Monday, June 26, 2006

10 More Easy Activities to Reduce Stress

Managing stress can be challenging for anyone with a busy lifestyle, a hectic job, a family, a health concern, or concern about a loved one. Stress doesn't discriminate. It can and does affect everyone. Some people notice it in subtle ways like feeling more tired at the end of the day, or feeling tightness in your shoulder and neck muscles. Others notice profound effects such as migraine headaches, back pain, upset stomach or ulcers, even hair loss and addictive eating patterns.

Stress is a major health concern since we have become a technological society with ever increasing financial burdens and the need for both parents to work outside the home. The family dynamic has changed radically since the 1950's and earlier. More ways to cope with a hectic life and to reduce stress are needed.

Here are 10 more easy ways to reduce stress:
  • Eat only when you are hungry. Food is necessary fuel to sustain your body, but eating to fill a void or to comfort yourself in times of stress only adds more stress to your body.
  • Eat healthy food. Junk food and high caffeine drinks add to stress and do not properly feed or nourish your body. While they may give you a small sense of instant gratification, think about how you will feel hours later. Eating a balanced, healthy diet will reduce the stress on your body, will sustain your energy for longer periods of time and help you get a good night's sleep.
  • Laugh. Rent a comedy and enjoy yourself before going to bed. It will release the tension built up in your muscles throughout the day and will prepare you for a solid night's sleep. Laughter is also a way to reduce stress when you are with others. It can relieve tension in a group and put everyone at ease.
  • Create a routine that works for you each day. Having a specific focus and a routine to follow can be very soothing and meditative for most people.
  • Meditate or pray in the morning and again before bed. This can be a simple exercise of clearing your mind of all thoughts and focusing on your breath for 5 minutes. You'll feel much calmer throughout the day and notice the effect it has on reducing your stress. You will respond to situations in a lighter, more balanced way.
  • Keep a journal. Writing thoughts and events that happened during the day in a journal before you go to bed can be very freeing for your mind. Going to sleep while ruminating about the events of the day only makes you relieve them in your sleep. This is stressful on your mind as well as your body.
  • Write a ‘to-do’ list each night before going to bed. This will ease your mind and you will not spend the night worrying about the next day and whether or not you will remember to do something. Keep the list small and written for the next day only. Make a separate list that includes big, long term things to do. Post it on your fridge so it has a place of importance, but it is not next to your bed. Remember to check off things as you have accomplished them.
  • Clean the house. Clutter adds stress to your mind and body by accumulating stagnant energy which adds pressure to your life. Sort and organize your space so that you feel calmer in your environment.
  • Give away all the clutter that no longer serves you. If you haven't used and item or worn a piece of clothing for one year, it’s a good sign that it is time to release it. Cleaning your closet can be calming and can give you a sense of accomplishment. Your heart will also be lighter from having gifted those items to someone who may need them, i.e. Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.
  • Receive. Allow yourself to receive care and concern from others around you. Resisting their affection or help only adds more burden to your already long to-do list. Their love and attention is also very healing for your heart and mind. You deserve to receive just as you give. It is a two way street. By only giving and resisting receiving, you delete your energies without replenishing. This adds stress to your body, mind and spirit. Receive. You deserve it!

Above all, remember that you are doing your best each day. You are only one person and you can only do so much each day. Know your limits and stick to them. Learn how to say, "No." It may just be the best stress reducer of all!

© 2006 Jodie Foster

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