As the Holiday season begins approaching (or might already be here) I am going to start a series of blog posts with topics and tips to help you stay healthy and in check during the hectic and fun season. This week I am starting by re-posting an old piece of mine because it is such an important topic; stress. I hope everyone can take a moment today to read, reflect, and incorporate one of these tricks into their routine!
Stress has so many immediate and long term negative effects on the body. These harmful effects can be both physical and mental. Stress can induce chronic disease, anxiety, depression, heart attacks, panic attacks, and other difficult health issues. Matter of fact, 90% of all chronic disease is caused by stress, and to make it worse, about 70% of the population knows that they are stressed out and only about 25-30% try to do something about it.
What are easy ways to reduce or deal with stress?
- Breath. Yes, this may sound corny, but if you can really pause for a few minutes, close your eyes, and practice deep breathing you will immediately feel less stressed. Scientifically, your body can not release the hormone that causes relaxation at the same time as the hormones causing stress therefore this practice works if you focus. Simply inhale 4 to 8 counts of breath and exhale the same; repeat for a few minutes.
- Journal. Taking a few minutes to write out how you are feeling will help you prioritize, organize, and refocus your thoughts. It may bring a new perspective or give you an “aha” moment that will help you calm down and distress.
- Move. Many people find that exercise is a great way to release stress from the body. It can take your mind away from the issues or challenges at hand while pushing your body into a new level of awareness. When you exercise your body releases endorphins that cause you to feel good and motivate you to eat well and work harder. Exercise can be strenuous or just a light walk.
- Sleep. So many people underestimate the importance of getting AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep every night. Inadequate sleep leads to decreases in important hormones that help manage stress levels within the body.
- Hydrate. Dehydration does not allow your brain or body to function properly. Drinking the recommended amounts of water daily and avoiding large amounts of caffeine will help keep your mind conscious and more able to deal with challenges and changes thrown at you.
- Eat Right. Avoid processed, sugary, or fatty foods. Having a strong and healthy body will give you more energy and fuel to work through stress or even totally avoid it.
Here is a great article that discusses foods that aid with stress relief via Mind Body Green: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4170/7-Foods-to-Fight-Stress.html