After a lay off, a move, distracting illness and trying to start over professionally, I have maxed out my stress threshold. I have found that the best thing to do is to start from ground zero and rebuild my stress reducing routines. It can be difficult to regroup when stress starts affecting your health. The worst part is, many people don’t realize what a large role stress plays. I have compiled the following list that worked for me.
1) Listen to more music! - Music, whether it’s classical, rock, jazz or heavy metal, is always good for the soul. Put the iPod in the docking station and turn it up. Switch on your favorite radio station and kick back. It doesn’t matter how, or where, you listen, as long as you enjoy it.
2) Take a relaxing bath or shower – Girls, get your bubbles or salts, a magazine and a glass of wine. Guys, turn up the heat and stand under the water at full blast. Personally, I take the time to use a special facial scrub, take off any old nail polish, get the fruit scented soaps, lotions and shave gels and I take a long shower with hot water. I even take the time for extra conditioner in my hair. Warmer water can loosen tight muscles and the steam can open your pores. Taking your time and focusing on taking care of yourself will really take the stress out of a long day.
3) Treat yourself to a heat and/or massage item – There are loads of relaxation tools out there, so find one that suits your needs. Foot pillows, eye masks and massage seats are all great purchases. My favorite is a pillow that heats up in the microwave and wraps around the neck. It removes all the tension that I collect in my neck and shoulders.
4) Read the funnies - It doesn’t matter if it’s in the newspaper or a book of your favorite Sunday comics. Calvin and Hobbes always puts a smile on my face. And the fact that it is a comic strip takes me back to happy memories of my parents reading the newspaper while all of the kids passed the comics secion around.
5) Watch a funny movie – I’m not talking about a random chuckle or two. I want you to get the movie that makes you laugh for at least half of the running time. The more laughs the better. Laughter has been proven to have positive effects on your body.
6) Start a hobby or a project – My husband loves to fish and hunt, and whether you knit, scrapbook, or build model cars, a hobby can be very relaxing and a great escape from the every day pressures. As for me, I haven’t found one particular hobby that holds my interest, however, a new home holds many exciting ideas for projects.
7) Get regular exercise – If you are like me, even the word exercise is enough to turn your stomach. I HATE exercise. Sadly, though, I have to admit, it has made a significant improvement in my health. There are so many different ways to work out, you are bound to find something you like eventually. Just keep trying until you find it. Mix it up, try different styles. Most of all, stick with it. I promise, it gets easier after a while!
8) Keep your diet in check – Look, I am the last person to tell anyone to stay away from chocolate. All I am saying is be smart. Moderation is your friend. Control your portions. You can still fill your stomach without overfilling. And guess what? Fruits and vegetables really can be good. Who knew?
9) Enjoy some family photos - You might not be like me; I take photos of every occasion, get-together and for no reason at all. However, whether you have 20 or 2000 photos, it’s nice to take a minute to walk down memory lane and remember some good times you’ve had. For maximum benefits, look through them with a friend or family member, too!
10) Count to 10 – When things get hectic and it seems that you are snapping at every little thing, it’s time to rethink your reactions. It’s time to stop overreacting. Take 10 seconds before responding to anything when you feel ready to yell or freak out. Your kids spills a full bowl of cereal and milk and you are ready to scream at how careless they are. Stop, breathe and think. There’s a better response in you somewhere. You can scold if it was intentional, but be rational. And if it was accidental, have them help you clean it up and show them how to be more careful.
Even if you only use one or two of these suggestions, be sure to get the most out of them. Stress can create havoc in your life and body. Keep it together and take care of yourself.