Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

Stress Management Guide

 

 

The BYU Career and Academic Success Center has great advice on how to improve yourself as a student. Walking through the Wilkinson center one day, I picked up some papers from the center and one of them was on Stress Management. This is the strategy they suggest for how to manage stress:

1) Change the cause of your stress

2) Develop skills to cope

3) Manage your mind

4) Lead a balanced life

I thought I would use an example of mine, to show how exactly these can be implemented. First, you have to ask yourself what is stressing you out?

Kelly (or insert your name here), what is stressing you out or worrying you?
Answer: the fact that I have to get up at 5 am, and I haven’t been getting enough sleep all week, and I haven’t packed at all for my weekend trip to St. George; the uncertainty of whether or not I’ll be able to get work off to go to Lake Powell with my in-laws in a few weeks; I am afraid of getting out of shape because of my lack of self-discipline when it comes to diet and exercise.

–Can anyone relate to this? Sorry if you can’t. And I know these are minor stresses.

Step 1–Change the cause of your stress.
*I could just go to bed right now. I could take a nap tomorrow.
*I could accept the occurrences I will get  when I have unexcused absences at work, and tell myself that it will be worth it. Family first, right?

Step 2–Develop skills to cope.
*I could manage my time better in the future and not procrastinate homework assignments.
*I could work on my persuasive communication skills that would help me to talk with coworkers about covering my shifts for me.
*I could set verifiable goals for myself to improve how much I exercise and the types and quantities of food I eat

Step 3–Manage your mind.
*Make an effort to be positive and happy even if I am tired
*Have hope that my will be able to get approved time off, and keep trying to find subs.
*Think of the positive benefits of gaining self-control and being healthy. Think of the things that you are doing right instead of focusing on the things you aren’t the best at.

Step 4–Lead a balanced life.
*Despite your current stresses, make it a main goal to keep yourself healthy. Keep trying to do better. No one is perfect.
*Make time for things you love to do.
*Get more sleep.

Hopefully this example will encourage you to manage your stress too! For more information on stress management, visit MedicineNet.

 

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Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

Stress and Immunity Connection

Constant and chronic stress breaks down your immune system. After a while, the body just can’t cope with all of the things it normally does. This weakening of immunity makes you vulnerable to many diseases and illnesses, including insomnia, eating disorders, depression, colds and viruses, circulatory problems, and diabetes. Along with the immune system not being able to fend off bacteria and viruses as well, its healing mechanisms do not function as adequately either. Studies have shown that people who report being stressed do not heal as quickly as those who report lower stress levels.

Skin problems are just one of many manifestations of weak immune system functioning often caused by stress. For another personal example, around the time I got eye surgery, my husband, Josh, starting getting hives every day. We thought it was his sugar allergy that he had gotten rid of a few years ago, coming back. The problem with that guess though, was that he ate an entire Hershy’s chocolate bar while camping, and woke up with absolutely no hives. It wasn’t consistent. We started speculating about other foods, but finally figured out that it was probably stress-related.

Remember the role that nutrition plays also. Although we think that the root cause of Josh’s hives was stress, the food he ate effected it too. Because of his weakened immunity, his body couldn’t handle the same foods that normally didn’t cause a problem for him. Now that he is less stressed, and he has improved his diet, his hives are nearly gone.

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

The Connection Between Stress and Muscle Problems

I just had a recent personal experience dealing with the effect of stress on muscles. A couple months ago I had eye surgery because I have juvenile glaucoma, and I would go blind in my right eye if I didn’t get the surgery right away. All of the stress of getting surgery, and having some permanent vision loss, brought on an unexpected stress response. I got a muscle spasm in my hands that was the worst when I was most stressed. I never knew something like that could happen. The muscle spasms started around the time I had surgery and up until I was in the doctor’s office getting fluid pumped into my eye with a needle, I didn’t even realize that it was because of stress.

Stress can affect all your muscles. It is important to recognize this so you can try to reduce your stress before the problems get worse. Muscle spasms and pain of any sort could cause permanent damage if not taken care of soon enough. Try getting a massage every now and then. It will help release tension and stress that you store in your muscles. Massaging the tension out of them can literally release stress.

Check out more information on muscle relaxation tips.

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

Have Some Fun!

