March 6, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
Yikes–Just look at what ongoing stress does to our bodies! We CAN’T ignore this, since many of us tend to live with a fair amount of stress on a regular basis. Do any of the symptoms sound familiar?? Several are considered to be of ‘epidemic proportion’ in the US. In addition, chronic stress is being linked to most major diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Seriously, we all know that we can’t avoid stress in our lives…unless we’re jetted away to the perfect tropical island where our ‘job’ is to relax and enjoy every day…although even that may get stressful, having to choose which tropical drink to get…or deciding on whether to spend the day on a chaise lounge on the beach or in the inviting day spa… OK–back to reality!
Since the majority of us aren’t surrounded by the perfect beach scene on a regular basis—and are subject to sizable amounts of stress every day, how do we realistically avoid or minimize the above effects of ‘Stress Man’?
Here are 10 Simple Stress-Busting Ideas to get you started. It’s truly not rocket science, as you’ll notice. Consider them gentle reminders of how we can maintain a sense of control, at least when it comes to our health.
- Slow Deep Breathing: Take a minute (60 seconds), close your eyes & inhale so your belly expands fully, then slowly exhale. –>See #2 for added effect
- Creative Visualization: Some call it taking a ‘mini mental vacation’—Picture a favorite location/activity (something you enjoy), take a minute (60 seconds) & see yourself there. Take some slow deep breaths while you’re at it!
- Smile & Be Friendly To Others: Even when stress levels are high, tension can be lowered as we take our minds off ourselves and focus on others.
- Aromatherapy: Peel an orange & enjoy the great smells while you’re eating it—or diffuse an essential oil (lemon, spearmint, cinnamon, orange…) in your work environment or home.
- Laugh: A great way to relieve tension—hanging out with funny friends (we all have a few!), watching a funny movie—there’s a lot of funny stuff out there!
- Music Therapy: Have a ‘go-to’ music CD or playlist of your music favorites that help calm and de-stress.
- Hang Out With Your Pet (dogs & cats work well)—or borrow a friend’s dog to take on a walk—there are convincing studies on the positive health effects pets have on their owners!
- Maintain Perspective: Take a step back and look at the ‘bigger picture’ of your life, focusing on what’s really important—It can be helpful to talk it out with a friend as well.
- Get Outside: Even in not so pleasant weather, a blast of fresh air (Deep Breathing is good!) can be de-stressing and energizing.
- Practice Gratitude: An attitude of thankfulness helps us change gears by appreciating what is ‘good’ in our lives—a roof over our heads, a dependable vehicle, great friends, a loving family, the ability to see, adequate food to eat, beautiful outdoor scenery…
Remember—we’re each in charge of our own health. I’m thankful for that very fact!
Oh—here’s one of my favorite de-stressors–actually a double espresso–(decaf after 3PM!) with a piece of dark chocolate…May your stress levels be low and your gratitude high.