Monthly Archives: June 2016

Tips to Managing Stress

Stress reduction is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, just like diet and exercise. These tips will help you keep your stress levels under control.

When you’re stressed, your head may start to hurt, or you may feel nauseous, dizzy, or just plain overwhelmed. Stress can have a huge impact on every aspect of your life, so stress reduction is necessary for maintaining both your physical and emotional health. Since you can’t simply wish stress away, managing stress is a vital skill to develop.

Managing Stress: When You Experience a Sudden Spike

Certain situations create stress instantly, such as a major issue at work or a crisis at home that needs to be addressed right away. When there’s an urgent problem that requires your immediate attention, managing stress is important so that you can think clearly. Try these stress reduction tips to help you deal with anxiety-provoking experiences:

Put it in perspective. Maybe you’re disappointed that you didn’t get a promotion you were up for or concerned that money is a little tight this month because of an unexpected medical bill. Feeling stressed is a natural reaction. But try to take a step back and ask yourself: will this issue still matter in a year? In five years? If the answer is no, take a deep breath and try to move forward. Keeping things in perspective is crucial to managing stress.
Come up with a plan. If there’s a specific problem you need to fix, make a list of all possible solutions and pick the best one for your situation. Realizing that you have options and coming up with a concrete plan will have a direct effect on stress reduction.
Accept what you can’t control. Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.

Managing Stress: When It’s at a Slow, Steady Boil

Sometimes it’s not one specific problem, but rather nagging concerns about your job, health, finances, or family members that create a steady build-up of stress. Try these tips to help you with stress reduction:

Give yourself a break. Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bubble bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.
Get regular exercise. Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity.
Express your feelings. If something’s bothering you, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or co-workers, about what’s on your mind. Even if you’re not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.
Managing Stress: Keeping Stressful Situations to a Minimum

Being prepared for difficult situations, managing your time well, and solving problems quickly can help you avoid unnecessary stress:

Set reasonable expectations. Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it’s okay to say no to activities at your child’s school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don’t take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they’ll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.
Resolve issues before they become crises. It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you’re concerned about a brewing situation, whether it’s at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.
Everyone feels stress — it’s impossible to avoid it all the time. But it is possible to keep stress under control by setting realistic expectations of yourself, learning how to keep problems in perspective, and enjoying relaxing breaks from the daily demands of life.

The Best Ways to Take a Mental Vacation

Small stressors can quickly add up to major stress and one big stressful event can send you reeling, with no idea of how to start addressing it. If you could just get away for a little stress relief, you know you would be okay. But too few of us have the time — or the money — to run off on an impromptu vacation.

Well, you don’t have to spend a dime or go anywhere other than a quiet spot nearby to take a mental vacation.

Stress Relief: Take Off on a Mental Vacation

If you don’t find a way to reduce stress, your health will pay the price, both mentally and physically. It’s not necessary to get a lengthy massage or head to a beach to relax — you can unwind every day in simple ways and still get a major benefit.

“People who are under a lot of stress have physical problems related to constantly being under stress,” says Sally R. Connolly, a social worker and therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. “And if you don’t find ways [to relieve it], even in small periods of time, you can have long-term consequences.” It’s crucial to add stress relief to your everyday routine, she says.

Connolly suggests learning techniques to reduce stress and trying to sneak in one or two each day. “Even if it’s five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night, just find time to do that,” she says.

Stress Relief: Six Quick Mental Trips

Visualizing a stress-free place and other relaxation techniques are quick and easy ways to help your whole body calm down and give you just the boost you need to get on with your day. Connolly suggests these six ways for you to slip away on a mental vacation to reduce stress:

