Stress and Your Health

Choose your term of choice- stressed out; anxious, apprehensive, concerned, afraid….all of these negative emotions, if not handled correctly, can compromise your overall health and sense of wellbeing. They are literally toxic and can eventually make you sick!

Stress and anxiety are going to come our way, via people, places, things and events- it’s a part of life. The healthy person is always seeking new ways to figure out what we can do to CONTROL what we’re able to, AVOID unnecessary stressors , MANAGE, RELEASE, and RELIEVE effectively the negative impact anxiety and stress have on our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and ultimately behaviors.

First stop is to put your stressor into one of two categories. One you CAN control, and therefore SHOULD, the other you CAN’T control and therefore should stop trying!

If the stressor is “your business,” something in your direct control and legitimately your domain and sphere of influence then CHANGE something! Set a new boundary, (Read a Boundaries if this is a foreign language,) and stop beating your head against an old wall that doesn’t work.

If it’s NOT “your business,” something in your direct control and legitimately your domain and sphere of influence, then it may be time to really examine the time and energy you are investing in something that was never yours to fix. I love the A.A. saying, “Keep your own side of the street clean!” Sometimes we are investing so much time and energy trying to micromanage someone else’s life that we don’t notice our side of the street is a wreck as we’re busily cleaning up after a spouse or adult child or dysfunctional friend or sibling or coworker!

Examining your thought process can change your emotional state and is a GREAT place to start in regard to addressing your stressors more healthfully. What do you think about? Is it helping you or hurting you? Does your mind fixate? Circulate? Do you hash and rehash conversations and events without any real or helpful action follow up?

What you think about directly effects your emotional state. That emotional state will feed your attitude, and your behavior will follow the attitude.

Stress is still stressful, whether or not we are handling it effectively and healthfully, so let’s talk about ways to release and relieve the inevitable:
EXERCISE is the number one way to pop the cork off of your internal bottle of stress and anxiety. Ready to blow up? Walk away! You’ll need to go back to “it”, but even a little walk will clear your head, calm you down, & give you perhaps a new perspective on the problem. Take a class- watch a DVD- stretch and release- just don’t sit and stew! Muscle Conditioning is an effective stress reliever! It 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.
WATCH WHAT STRESS ASKS YOU TO EAT! It’s a real thing- stress eating. We get stressed and suddenly we’re drinking too much, eating too much, going for caffeine, comfort food, sugar, booze, all self medicating…it works in the moment but we feel worse afterwards. Both caffeine and alcohol can take you up on a mountain, but both tend to dump you back into the valley rather rapidly. If you’re already feeling anxious, caffeine literally stimulates more of the same feeling. Alcohol may feel like it’s calming your jitters, but it’s a short term fix. You’d be better served by drinking lots of water.
Stress time is the perfect time to make wise and thoughtful and healthy food choices. Give in to your cravings a little however! 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 giving yourself a 200 calorie allowance per day and ENJOY it without any guilt!
DO EAT! So important to get in nutrition which will stabilize you, clear your head, and allow you to more thoughtfully respond to your stress rather than knee jerk react to it. Do everything you know right to do, I promise it will help! Slow down while you’re eating- enjoy it- let it be a blessing not a burden.
*JOURNAL! What’s really going on? I find a good journaling session helps me to clarify my feelings and experience and also discharges my strong emotions.
COUNSELING may be helpful- just to talk through and problem solve with a friend or professional who you can trust to advise you wisely is a great idea!
*BREATHE! Never underestimate the value and power of a good, deep breath. Do it right now. Breathe in for 4-6 seconds through your nose. Breathe out for the same 4-6 seconds through nose or mouth. Feel better? Deep breathing slows down every system of the body and is a very real calming mechanism. Ahhhhh!
*LOL! Yup. A happy heart is good medicine. A good out loud chuckle can lower your blood pressure and release your stress and relieve your anxiety. Read a joke on line or remind yourself of something amusing. Lighten up and feel lighter!
*SLEEP IT OFF! Nothing enhances anxiety like sleep deprivation. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night or within a 24 hour period on a regular basis helps us to stay in balance on every level, including our level of stress and anxiety. The more sleep deprived we are, the less able we are to respond properly to stressors that are bound to come our way!
Of course a trip to the Oaks is a GREAT STRESS RELIEVER! Come see us soon- there are some GREAT theme weeks coming up!

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