to vent. Will you listen to me for a few minutes without trying to fix my problem?" Getting it out into words helps and having someone truly listen helps even more.
  • Music - Turn on your favorite song and sing along, even if you have to sing silently to yourself.
  • Dance - More of your favorite music and get up and dance as boldly as you dare.
  • Hot Tea - Hot tea can be a very soothing experience so brew a cup and sip slowly.
You may have other great ideas, too. The idea is for you to recognize stress as a message from your body and take a few minutes and implement the stress intervention that works best for you.

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