Choose your term of choice- stressed, anxious, apprehensive, concerned, afraid….all of these negative emotions, if not handled correctly, can compromise your health and sense of wellbeing!
Stress and anxiety are going to come our way, it’s a part of life for all of us, it’s more about examining what we can do to AVOID what stressors we can (rather than invite and entertain their presence,) IDENTIFY AND MANAGE what we should (rather than ignore, suppress or deny,) and learn to RELEASE AND RELIEVE effectively (rather than carrying it all around,) that may make the difference in the end result in regard to our overall health profile!
The first step is to know the source. Stress and anxiety come to us by way of people (including ourselves,) places, and things. It does us no good to deny our stressors create anxiety or to try to suppress and ignore the effect they are having on us. The things we don’t look at head on have the tendency to bite us from behind, so LOOK at your source clearly and straight in the eye- know the culprit by name!
The next step is to categorize the source. Is it someone, somewhere, or something that you have direct control over? If so, CHANGE something! If it’s your own mind and it’s your own cycle of thoughts that are torturing you then changing your thought process and deciding what thoughts are worth entertaining and which ones need to be redirected can change your emotional state and stress level.
Your emotional state will feed your attitude, and your behavior will follow the attitude. (Thoughts lead to feelings; feelings lead to attitudes, attitudes eventually “act out” and become behaviors!) Start becoming more aware of what you’re thinking about. Negative thoughts are TOXIC on so many levels! You do have control here! See if your thought passes the first test- is the thought even true? Even if it IS true, is it necessary? Is your thinking the thought going to change anything or help you in any way? Is it taking you anywhere you want to go or just rehashing and replaying in a “big feelings/little action” ineffective way?
The only person we have the right to control is ourselves, truly! You can exert rightful authority over employees that may work under you, and minor children, but in my estimation, that’s IT! So our time and energy should be invested in changing ourselves for the better, not making our spouses, parents adult children, siblings, co-workers, friends etc our “pet project.”
Places and things- reassess their role in your life and what might be done differently to get a new result possibly. If it’s your workplace that creates anxiety strategize on how you can alter the shape of your days in order to feel more sane and stable. Think about what is possible! We all know that the psychological definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a new result! Let’s be willing to make changes as we journey down the road towards being healthier in every way!
The things that you realize you CANNOT control can still be very stressful, making us anxious, so we also need to find ways to release, relieve, and manage them.
*Journal your journey. What’s eating at you? Clarify it and see it with fresh eyes. If necessary, talk it over with a trusted friend or a professional counselor.
*Walk it off. Ready to blow? Walk away! You’ll probably need to go back to “it”, but even a little 10 minute walk or any form of movement will clear your head and calm you down. Exercise is THE #1 stress reliever, so do something! Cardio will help to sweat it out and release feel good endorphins. Muscle Conditioning fools your body into thinking that you’ve escaped the source of your stress as your blood circulates, helping to flush out over secretions of stress hormones like cortisol. Flexibility training invites a quiet mind, hitting the mental OFF switch and reminding us to BREATHE! Never underestimate the value and power of a good, deep breath. Do it right now. Breathe in for a few seconds slowly through your nose. Breathe out for the same amount of seconds through nose or mouth. Feel better? Slow, deep breathing quiets the body and is a very real calming mechanism. So do SOMETHING when you feel that anxiety and stress lurking.
*Make Smart Food Choices Stress eating is for REAL so beware! When we’re feeling anxious we tend to eat and drink poorly and too much. When you are aware of feeling anxious, be more conscious about what you are putting in your mouth, how much you’re consuming, and WHY! Slow down! When we are anxious we tend to “scarf” our food. Fast eating cuts off the signal that we’re full, so we tend to eat too much. Sit. Chew. Choose wisely and enjoy! Watch out for the booze! Alcohol may feel like it’s calming your jitters, but it’s a short term fix.
*Give in to your cravings. A little. When we are anxious, we may crave something salty or sweet. If you totally deprive yourself, it may backfire and you may end up on a binge. Try instead to indulge your craving, just a little, and you may feel better. I recommend a maximum allowance of 200 calories a day for non nutritional intake- this includes snacks, sweets, and alcohol, so choose your medicine wisely! Try to limit your sugars to 15 added grams a day (not naturally occurring sugar that comes by way of fruit and whole plain dairy products.)
*Laugh! Out Loud! A happy heart is good medicine. A good chuckle can lower your blood pressure and release your stress and relieve your anxiety. Put a smile on your face and laugh it up!
*Slow down on the caffeine It can take you up on a mountain, but tends to dump you back into the valley rather rapidly. If you’re already feeling anxious, caffeine literally stimulates more of the same feeling. Water may be boring but it’s better!
*Sleep it off. Nothing enhances anxiety like sleep deprivation. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep every 24 hours helps us to stay in balance. The more sleep deprived we are, the less able we are to respond properly to stressors that are bound to come our way!
*COME TO THE OAKS! Seriously! Sometimes we just need a break. Come home to the Oaks and let us cook for you. Your stay is always good medicine!