Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

5 Stress-Busting Tips

Stress can make us unwell. It wreaks havoc on our immune system and messes with our homone balance. It results in the release of actual molecules in our bodies that cause inflammation.

The worst part is, stress is a perception.

It took me a long time to realize what people meant by this – stress is a perception. I KNOW I feel stress when I have a fight with a loved one or that my commute does not run as smoothly as I would hope for. But do those things REALLY matter? Am I still going to be fighting with that person in a week, or even a day from now? If I am a few minutes late for work, is my life going to end?

NO!

Our nervous system evolved to release adrenaline, a stress hormone, during a time when it was a eat-or-be-eaten world. Stress was literally a life-or-death situation. When that situation came up, it was not in our bodies’ best interest to eat, poop, or reproduce. When our body is experiencing stress, it sends out signals to eat less (even though some of us eat more since the food is readily available and we use it as medication), store fuel in case there is not enough food for a while and not reproduce since reproduction takes a lot of work and when you are stressed you don’t have the time or energy to put into creating a new person.

In today’s world, we are hardly ever in a situation where it is “life-or-death.” Sure I might fight with a loved one but that is not going to kill me.

Yes, my commute was less than stellar. But, really, all that means is I’m a few minutes late for work and I may have to stay late to finish a project. If that project does not get done today, am I going to die? NO!

Stress is a perception and how we respond to various situations can either keep our stress low or elevate it to all-time high. When we allow the elevation to happen, we affect our health.

Keep your stress under control with these few simple tips:

  • Make time for you. Every day!
    • If you don’t take time out for yourself, you are not going to have the strength or the energy to care for others. Do not look at taking that time as being selfish. Look at it as recharging your battery so that you can be present for others who need you.
    • Do something you love during that “you” time – read a book, go for a hike or a run, do something creative.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no!”
    • You can’t do it all. It’s that simple. You cannot take on every person’s requests. Pick and choose.
  • Sleep
    • I think it goes without saying, we all feel better after a good night’s sleep. How many times have you gone to bed worrying about something and, in the morning, realized that it is no big deal?
  • Meditate
    • Even if it’s just 10 minutes, take time every day to meditate. One of my favorite ways to meditate is called “walking meditation.” While I walk, I focus on my feet. How they feel in my shoes or against the ground. The pace that I am walking at. When I find my mind wandering, I recognize it and pull it gently back to my feet.
  • Movement
    • I hate to exercise. However, whenever I move, endorphins are released that help combat feelings of stress and make me feel great. I incorporate movement into my life by walking, riding my bike to run my errands, snow shoing, or playing with my kids. Even my teenagers still like to go to the park and toss a Frisbee or a football around with their mother. J

I’d love to hear from you! What do you do to relieve stress?

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