Yes, it’s stress awareness month again. We all know stress isn’t good for us, but we probably don’t know the effect it’s really having on our body. Stress reduction expert Melissa Heisler says: “When we are stressed our limbic brain takes over, shutting down all body systems which do not help us fight or flee danger. Our digestive, reproductive and immune systems are turned off momentarily to move all our power and energy to our muscles to run or defend ourselves. Once the immediate danger is over, our systems revert back to normal functioning.”
You probably recognize that as the “fight or flight” response you heard about in science class. While the body still responds this way eons after man’s first encounters with stress, the stresses themselves have changed. No longer are they wild animals chasing us up a tree. Today they are a seemingly constant barrage of traffic jams, rushing kids to practice, running late to work, and…you know the others all too well, I’m sure. So the body remains on high alert, in a continuous state of shutting down certain systems to reroute energy to the “danger.” The adrenaline and cortisol never decrease. Our digestive, reproductive and immune systems don’t turned back on and the result is a raft of autoimmune, reproductive, and digestive issues.
Here are a four simple but effective ways to deal with stress repair its effects on our body, too.
Unclutter your space
Researchers at Princeton University found that a cluttered environment is distracting and restricts your ability to focus. It also limits your brain’s ability to process information. To some, even the thought of getting organized, whether it’s home or office, can be stressful in itself. A good way to start de-cluttering is to keep clutter from continuing to build. Be conscious of new clutter you are adding to your space. Don’t set the scissors down on the table when you’re done with them, take the few extra moments necessary to put them away in their proper place when you have finished using it. Open the mail and either file it or dispose of it. Read the newspaper and put it in recycling afterward. If your home is currently overwhelming, you may want to invest in a professional organizer to help get it organized for you. The stress reduction you receive will be well worth the investment.
Take a Break
Don’t sit at the computer for hours on end. Set a timer if need be and get up every 30 minutes to keep your body active. Set a specific time for a break and stick to it. Try a guided meditation CD. When we are stressed, it is hard for us to slow down. While meditation is a very helpful and proven stress reliever, it can be difficult to achieve when we are at the height of our stress. A guided meditation recording is different in that it provides a journey to relaxation engaging our brains with calming visualizations and helping us to relax. These recordings can also be used at bedtime to help us get a good night’s rest.
Write Gratitude List
Start each day on a positive note. Take fifteen minutes to sit and write down 10 things you’re grateful for every day. Write it out in complete sentences. They can be simple things. I am grateful for my dependable automobile that always gets me where I want go. I am grateful for having a job to feed and clothe my family. Think of ten new ones each day and write them down. Look over them periodically and enjoy the good feeling they bring. Important: Don’t start planning your day until you have spent this time on your positive thoughts.
Eat Healthy Foods
Learn about healthy whole foods. When stressed, we usually go for something with sugar, caffeine, or our special “guilty pleasure.” These foods can actually decrease our body’s ability to combat stress. Remember, our body’s systems are already diminished while we are in our stress-induced “fight or flight” mode. By eating healthy whole foods, like leafy greens, avocado, seeds, and blueberries, we can stabilize our blood sugar and send soothing nourishment to our brain, relaxing and clearing our minds. Check out this Huffington Post article for other stress-reducing foods.
While we may be able to eliminate stress in our lives, we can choose to respond to it differently. Try any of these four tips and relax into a calmer place!
At Freedom Insurance we care about your health. Call us today to find out how we can help you and your family plan a more worry-free life.