Did I get your attention? Well good, that’s the point. We always hear that stress is bad for our health, and quite frankly it’s not a feeling I enjoy having. Please enlighten me if you ever hear someone say, “Ah! What’s a great day! I’m so stressed out that it took me twenty minutes to figure out how to brush my teeth!”
Now while you may agree that stress isn’t good, do you actually know how bad it is for you? According to the Cleveland Clinic, uncontrolled stress can result in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk for heart disease, our nation’s #1 killer. On top of that, some of the ways people handle stress can create additional damage and heart disease risk such as excessive alcohol and tobacco use, over eating, or under eating, and other unhealthy habits.
A little scary right? Don’t stress our about it (har, har) …well because that would be a never ending cycle. A little stress here and there is not going to cause damage to your health, and a little stress can help motivate you. It is the uncontrolled chronic stress that leads to problems. Here’s a few ways the three ways that I keep my stress levels in line. I call it the 3 “ize”.
My type-A personality already sets me up to enjoy organizing. Not that I have a color coordinated closet and alphabetically ordered movie and book collection or anything. Staying organized helps me find what I’m looking for easily when I need it. Nothing drives me more crazy than trying to find that piece of paper that I KNOW I put in the third drawer on the right side of my desk directly under the May issue of Food Network magazine and finding that it is not there, but somehow ended up under the laundry basket in my closet. How does that happen?! Now I’m not saying you have to be as OCD as I am, but staying organized can help you manage stress by keeping things together such as bills, homework, pairs of yoga pants, etc. If this is something new for you, try organizing one area at a time such as your desk, dresser, or closet. It is amazing how just a small bit of organization can lift a great weight of stress off your shoulders.
Once you have organizing under your belt, you are now free to move on to the next step in my stress-less self help transition. Prioritizing. Once again, my OCD kicks in to my daily habits which results in list making. For just about everything. Grocery list. Recipe list. List of things to do this day, week, month, year. List of lists I need to make. You get my point, but making a list helps me to prioritize the things I need to do which makes tasks a lot more manageable. You may have a list of 20 things you need to do today, but breaking it apart into the things that need to be done immediately and the things that can wait is a lot less daunting than thinking “I need to get all of this done RIGHT NOW.” Sometimes all I need to reduce my stress is the simple act of physically crossing something off my ‘to do” list. There is nothing more gratifying than scratching a big ol’ line through a project on paper. Even if it’s as simple as “make my bed” or “make a list”, you’d be amazed how accomplished you will feel.
Now you know I couldn’t do an edition of “Workout Wednesdays” without mentioning the e-word, did you?! Yes, believe it or not exercise is one of the mighty and powerful stress relievers. And a lot cheaper than medication, therapy, or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream. Because it’s totally FREE. If you own a pair of sneakers, or even if you don’t you can exercise for free.
Get up and go for a walk. Do body-weight exercises such as push-ups, jumping jacks, and lunges in your living room. There is no better feeling I get than after going for a run or getting a good sweat session in. Stress is probably the last thing on my mind, and the tasks at hand seem the size of a pin head. Exercise releases those “feel good” hormones called, endorphins which your body’s own form of painkillers, and also help to improve the ability to sleep and concentration. Even if it is just 5 minutes a day, that is 5 minutes than can help keep you stress-free and healthy!
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If Elle Woods says it’s true then it MUST be. That’s my two cents on how to de-stress in three easy steps. Now light a candle, make a list (check it twice), and do some jumping jacks!
Do you find yourself stressed out a lot?
What ways do you help manage stress?