Weekly Wellness: Tips to De-Stress
COLUMBIA - Stress may seem like one of those things that we all talk about being under from time to time. But did you know that stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Common effects of stress on your body:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
Common effects of stress on your mood:
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behavior:
- Overeating or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
Here are some healthy habits that might help you on those super stressful days:
Reclaim Your Commute: Your drive to work can set the tone for your entire day. Whether you listen to relaxing music or let go of whatever happened at home, make a conscious effort to make your commute meditative can help you embrace the day.
Meditate in the Morning: Setting a strong and powerful intention for the day during a morning meditation will kick your day off in a positive light. Take a few minutes for yourself (it can help a lot).
Hang in the Tub: Relaxing in the tub is one of the easiest ways to take a little time for yourself. Add two cups of Epsom salts to the water to help you detox your system and get a better night's sleep.
Try Acupuncture: If you've been dealing with chronic pain, acupuncture may help. Many individuals leave acupuncture feeling relaxed and calm but still alert.
Fight Stress with Food: Instead of reaching for chips or sweets, reach for healthy foods that fight stress like oranges loaded with vitamin C.
Stretch at Your Desk: When you're sitting at a desk for hours, take a few moments to relieve your body with stretches you can do at your desk.
Go For a Float: Check out a sensory deprivation tank. It’s a soothing dark bath that brings your brain to the theta state (the frequency it experiences just before going to sleep).
Take Teatime: A warming, soothing cup of hot tea is one of the oldest tricks in the book for relaxation. Take the time to sit and enjoy a few minutes of solitude with a warm mug in your hands.
Get a Massage: I don’t think I really need to say much more.
Listen to Music: Research has shown that lying down and listening to music is as effective as massage.
Think Yoga in the Car: Loosen up your grip on the wheel and engage your core while driving!
Love Lavender: A calming scent like lavender can boost your mood and help you calm down. Add a little lavender essential oil to a diffuser or light a candle to let the scent enter the room softly.
Laugh More: Not only does laughing lead to fun, it soothes tension in your body and relieves your initially stressed-out response on the spot. (And laughter can improve your immune system!)
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation: The basic concept of progressive muscle relaxation is that when you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation, you become more aware of physical sensations.
Make Time for Yoga: A beginner-friendly relaxing yoga sequence will relax muscles, release tension, and help get your head in a happier place. Just 20 minutes is all that you need to revitalize your body through yoga.
Call Your Mom: Studies have shown that even over the phone a mother's voice can soothe your stress. If calling mom is not an option (or she stresses you out even more), call a friend.
Get Grateful: Taking the time to make a gratitude list will have you focusing on all the good and positive things you have to celebrate. Keeping a daily gratitude journal for your eyes only will help you calm down and count your blessings.
Don't Put It Off: According to clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Friedman, dealing with stress is essentially: "understanding and action." Once you know what's contributing to your agitation, ask yourself, "How am I going to deal with this?" From there, take direct action. Once you start feeling more in control, your stress will begin to dissipate naturally.
Breathe Deep: If you ever find yourself in the midst of a panicked or stressed moment, then check in with your breathing. If it feels shallow or strained, then try a few big and deep diaphragmatic breaths.
Don't Hit Snooze: Wake up when you say you're going to wake up, and start your morning out with a calm mind.
If you try all of these and you’re still dealing with stress, it might be time to contact your medical professional. You may need a little more help than a bath and a cup of tea. Don’t be intimidated to ask for help. We all need help from time to time.