Tips for Managing Stress
BREATHE: Check in throughout the day to see how you are breathing. Are you taking slow and deep breaths? Are you inhaling through the nose? This is a good opportunity to see if you are sitting or standing with a straight back and relaxed shoulders. Avoiding a slumped posture and shallow breathing can help keep your stress level down by increasing your energy level and oxygen flow your body needs.
PRIORITZE: Making a list of things you want to complete and prioritizing them can help avoid feeling overwhelmed. Focus on what needs to get done first and complete that task so you feel a sense of accomplishment and can “check it off”‘ on your list.
EXERCISE: Not only does exercising give you a boost of energy, it also releases the ‘good mood’ chemicals in your brain. It’s a great de-stressor and can actually reduce pain. To be heart healthy, 30 minutes of activity five days a week is recommended for aerobic activity. Examples of aerobic workouts are: walking, cycling, dancing, swimming or anything that raises your heart rate for at least 20 minutes. Start out taking baby steps and gradually build up your duration.
SLEEP: Getting restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Feeling rested within 30 minutes of waking up can set the tone for the rest of the day with your mood, energy, and stress level. Practice good sleep hygiene, like going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day, exercising during the day, being in a quiet, comfortable and dark room free of distractions and work, and avoiding caffeine, sugar and alcohol since they can disrupt your sleep.
CHOOSE YOUR FOOD AND DRINKS WISELY: Eating nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and protein-based foods like nuts, yogurt and fish can boost your energy levels and mood. Avoid foods that are high in refined sugar like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and candy as they can affect your energy level and they don’t have essential nutrients. Also, avoid excessive alcohol as it can be dehydrating and is a depressant, which can affect your mood and stress level.
MAKE TIME TO PLAY: Give yourself time to have fun, to laugh, and to have “me” time. Creating a work/play balance is essential for maintaining emotional health, and reduces feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated or even resentful. Making play time a priority in your schedule will improve your focus, productivity and feelings of relaxation.
We are always going to have stress in our lives. What’s important is how we react to stress and how we can manage and reduce our stress levels throughout the day. Making healthy choices like those listed above can make a big difference in how you feel and in improving your overall health.
Cindy Goulding, our motivational coach, is a licensed professional counselor, as well as a health and wellness coach and certified personal trainer. She is the author of Healthy Weight: It’s a Family Affair. Her website is victoriousmcg.com.