YOU SHOULD CHILL OUT!
Are you feeling stressed – and the holidays aren’t even here yet? When Halloween decorations appear in September, and Thanksgiving decorations are on the shelves before Halloween, can the rest of the holidays be far behind? Many people get stressed this time of year, and that’s not always a good thing, even though a little stress can be beneficial. We’re here to help you chill, de-stress and learn when to say that enough is enough.
WE CAN’T STRESS IT ENOUGH …
According to the National Institutes of Health, stress is a normal brain reaction that occurs when something changes. They can be little changes, such as unexpected road construction that makes you late for an appointment. They can also be big changes like losing a job, divorce or a major illness. In some cases they can be extreme changes such as a war time experience, natural disaster or other life-threatening event.
When changes happen, hormones are released that prepare you to “fight or flight” so you may face a threat or find safety. Your pulse quickens, your brain uses more oxygen and in the short term you are more prepared to handle anything. That’s a good stress reaction.
Sometimes however, there is chronic stress. Joblessness, depression, PTSD, long-term illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and other factors can lead to permanent ongoing stress. Chronic stress is bad stress and it can lead to poor health. Your immune system is compromised and other bodily systems stop working normally.
Some of these chronic conditions can’t be stopped or cured – MS for example – and so it is important to learn how to deal with the stress to lessen its impact.
13 LUCKY WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS
You don’t need a chill pill to chill out! Try one or more of these 13 tips and see if you can get your stress under wraps.
- Treat what you can. If you’ve got depression, or PTSD, get help. Talking to your doctor is a good place to start.
- Accept what you can’t treat. If you can’t fix something, accept it. Avoid dwelling on problems. If you can’t do it on your own, seek help from a qualified mental health professional.
- Chew gum. Really. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress.
- Go outside. Being outside, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. If you’re doing something active, like walking or biking or mowing the lawn, you get the added benefit of exercise.
- Smile. Even if a well-meaning friend advises you to ”snap out of it,” and you’d instead like to “snap back at them,” try smiling instead. When you’re tense, a smile reduces your body’s stress responses. Even if you don’t feel happy, a smile (that uses both your eye muscles and your mouth muscles) will help.
- Lavender. The scent is soothing for some reason. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t felt more stressed.
- Music. You may prefer upbeat music, however soothing music may help you more. In one study, cortisol (a stress hormone) was reduced when people listened to a recording of Latin choral music. A recording of rippling water or ocean waves could also work.
- Breathe. Borrow a meditation technique and breathe deeply while focusing only on your breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. Do this for 10 minutes.
- Talk to yourself. This may sound crazy, but it works. Pretend you’re a child and talk yourself out of your worrisome tantrum using soothing, gentle phrases. Be compassionate with yourself. “Don’t worry dude. You got this.”
- Write. Many people journal for a variety of reasons. When you’re in a stressful time, try writing down everything that you’re worrying as soon as you wake up. Write till you have nothing more to write (three pages most often). By the time you’re done writing, you will have released much of the negative energy and stress. You got rid of it by putting it down on paper.
- Ask for help. You could talk to a friend, a spiritual advisor, a medical professional or a wise and trusted adult. You’ll feel less alone.
- Set priorities. Decide what you must do, and what can wait. Avoid taking on new tasks until you’re at a manageable activity level so you don’t remain in work/task overload.
- Take care of your body. This means sleeping at least seven hours, eating well and getting 30 minutes of some form of movement (walking) each day.