Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Natural and Healthy Stress Relief Ideas

Heightened stress is a major byproduct of the economic downturn. Whether you're worried about paying bills, finding a job, or you're stress is mounting high because you have more responsibilities at work with less staff. Many people turn to unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, spending too much money at the mall on things you don't need, binge eating, or isolating themselves from others. Yet, these only add to your stress because of the negative consequences.

Yesterday, my project deadline shrank by 4 weeks on top of an already growing workload. My stress level hit the roof, but then my coping skills kicked in and now I'm feeling better 24-hours later.

When your body feels stress you may feel short of breath, tense, unable to focus because you feel overwhelmed. To combat these feelings before they get out of hand, think about healthy outlets to manage the stress and see the difference.

Healthy habits such as adequate sleep, hydration, exercise, strong relationships with family and friends, can help manage stress.

  • Sleep for 8-hours: sleep deprivation effects your ability to concentrate, creates hormonal imbalances that regulate your metabolism, and prevents cell restoration. Getting a good night's sleep means you can feel energized and even gain a fresh perspective.

  • Make time for a workout: a natural stress relief is exercise because of the post-workout energy high, helping you relieve stress and even prevent depression. The bonus is that exercise helps regulate your sleep as well. For me, spin class helps me sweat it out and I come back to the office from my lunchtime workout feeling energized, refreshed, and like I gave something to myself. Not into hardcore workouts? Try stretching, taking a walk, or yoga. Studies show that people that take breaks are MORE productive at work.

  • Relaxation rituals help buffer the workday stress: Try reading a book/magazine, listening to a podcast or music, knitting, or crossword puzzle at the end of the day. I ride a commuter train to/from work and this alone time helps me unwind and detach from the office stresses. By the time I walk in the door at home, my mind is free and clear to quality time with my husband.

  • Prioritize and simplify: evaluate the stressful situation to identify the critical issues and how they are dependent or related. From there, you can simplify and prioritize steps to take next so you can make a plan to tackle the challenge. Map these steps to a timeline and find way to simplify so you can do more with less effort and time. You may need to ask your coworkers or friends for help.

  • Spend time and hug a loved one: make time for a coffee chat, phone call, or dinner visit to laugh and feel connected to someone else. Humans respond positively to human contact. A genuine hug, laugh, or conversation goes a long way to make you feel like you can get through the stress.

The bottom line is that your health can suffer from the effects of long-term stress. Balancing a healthy lifestyle is among the best ways to combat the stress.

Now, tell me some of your healthy stress relief tips.

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