Stress. In today’s culture, more than ever before, it affects everyone. Whether your job is driving you crazy, your romantic life has got you in knots or your unending questions about life in general are causing your mind to twirl faster than your washer’s spin cycle (and for a whole lot longer at a clip), you know that it’s got to stop — but you can’t imagine how to make that happen. Your health has even been affected. You find yourself tired, exhausted even, and you know you don’t feel the same as you used to, but you’re too busy to do anything about it — or so you think!
The good news is you’re not alone. Millions of people let stress damage their well being. The great news is, you’re not actually too busy to fix the problem. These five simple suggestions take very little time from your schedule but do a lot to take the edge off your elevated stress levels. Put them to use and in turn, you’ll feel better — inside and out!
The Sunny Side of Life
While we all know that too much sun (particularly on unprotected skin) can be detrimental to your health, science has recently shown that not getting enough sun can be just as bad! Prostate Cancer and MS have recently been linked to Vitamin D deficiency — something that can be solved by getting out of the office (or the living room) and into the Sun.
Whether it’s half an hour at lunch or part of your weekend afternoon, make an effort to get more sun! In addition to the Vitamin D factor, exposing yourself more often will just make you feel better. Consider that the flowers and trees can’t grow without the sun’s rays. What makes you think you’re any different?
You Are What You Eat
It’s an old saying, but it’s true. In fact, recent science proves it! So if you’re one of those super busy types who thinks that fast food is all you can squeeze in, think again! A balanced diet is key to lowered stress levels. Not only that, what you eat directly impacts your emotions on a daily basis!
“You can manipulate your mood and your mental acuity just by what you eat and when, and the effects can happen very quickly,” Dr. Judith Wurtman, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food tells MSN. If you’re feeling blah, consider upping your good carb intake.
“Eating carbohydrates had a profound and dramatic effect in improving mood,” Wurtman said. “I’m talking about anger, irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating, mental fuzziness. We found that you could reverse those mood changes with carbohydrate-rich foods, in about 30 minutes.”
But before you go reaching for cream cheese or peanut butter to pile onto that wheat bagel, consider that fatty-foods combined with carbs inhibit your digestion and reduce that “feel-good response” according to MSN. And Wurtman says protein is best for those facing longer periods of mental strain.
Whatever your individual needs are, make smart choices for your quick pick-me-up foods and you will see the difference.
Don’t Stay Chained to a Desk!
Days spent in an office in front of a computer will make even the sunniest healthy eaters irritable. To avoid the dreaded desk job doldrums, try getting up more often throughout the day. Take walks around the office every two hours or so if you can, and if not, try to get in some activity where you sit. Sure, you may feel a little silly rolling your shoulders back in your office, but what you actually are is smart! Science has proven the mind-body connection is a real and vital part of health, and if your mind and spirit are in need of rejuvenation, there’s no better way to get it than to get the blood flowing in your body!
It’s so simple we take it for granted. After all, as we all learned in grammar school science, breathing is involuntary — it’s not like we’ll stop ’til we’re dead. While that may be true, it’s not whether we breathe that’s the problem. It’s how we breathe.
When was the last time you took a good, long, deep breath and let the air really fill your lungs? By becoming aware of your breath — drawing it in through your nose and letting it flow out evenly (through your nose or your mouth), you will do a lot to increase your energy. Skeptical? Consider that breath brings oxygen to your blood and by breathing more consciously and more deeply you increase blood flow to your extremities. Make sense now?
Breathe more consciously — more effectively — and you will notice a shift in your consciousness levels, energy and general mood.
Learn to Say No
Oh, this is a hard one, particularly if like so many of us, you’re a people pleaser. But the simple truth is that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and if you’re trying, you’re no doubt failing to please yourself! Make it a practice to say yes only when you can truly deliver — without burning the candle at both ends. It may seem hard when you start (you don’t want to let anyone down, after all), but you’ll find that you’re doing a much better job at the things you commit to wholeheartedly than you were when you had more to do and less to give to each task. Believe it or not, you’ll make a much more lasting impression as well. Instead of frazzled or moody (or holding it all in), you’ll be seen as someone who is practical, even-tempered and reliable, not to mention that you’ll feel a lot less stressed when you’re not overloaded with commitments you can’t really keep!
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