November 20, 2017

Take a Breather! By Sarah Johnson

Take a Breather by Following these Stress-Reduction Tips:

Even after the hectic holidays are over, a new year may bring new stress and anxiety.  Why not take a step back this year, and instead of worrying about all of the changes you’d like to tackle, make a resolution to manage your stress through these simple techniques.

Find some quiet time.  When your job or family demands become overwhelming, carve out a 5 minute time-out for yourself to stop, breathe and regroup.  Simply counting to ten and taking several deep breaths can slow your heart rate and blood pressure.  Take this time to reevaluate the stressful situation and respond to it calmly.

Exercise regularly.  Keeping up with your workouts can be challenging when the weather or your schedule don’t cooperate.  But getting in some form of exercise regularly is crucial to staying healthy and being able to better handle stressful situations.  Even an extra walk around the office or living room yoga session are better than no exercise!  A little bit will keep you consistent and in the mindset of doing something active every day.

Get enough sleep.  Trying to accomplish it all without much sleep is like flooring your car on fumes.  You’ll be hot out of the gate, but you’ll burn out in no time.  With little sleep, we tend to overreact to stress and feel even more pressure.  Sleep is your chance to recover; your body and mind rest and heal, and you’re able to recharge for another productive day.

Eat well.  Diet and stress management go hand in hand; from preparing meals in advance to eating more antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies in place of processed or pre-packaged foods, you’ll be less anxious if you can make a few simple changes: Know what’s in the food you’re eating.  Prepare it yourself when possible.  Put more fruit and veggies in your grocery cart.  Plan ahead for the week’s meals so you’re less likely to grab something unhealthy.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahJChicago

Too stressed to exercise? By Jana Ross

I’m a morning runner – I wake up before my alarm goes off at 5:30am, crave the sunrises, and savor this quality time I have with my city. In my six years as I runner, I have never set foot to pavement after work. Until one night this week. I tell you this context so you understand what kind of day I must have had to run when it’s already pitch black and not getting any lighter. (Or warmer – it was hovering around 8˚ and only dropped.) One person on a street corner said, “You’re dedicated.” I smiled back and thought, “You have no idea how this run is helping me right now.”

As  to-do lists lengthen, we have no choice but to find some kind of stress reliever. Mine is running, but maybe it’s yoga, a good book or cup of coffee for you. Savor it and don’t let anything keep you from finding the time to pursue whatever it is that calms you down. Sometimes you can’t get to your exercise or stress-reliever the very the minute you need it though, and it helps to have a few tips in your back pocket so you don’t lose your cool. Here are 5 stress-relieving tips:

1. Breathe
Simple but underrated. Use your fingers to press one nostril close and breathe deeply through the other for five seconds. Switch sides and repeat until your pulse slows.

2. Keep Perspective
Play an “it could be worse” game and think about how your stress fits in to the bigger picture. Will someone really remember a few weeks from now if you brought store-bought cookies to the cookie swap? Or pushed a deadline back a few hours to turn in high-quality work?

3. Practice Gratitude
I keep a handy “Things I’m Grateful For” list that I refer to whenever I’m having a really low day. Maybe it’s browsing through your iPhone pictures or calling an old college roommate, sometimes we just need to get out of our own heads.

4. Stretch
There’s something about taking a few minutes to lengthen our cramped muscles that instantly calms us down. It’s restorative and relaxing by nature.

5. Write
Seeing our stresses on paper sometimes helps to understand them as fleeting, manageable, and actionable.

Stress is paralyzing because it overwhelms our rationale, but there is almost always some positive step to take. It’s a choice to be positive. Not an easy choice, but a choice. Now excuse me while I go for a run.

Jana is a healthy living blogger from Boston writing about her love for running, community fitness, and nutrition. She’s run five marathons and is looking ahead to her first triathlon this summer. Check out her blog via www.bananasforbalance.com