6 Tips for Living With Less Stress

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stress is something that I seem to deal with on a daily basis. I’m not sure about you, but my biggest problem is setting too high of expectations for myself with a “To Do List” a million miles long. I worry am I being a good wife, employee, sister, daughter, friend, and what more can I do to make sure everyone is happy with me. Sometimes I get all stressed out over being too stressed and it turns into a vicious cycle. Can anyone relate?

Stress can be an annoyance, but the bigger problem here is that stress can really affect our health and we may not even notice it or realize some of our health issues are stress related. Some common effects of stress include: headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, sleep problems, lack of motivation or focus, irritability/anger, sadness or depression…to name a few. Stress that’s left unchecked can also contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Struggling with losing those last few pounds, belly fat, or that muffin top? Stress can increase cortisol levels, which causes your body to actually resist losing weight. One of the biggest health issues I deal with are stomach issues, and my doctor has informed me stress is probably a huge factor in those issues. Yes diet and exercise help, but getting my stress under control is also an area I need to work on.

So what can we all do to relieve stress and get back to being healthy?

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Get moving
Sometimes the last thing I want to do when I’m stressed is workout. My daily scheduled is usually jammed pack and doesn’t always have room for exercise. But I’ve found that doing some sort of physical activity can really help to reduce stress. It can help pump up your feel-good endorphins, clear your mind so you can focus, and help to increase your self-confidence. You don’t have to spend hours to get the benefit, just spend 20-30 minutes doing a little yoga, take a run or a brisk walk or even just fit in 10 mins of ab work. I actually heard of this company called Oscar Insurance that pays their members to get moving with their incentive program. Each member gets a free Misfit fitness tracker and can earn back cash rewards every day they hit their personalized goals! You can click here to check out their site.

Get some sunshine
Sunlight can boost serotonin, which helps balance your mood and can help with depression. Sometimes when I’ve had a stressful day I’ll take a quick walk around my neighborhood or my office complex, or I’ll take my lunch outside to eat. I also love to jump in the car, put the sunroof back, blast some tunes and just enjoy the warm sunshine. The sun just seems to melt the stress away.

Have a few quite moments
I’m slightly introverted, so whenever I’m really stressed I go through periods of needing some alone time. I love to take a bubble bath, read a book and enjoy some hot tea. I recently started using these Lavender Epsom Sleep Salts in my bath, and they are heavenly and just help to melt the stress away. It is also great for calming you down before bed. .

Read an inspirational book
Keeping positive and motivated is another great way to battle stress. If you have a positive outlook on things, you are more likely to be positive about dealing with a stressful situation. But sometimes it's hard to be positive in a sometimes negative world, so I love reading inspirational books to help me see the brighter side of things and keep my motivation up. I'm currently reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and I do have to say I'm really enjoying this book. There are a lot of great inspirational messages around all sorts of subjects such as finance, health and wellness, and going for your dreams. I also loved reading Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity. You don't have to give up the other things you enjoy reading, I'm actually reading both The Slight Edge book and Giuliana Rancic's new book Going Off Script at the same time. You just need to read about 10 pages, or 10 minutes worth, of the book each day to keep the positivity going and then you can move on to whatever else you enjoy reading (books, magazines, blogs, etc.).

Listen to some music
If I’ve had a really rough day at work, the best way for me to clear my mind and regain focus is to listen to some music. Sometimes I like to listen to something more relaxing (the Pandora “Spa Radio” or a Classical station is sometimes nice and relaxing), or sometimes I’ll try something a little more peppier (type in Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” for some great feel good music). What I love about Pandora is I can type in any song that fits my mood at the time and it will generate more songs just like that.

Shut down the electronics
I am so guilty of this. I feel like between my email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, I’ve become ADD and have a hard time focusing anymore. I’m also really guilty of having to check every notification on my phone the minute it pops-ups, which makes me easily distracted. I’ve also found myself getting antsy when there are no notifications or no new items in my newsfeed. Like I worry I’m going to miss out on another post about a bag/shoes I can’t really afford, or another Starbucks/donut that I really shouldn’t drink/eat. I really need to start implementing a no Social Media weekend, or even a rule to shut things down after 9 pm at night.

Did you know that April is National Stress Awareness Month and has been since 1992? So now’s the perfect time to work towards taking steps to reduce your stress? I’d love to hear more about ways you reduce your stress, or things you would like to focus on for the month of April.

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