To achieve truly superior health, you must learn to reduce stress. Keeping stress at a minimum is often quite a challenge. Therefore, baby step number four is to find ways that work for you to cope with the inevitable stressors in your life.
Here are some methods that have worked for me and my family:
- Devote time to the pursuits that matter to you in life.
- Prioritize your life. Do the most important things first. Delegate anything you can, such as yard work, housekeeping and cooking. How can you delegate these tasks?
- One great way to get out of cooking every night is to double up on the nights you do cook, reserving one meal for the freezer to use on a night when you don't have time to prepare a meal. If you are open to the idea and have friends with similar eating styles, you could also do meal swaps.
- If you have children, it’s a good idea to train them early to help around the house. Taking out the garbage, manicuring the lawn, loading the dishwasher; these are all jobs your children could be helping with.
- Instead of bottling up your emotions or complaining to a 3rd party, if you have a problem with someone, tell the person directly. My therapist advises not to place the blame on the other person and to avoid using blanket terms such as “always” and “never. She recommends expressing your feelings like this: “When you ____ I feel _____” For example: “When you break a promise to me, I feel unimportant”
- Solitude can often be stressful. Keep in touch with your closest friends. Try to make it a point to reach out to others in your circle. I am often surprised by how much just a quick chat with a cheerful cashier at the supermarket can lift my spirits when I am feeling down. Take time to go to coffee with a friend or meet for a quick lunch. I also like to meet my friends in the park or on a greenway for a “walk and talk” therapy session!
- Or maybe you spend too much time engaging in social activities… if your life is so full you are hardly ever home, you might need to cut back on a few activities.
- Another great idea is volunteering, it might sound odd, but giving my time to those who are less fortunate than I am really brings me back to reality and grounds me to what our purpose in life is all about.
- Listen to uplifting podcasts, watch funny shows on TV (but don't go overboard with television!), go to a comedy show or hang out with a funny friend!
- Take small breaks throughout the day to clear your head. Walk away from the desk, computer, or dishes and just close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- If possible schedule a massage once per month to relieve tension. If this is not possible do to financial reasons, consider trading out the favor with your spouse or best friend, hey, my kids can give a great shoulder massage when I need it!
- Don't over exaggerate problems in your head. I have a tendency to do this, it's called making a mountain out of a molehill. Recognize the problem, look for a solution, execute steps to reach a resolution.
- Spend time with the people you love most in life. If you have a family, make an effort to have family meal times as often as possible.
- Take time to express your gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal, or just make it a habit to write one thing you are thankful for on your calendar each day. Remember to express your gratitude to God
- Know that it is ok to say “No” sometimes, when you do say “no” resist the urge to give an explanation as to why. If it is absolutely necessary to give a reason, keep it short and do not be overly apologetic about saying no. Your time is valuable.
- Having routines that are basically “what you do on autopilot” can really help. I do the exact same routine every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed. Even my children follow a bedtime routine. It may alter slightly on occasion due to circumstances, but the majority of time I follow the same routine morning and night.
- Keeping your life goals in mind will really help you to reduce stress levels by you on track. It is so easy to start focusing more on the how than the why, so years ago my oldest children and I started creating “goal boards” or “vision boards” to help us stay focused. Lately, I have even been teaching my younger children how to do this. Click on this link to watch a great video to get you started.
- Use lavender or peppermint essential oils in your home or office instead of chemical fragrances. Not only will using essential oils help you stay calm, but replacing the plug-in type air freshener will reduce the amount of toxins in your environment, helping you to live a healthier lifestyle! It is also beneficial to use coconut oil, try adding a drop or two of lavender oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and massaging it into your arms or shoulders (be careful about getting it on your clothing!)
- Eat a nutritious and well balanced diet. Here are some suggestions:
Super Stress Reducing Foods to Incorporate:
- wild caught salmon
- green leafy veggies
- dark chocolate
- green tea
- granny smith apples
- fermented foods
- nuts and seeds, especially sprouted
Foods to avoid to reduce stress:
- excessive caffeine
- processed foods
- fast foods
What's your favorite way to relax and / or reduce stress?