Health & Wellness

Stress

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Stress is dangerous and expensive. Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic.

It is clear we cannot keep ignoring our stress. For most people, stress at work is not really going to change, but we can change how we manage our stress.

We’ve all heard the most common advice for managing stress: get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, nourishing foods, try yoga or meditation, etc. The question is, how many of us are actually doing those things? Hopefully you’re trying to get more sleep and exercise while preparing healthy meals, but how many people really do yoga or meditation? I’ve talked with numerous people who say they would be interested in starting yoga or meditation, but live in a place where classes aren’t offered or are cost prohibitive. Sure, online resources can be great, but most people need to start with a real instructor or class. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips for you on that, but I do have some suggestions for other stress relief options.

Laugh

  • Watch a funny movie, go see a comedian, or have family joke-telling time. A few nights ago, Dominik and I were sitting on the couch and I had on these really worn knitted wool socks. They were bunched down around my toes and Dominik said it looked like a sock puppet. I started using my muppet voice while making my sock “talk” and we were rolling with laughter for about 15 minutes. It was surprisingly great for stress relief.

Journal

  • Let your feelings out on paper. Even if you don’t know where to start, just try writing about your day. Include the good and bad things and you might be surprised at how fast your feelings flow.

Music

  • Music has a great impact on our moods. Listen to a favorite CD or create a mix of your favorite “feel good” songs.

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Knit

  • There was recently an article in the New York Times about how excellent knitting is for relieving stress. This can be especially effective for anxiety and has been seen to be as effective as meditation. Don’t know how to knit or crochet? Ask a friend or join a group in your area. There are books that can teach you, but I’ve never found any that are extremely effective at teaching a beginner (if you have a suggestion, please share in the comments).

Crafts

  • Similarly, many crafting activities can also relieve stress. Pick one you enjoy and try it out!

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Color

  • Take yourself back to when you were young and buy a coloring book. They sell adult coloring books at most places or you can order one online (I have this one and this one). Mix it up with colored pencils, crayons, markers, and even watercolor pencils. If you do choose colored pencils, I recommend purchasing an art brand from a craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels. The ones from the regular store (such as Crayola or Rose Art) tend to be shattered inside and you have trouble sharpening them). I love my Staedler pencils, both the regular and watercolor.

Read

  • Pick something light that will help you relax.

Cook

  • This one either works for you or it doesn’t, but many people do find cooking or baking to be very relaxing. For me, the methodical chopping and stirring relaxes my brain and then I have the reward of a tasty dinner. If you enjoy baking, try baking for others and share your treats so you’re not always baking for yourself.

Nature

  • Get outside. Anywhere in nature can be soothing, but you may have some challenges depending on where you live. I’ve always been able to find a greenbelt park nearby, but you might need to get a bit more creative in your area. A nice spot in your backyard can even be enjoyable. Take off your shoes when the weather is warm and walk through the grass barefoot. Go to a nearby park and bike, walk, run, etc. If you live in a wintery area you can go snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or downhill skiing if you aren’t up for a walk or run. We do not get near enough time in nature, so make it a priority this year to get outside and spend some time outdoors. Dominik and I actually purchased a National Park Passport last week so we can visit as many as possible.

There are numerous other strategies to reduce your stress, but here are a few to get you started. The most important thing is that you pick something you will actually do and do it.

What are your top suggestions for relieving stress?

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