5 Ways to Fight Stress

We're all aware of the effects of stress. We hear about it on the news, see it in magazines, and even witness it first hand on friends, family, and even ourselves. As life continues to speed up and responsibilities pile up it's inevitable that stress goes up. So, here are five creative and healthy ways to take the sting out of stress.

  1. Stay Hydrated - as we become hyper focused on a problem or situation our body adjusts, slowing digestion, curbing appetite, and increasing blood flow to areas of importance. For very brief periods that's fine, but going an entire day or even long hours without water, can effect normal body functions. In turn, this can lead to a whole slew of additional problems like: lowered immune functions, muscle fatigue, and headaches to name a few. Drinking PLENTY of water allows our systems to function in their optimal ranges which helps us FEEL better. So, put down the coffee, soda, and alcohol when you’re stressed and pick up some water!!
  2. Stay FlexibleStay Flexible - when we're stressed our bodies tend to "lock in". That means we start holding unnecessary tension in our muscles. By taking time to engage in activities like Yoga, Thai Chi, or Chi Gong we gently release that tension while simultaneously shifting gears mentally which reduces the risk of returning to that "locked in" state.
  3. Stay Creative - our bodies respond to the direction the brain leads them. That means, if you're amped up dealing with tense issues mentally, your body will respond by being tense physically. Again, this leads to both mental and physical fatigue. So, take a break from the problem solving process and engage the creative process. Pick up a paint brush or some wood working tools; sit down at the piano and play or write music; create a new page for your photo album, just do something that stimulates the creative process. This will divert the mind and require you to work different muscles thus reducing or eliminating the mental and/or physical fatigue.
  4. Stay in Touch - most of the people I know, myself included, pile on one responsibility after another until you reach the point that you wake up with a to do list and you go to bed with an even longer one for tomorrow because you didn't complete everything on today's list. So you wake up already feeling behind and playing catch up, which raises the level of mental tension and fatigue. That in turn decreases our productivity making us feel even more behind, leading to more tension and so on and so on. So, step out of your world and get back in touch. Re-examine your list and check it against your priorities. Make sure that you're handling the most pressing issues first and letting the much less important ones fall down on the list. Get friends and family involved. It's a great way to stay connected to those you care about while simultaneously fulfilling your responsibilities. And last but not least, be thankful for what you do have. The mere fact that you have worries also means you have things to be thankful for.  Feed on the positive and let the negative fade away.
  5. Stay Still - life is in constant motion and we often struggle just to keep up. The thought of being still seems counterintuitive when there's always so much that needs to be done. However, taking time to be still will actually enhance our ability to complete our responsibilities. Slowing down the mind and focusing on deep full breaths allows us to refocus mentally while oxygenating our bodies and lowering our blood pressure. So, make an effort to find a quiet spot at least once a day, and for 15 minutes close your eyes, take deep breaths, and meditate. You'll be surprised at just how productive you can be.