Let’s face it. Stress is inescapable. Even for someone who has a great job, happily married, has many interests and hobbies. A lot of my Fort Collins personal training clients are always complaining that they don’t have enough time, not enough money and not enough energy. Constant stress is not a healthy companion. Read on to discover ten easy ways to bring your stress level out of the red zone and into the zone of Zen.
1. Breathe! Research shows that most Americans breathe from their chests, not their bellies. Deep breathing is an almost instant stress reliever (there’s a reason people with anger issues practice taking ten deep breaths when tempers flare). Relax. Breathe deeply through your nose, out through your mouth. Place both hands on your belly. Watch them rise and fall with each breath. If you don’t see your hands moving, your deep breathing needs work.
2. Laugh! It’s as easy as that. Whoever said that laughter was the best medicine was really on to something. Watch your favorite comic online, call that trusty friend with a wicked sense of humor, pop in Season 1 of 30 Rock, whatever it takes. Laugh freely and your blood pressure will drop. And when I am working with my fitness clients in Fort Collins, we have a lot of fun in the personal training sessions.
3. Sleep! Research shows that, as a rule, Americans are sleep-deprived. Without proper sleep (at least 7 hours), our brains get fuzzy, we become more easily frustrated, are more apt to lose our tempers and of course feel increasingly stressed. Log off of the computer, turn off the television, and try hitting the sack to get at least 7 hours of restful sleep. Your body (and brain) will thank you. Also, don’t forget that your early morning personal training session will go a lot better if you are properly rested.
4. Get a life! Get passionate about something. Find a hobby you love. Revisit the activities of your childhood. Investigate local charities and invest your time, energy, and money into one or more of them. Ironically, giving of oneself often takes the focus from you and on to others.
5. Exercise! You’re breathing deeply, laughing, sleeping soundly, and volunteering once a month at Habitat for Humanity. What’s next? Get into an exercise habit. Physical exertion translates into even more sleep, a clearer head and a sense of accomplishment. As a Fort Collins personal trainer, I can’t stress enough how exercising will give you that extra edge.
6. Write all of this good stuff down! Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to de-stress. Put your feelings (the good, the bad, and the ugly) down on paper or into a personal blog. Writing at night, especially after a particularly stressful day, brings healthy closure. Express yourself freely. No self-censorship.
7. Eat right! If you’re already stressed, diets high in sugar and sodium sure aren’t going to help. Stress affects us physiologically; heartbeats increase, blood pressures rise. Don’t add insult to injury. Eating junk food, upping your caffeine intake and choosing food loaded with additives, hydrogenated fats, dyes and salt only serve to weaken your already stressed immune system. Choose organic, local and seasonal foods whenever possible. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Drink water. Give your body what it needs. Also, eating right will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
8. Accept what you can’t change and move on. This one is a tall order. But we can go ahead and accept this universal truth-we are not in control. With this admission we decrease our stress level. If you can manage to stop your chronic worrying, your stress also ceases.
9. Say hello to a stranger. You smile; they smile. It feels good-like a breath of fresh air. And it’s contagious.
10. Change your inner dialogue tape. You know the one. “You’re no good.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “Everyone knows you’re a fraud.” When you think positive, your brain hears you. Retrain your brain. Positive thinkers don’t worry. No worries, no stress.