Yeah, me. And probably you. I’ve got to tell ya, these days it really does seem that ‘the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.’ We make the best laid plans … to meet a deadline, to lose a few pounds, to treat ourselves better, to appreciate all of the good things life has to offer, to make better use of our time. It all looks good on paper and then, blam. Life interrupts.
I was having one of those days today. I had a book due, our son is about to have surgery, my DH is suffering with some heavy duty back pain, I still haven’t de-Christmased our house, or solidified plans for my next book, or figured out why I'm having such difficulty all of a sudden with computer related eye strain, why I don't get Twitter, AND I had a bad diet day. And just for good measure, add in a generous dose of guilt over feeling put upon by my minor problems in light of the horrendous suffering in Haiti. In any event, I was about to head for bed and attempt to sleep the pressure away when I realized, whoops, I had a blog post to write for tomorrow. I felt stressed. But I figure you already got that.
So, I bop out onto the web to troll around for ideas on a blog topic when what to my wondering eyes did appear but an article tailor made for my current situation: Stress. I know. It’s like kismet, right? Anyway, it was just what the doctor ordered and I figured why not share what I learned with you all. So here goes.
According to a recent article by Drs. Stephanie McClellan and Beth Hamilton, the intense demands of modern-day can and do take their toll on women (and men) in many ways. Okay, so these days we’re not bouncing across the prairie in covered wagons sans microwaves and dishwashers or giving birth without benefit of anesthetic or sterile birthing rooms, but, that’s not to say we don’t have our own unique set of stressors. Since stress can play a heavy duty role in the way we manifest disease, getting a grip on the issue is crucial. Stress can make you feel pressured, rushed, edgy or just totally exhausted. It can cause sleeping problems, loss of sex drive, weight gain, chronic pain or heart problems.
Conclusion: We need to do something about it. Ever searching for ways to help a girlfriend out, I’ve done the research for you (I know. I’m a gem) and have come up with a list of suggestions to help you untie those knots, lift those spirits and diffuse that tension. Ready? Here goes.
1. Take a calming Breath: This is a fundamental relaxation technique that all stress types should practice. You have probably taken a deep breath before plunging into something – a difficult conversation, serving a tennis ball, trying not to cry. This will work while standing in line, sitting at your desk or preparing a meal. When you sigh, you are unconsciously using a relaxation technique by inhaling more air than usual and exhaling. Breathing deeply has a calming and centering effect, and you can do it anyplace, anytime for a quick fix for acute stress.
2. Smile or Laugh: When you smile or laugh, endorphins are released from the brain. These endorphins are naturally produced chemicals that make a person feel good. A hearty laugh can also give the body an internal workout. The process of laughing instigates a cycle that makes you breathe faster and makes your muscles tense. Then your muscles relax, your breathing slows and your heart rate decreases. Smiling and laughing allows you to connect with something other than tension or stress, so think of a fond memory or focus on someone or something that makes you happy.
3. People Watch: Take a moment to enjoy the energy and excitement occurring right in front of you. During your lunch break or while running errands is a great time to let go of yourself, take in your surroundings and watch others. Even if just for a moment, this will help you to refresh and regroup.
4. Go Nuts Over Chocolate: (Yeah baby!!) To boost your brain and calm stress, eat a handful of walnuts and a piece of dark chocolate. Walnuts are full of omega-3s, essential fatty acids that elevate the mood, and tryptophan, an amino acid that, when combined with dark chocolate, provides your brain with the soothing effects of the beloved anti-stress messenger serotonin.
5. Listen to Music, flip Through a Magazine or read a chapter from a super hot romance novel (How convenient: You’ll find several GREAT titles right here on Topdown) Sometimes allowing yourself to be distracted momentarily is a helpful way to refocus in moments where you feel stress building up. By withdrawing your senses from life’s demands and what is troubling you, you can gain control over your attention. Honing in on the music playing in a store or flipping through a magazine while in the checkout line is a great way to relieve whatever might be provoking stress in the moment.
6. Practice these Eight Words That Can Change Your Life: It’s not all that difficult when receiving an invitation or a request to say, “Let me get back to you on that,” then look at your schedule and see if the invite warrants the effort. It’s a great way of managing your time and giving you the space you may need to reflect on the importance of every event you are invited to.
Okay. Wha'da ya think? Can you work with these ideas? Do you see value or benefit in them? I figure they're a good start but surely we can expand the list. How do you combat stress? What’s your ‘go to’ ‘sure fire’ ‘never fails ya’ technique to deal with stress? I want to know. We'd all like to know. And since I'm dealing with yet one more stresser this month (oh, no, another birthday!!!) I'll give away an autographed copy of FEEL THE HEAT (or a book of your choice) to some generous commenter.