Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 Days: How to Manage Stress

If you are like me, you are going a hundred miles per hour in opposite directions all day long. As a mom, I have mastered the art of multi-tasking. While I still consider this a good thing to learn, it can also have a negative aspect. While your mind is working on three different things at once, stress starts to build up quickly.

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My mind is on the go all day long. Since we live in an age of instant gratification in almost every aspect of our lives, it is hard to intentionally take the time to slow down.

Stress can definitely be detrimental to your health. Some of the symptoms you may experience from stress are:

  • poor eating habits
  • forgetfulness (I’m pretty sure this is a hopeless cause for me after my 2 pregnancies!)
  • headaches
  • lack of energy/focus
  • short temper
  • trouble sleeping
  • upset stomach
  • general aches and pains

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When your body experiences stress, it responds by releasing hormones that increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar. If this goes on for a longer period of time, you may be at risk for:

  • depression/anxiety
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • skin problems

A small amount of stress can be good for you because it keeps you alert and gives you a burst of energy. Notice that I said “small amount!”

FYI—A recent survey found that women were more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men.

First of all, you need to identify the areas that are causing you the most stress. Decide which areas are problems that you can solve right now and which ones are pretty much out of your control. Try to come up with a solution for that problem area…from reorganizing the way you do something to learning how to say “no” to other people who are requesting your time and energy.

Develop some techniques or activities that help calm you down during stressful times. These may include:

  • a warm, relaxing bath (obviously this isn’t something that most moms will be able to do mid-day during the stressful situation)

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  • take a few moments to STOP and take some long deep breaths (this may require you to hide in the bathroom or closet depending on what is going on in your house at the moment…ha!)
  • take some time out of your day to do something enjoyable to you…even for just a few minutes…such as reading a book, reading a magazine, reading a couple favorite blogs, listening to some music, or simply sitting on the couch and staring off into space while enjoying your morning coffee…ha!
  • create a cozy environment in your home with some music and candles…create a sense of calm amid the chaos

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Try to take some steps to prevent stress from taking over in the first place. The steps might include:

  • getting enough sleep (I’m definitely not practicing what I preach since I am up after midnight writing this…I’m a night owl…it’s what I do)
  • eating a healthy, well-balanced diet

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  • exercising regularly (I definitely notice a difference in my stress level when I actually get some good workouts in for the week)

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  • supplement your diet to make sure you are getting the nutrients that your body needs to maintain your energy throughout the day (I have actually been taking 1 Vitamin B complex tablet a couple of times throughout the day in addition to my morning multivitamin/multimineral supplement…at noon…and again around 3pm. Vitamin B is water-soluble so your body is excreting it throughout the day. I like to make sure that I am getting a steady stream of Vitamin B to decrease my stress/anxiety and increase my energy level)

Later this month, I will discuss in more detail how to take the time to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself will allow you to take care of your family!

What is your favorite way to de-stress?

Next, read {Day 5: Are Coupons Worth the Effort?}

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