Ten Healthy Tips to DeStress
We all endure stressful times. Whether you simply have too much on your plate or are undergoing the trauma of something like divorce, stress is a fact of life. For me, when I joyfully gave birth to my second child, the stress quickly mounted as I juggled caring for a newborn, keeping an active four-year old boy engaged, working in my profession, and taking care of my family and home. Despite that the addition of my daughter was a happy time, my workload was intense, and I was stressed.
I would find myself lashing out at my husband and close family members who were just trying to help.
And then about six months later, when serious health issues materialized for me, I dealt with a different kind of stress. Now I had the help I needed to get everything done while not feeling well, but I was resentful of my illness, mad that I couldn’t just keep taking care of everyone and everything as I had before and frightened about the future.
Again, I found myself treating others in a way that I immediately regretted, but I couldn’t help it. I clearly needed better ways to channel my stress.
Something To Consider
When you’re stressed, rather than dealing with your stress in unhealthy ways like overeating, abusing medications or alcohol, or just being mean, like me, to my loved ones, consider these healthier alternatives:
1. Take time for yourself. Although you probably feel like you don’t have time to add anything additional to your plate, taking some time for yourself can help. Even if you just read a book, watch a favorite television program, or meditate, or just sit and stare at the wall for thirty minutes a day, taking time for yourself daily can really help to recharge you.
2. Get a hobby. What do you enjoy doing? Is it a morning run? Afternoon meditation? Baking new cakes and cookies? Making jewelry? Explore your passions. Wherever they lead you, you’ll have a place to channel your stress and some time to think about something other than whatever is causing it.
3. Get a massage. They always make me feel better. They are therapeutic, and as all those toxins are rubbed out of you, you might find the clarity that you need as you feel more relaxed.
4. Exercise. Move that body! Even if it’s just for thirty minutes a day, three days a week, moving around will help your body and your spirit. Exercise makes you release endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the body that relieve stress and pain.
5. Eat healthier. A poor diet makes us more tired and increases our chances of illness. On the other hand, a healthy diet builds a more solid foundation for your body. And some foods even reduce the levels of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, in your body. Consider foods like avocado, banana, tea, swiss chard, fatty fish, whole wheat pretzels, carrots, milk, yogurt, nuts, and, oh, yes! dark chocolate.
6. Drink less caffeine and alcohol. Too much caffeine heightens anxiety. It is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause insomnia, which is especially uncomfortable when you’ve got a lot on your mind. Alcohol is a depressant that reduces communication between your brain and body. Too much of it can impair your emotional control, judgment, and short-term memory. It also increases your chances of becoming sick. Avoid the coffee and whiskey and enjoy a mug of decaf herbal tea.
7. Sleep more. Sleep allows the body to repair itself and be fit and ready for another day. Getting adequate rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration. Sleep is restorative, so make it a priority to get eight hours a night.
8. Write it out. It helps to share your feelings, even if it’s just with yourself. By writing consistently in a journal, you explore your feelings more in depth. And, who knows, your journal entries may eventually become a book!
9. Spend time with your family and friends. You may not feel like being social, but you’ll probably find that once you’re around your close family and friends, you’ll start to feel better. Even if you don’t feel like talking about whatever is stressing you, being around people who love and support you is always good for the mental state.
10. Talk about it. Why are you stressed? Are there things that can help it? Can anyone help ease your stress? Perhaps someone else knows something that will help. Whomever you’re sharing with might provide solutions that hadn’t occurred to you. And sometimes just airing your feelings makes you feel better. If you don’t feel like sharing your problems with your family or friends, try talking to a counselor.
During times of stress, it can be normal to slip into bad, unhealthy habits. But recognizing that they will do more harm than good and understanding healthy behaviors that you should implement instead will lead you to better, less stressful days.
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About this week’s author, Lori Skipper.
Lori received her Juris Doctor with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in December 2004, from which she graduated with honors. Proud to be a Florida Gator, Lori had also attended the UF as an undergraduate, graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, as well as a Minor in Education. Choosing her law school focus early, as a student member of the Virgil B. Hawkins Civil Clinic, Lori assisted indigent clients with family law issues.