Everyone needs a little time out sometimes to just do something fun and to relax! Here are some ideas for you:

*Read a book

*Watch a movie

*Take a nap

*Just take a moment to think and breath

*Go on a date with that special someone

*Draw or color something–express your inner artist

*Do something crafty like finger painting, or make something out of paper or cardboard

*Do something active! Go play your favorite sport, go hiking, take a walk around the block, go swimming, go on a bike ride

*Try out an aerobics class or a weight lifting class

*Spend time with friends and family

*Do something you love to do!!!

 

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

The Link Between Sleep and Stress

Studies have shown that stress often affects the way people sleep. About half of all Americans say they lay awake at night because of stress. Even if you can sleep, too much stress can make it so your sleep is un-restful. On the other hand, poor sleeping can also be the cause of stress. It works both ways.

Can’t sleep? Here are some tips for relaxing and for getting better/more sleep.

*Focus on your breathing. Deep, low breathing will help you relax. Take a deep breath in. Your belly should move outward and if you are laying on your back, your back should not rise very much. Fill up your whole body with fresh oxygen. Then breath out slowly. Think about breathing in peace, and breathing out stress.

*Try to imagine that your arms are as heavy as a bag of concrete. Focus on that. Repeat it to yourself over and over. Do one arm at a time, followed by your legs. Your leg is as heavy as a lead pipe…Continue on with the rest of your body, that is, if you’re not already asleep.

*Planning out your day ahead of time will make you feel more at peace with yourself. You will be able to clear your mind and put any thoughts of worry or anticipation aside more easily and just relax.

*Keep in mind that exercising will help you sleep more soundly.

For more relaxation advice, visit Inner Health Studio.

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

Exercise & Nutrition

Exercising regularly and eating well-balanced meals are great ways to reduce stress. When you exercise, endorphins are released in your body that make you feel good. It is also good for lowering your blood pressure which can be elevated if you have too much stress.

Good nutrition is something that I think is often under-estimated. If you are not eating a proper diet–too much soda, too much cake, too much cheese maybe, and not enough fruits and vegetables, it will surely affect your mood and your ability to handle stress.

Both exercise and nutrition are basic needs in order for you to be at your top performance. Make sure these needs are not being overlooked.

*Learn about specific foods that help reduce stress!

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 17, 2011

Smiling: A Cure for Stress

I just found an article on About.com that lists the top 10 reasons for smiling, and they  ALL counteract stress. Here’s the list:

1)Smiling makes us attractive. 
This could help with stress if you are stressed about not looking your best. And it will help mask any tiredness or weakness you may be feeling.

2) Smiling changes our mood.
Having a good attitude helps you to overcome challenges and to not be negatively affected by them.

3) Smiling is contagious.
You will share all these benefits of smiling with others when you make them smile!  Being happy also draws people to you, which should make you even happier because of the added social interaction.

4) Smiling relieves stress.
I’ts tried and true.

5) Smiling boosts your immune system.
This counteracts the weakening of your immune system that happens when you’re stressed. Prevent sickness by smiling!

6) Smiling lowers your blood pressure.
This has actually been measured. Go ahead and experiment, and you’ll see that it is true! On the other hand, if you are overly stressed, you will see an increase in blood pressure.

7) Smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin.
All of these things make us feel happy and relaxed.

8) Smiling lifts the face and makes you look younger.
Again, you’ll be more attractive, you’ll feel better about yourself, and people will be drawn to you.

9) Smiling makes you seem successful.
Many people get stressed because they feel they are unsuccessful. Try smiling and you will feel and look more successful.

10) Smiling helps you stay positive.
That’s right. Even if you don’t feel positive in the first place, smiling can help that positive feeling become real. It can make your stresses seem like they aren’t as bad.

So next time you feel stressed, try smiling! See what changes a little thing can do!
Also, see how laughter affects stress at About.com.

Posted by: stressfree4life | June 10, 2011

What’s the Big Deal About Stress?

Stress is a part of life. Some kinds of stress are important and even necessary to push us forward to reach our goals and meet challenges. This good “Eustress” can drive us to reach our greatest desires and make life feel meaningful and exciting. On the other hand, too much stress, or distress, can cause physical and emotional damage that is often overlooked. There are thousands of ways stress is manifested and thousands of disorders and diseases that are affected by it.

If you want to live  a happy and healthy life it is important to learn how to manage stress. Just as important as that, we need to learn to recognize when we are stressed. So many people won’t admit that they just need a break–a time out to relax–and they push themselves to the point of mental and physical breakdown which may have long-term consequences. Do yourself a favor and take time to relax when you need it. It will make a huge difference both now and in the long run.

To find out if you are stressed, check out this free stress test.

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