1. Read a book in bed. Connolly says this is a great escape and can leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to face whatever is outside your bedroom door. Your bed is warm, cozy, comfortable, and a peaceful place for you. It feels luxurious, and getting lost in a good book is a perfect way to forget, then refocus, your own thoughts.
2. Visualize relaxation. Steal a few quiet moments to close your eyes and think of an image that relaxes you — such as the warm sun on your skin and the sound of the ocean, a big country field sprinkled with flowers, or a trickling stream. Connolly suggests thinking back to a time when you felt peaceful and relaxed, and focus on releasing the tension from your toes to your head.
Look at pictures from a happy time. Connolly recommends pulling out snapshots from a photo album of a family vacation or a fun dinner with friends. Reflect on your memories of that occasion, and what made it so enjoyable. Spend a few quiet moments reminiscing, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed.
4. Look out a window. Distract yourself by focusing on something other than what’s stressing you. Grab a steaming cup of coffee or tea, close the door, and take a mental break. Do a little people watching, appreciate any birds within view, or enjoy some fluffy clouds rolling by. Allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes.
5. Listen to a relaxation CD. Invest in a couple of these CDs for a short daily escape, says Connolly. You may like to hear chirping birds, rolling waves, or gentle rain — whatever your choice, closing your eyes and listening to these soothing sounds while doing some deep breathing can help you relax and de-stress.
6. Take a walk. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress because it’s a great escape for your mind. Head out for a quiet early morning walk or lace up your sneakers on your lunch break. Walking along a trail, waterfront, or other peaceful place when possible may offer even more relaxation.
Treat yourself to a 5-, 10-, or 20-minute mental vacation each day and train your body to relax and reduce stress — you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after taking just a few luxurious moments all to yourself.

Tips to Get Better Sleep

Staying healthy and getting a good night’s sleep go hand-in-hand, but just getting more sleep isn’t enough. Find out how to get the best quality sleep you can.

Sleep isn’t an indulgence. Your body needs sleep, and plenty of it. But in a hectic world where you’re already pressed for time, getting plenty of high-quality sleep can be a bit of a challenge.

Better Sleep: How Sleep Affects Your Health

Your body can’t keep going without time to rest and recharge. Sleep is necessary to help regulate hormones and body processes — even the way your cells function. Without enough sleep, your physical and emotional health can suffer. Being short on sleep can make you:

More likely to catch an illness
Tired and stressed
Unable to focus and concentrate at work or school
More emotional or moody
Have trouble making decisions
Less able to get along with others
More likely to fall down or have some sort of accident
Have problems with coordination while driving, using tools, or working at the computer

Better Sleep: Get the Right Amount of Sleep

On average, most adults need seven or eight hours of quality sleep each night, but there’s no hard and fast magic number that’s right for everybody. A little quality sleep is better for you than a long night of restless sleep. The amount of sleep that you need changes as you age and varies with hormonal changes, like during pregnancy.

You should wake up easily in the morning, feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, not bleary-eyed and stumbling out of bed. If you consistently get seven hours of sleep but still wake up feeling drowsy, you probably need a little more. Once you figure out what works for you, be consistent about getting that amount every night.

Better Sleep: Set the Stage

If you’re always tired because you only allow yourself a few hours of sleep each night, you obviously need more rest. But what’s even more important is getting better sleep. Here are tips to make your bedroom a more restful place:

Keep your room dark and quiet when you sleep.
Keep the temperature on the cool side at bedtime; people don’t sleep as well in rooms that are too hot. Find your best temperature somewhere between 54 and 75 degrees.
Treat yourself to a big, comfy bed with the right pillow to support your head and neck.
Make sure your sheets are clean, soft, and comfortable.
Save your bedroom for sleeping and having sex; keep your TV and computer elsewhere in your home.
Better Sleep: Prep When You’re Awake

What you do during the day has a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Exercise is great early in the day to prepare you for a good night’s sleep; working out too close to bedtime can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Drinking caffeine or alcohol, eating fattening foods, watching TV, working, and smoking shortly before bed can all make it hard to truly relax. So to get better sleep, start getting your body ready for bed hours before you actually turn in.

Better Sleep: No Skimping Allowed

Don’t think of better sleep as a luxury to enjoy when you have time. You make time for meals, paying bills, and doing household chores because they must be done, right? The same should go for more sleep. Block off the needed hours every night just as you would for those other important responsibilities.

Getting good quality sleep does seem luxurious because it feels great to slip between those clean sheets, relax, and then feel completely refreshed in the morning. So don’t skimp on sleep, and look forward to this reward at the end of each long day.