Healthy Resolution: Managing Stress

by Denise Austin | Jan 26 2019 | Lifestyle

Are you feeling stressed out? If so, you aren’t alone – according to a recent Gallup News Poll, 79% of Americans feel stressed out sometimes or frequently during their day – and 44% frequently feel stressed! We all experience stress, and some stress is actually good for us, helping us react to situations in a positive way.  But unhealthy stress – where stress is a constant reaction to daily life – is not healthy… it can result in serious, long-term consequences. Because it weakens your immune system, stress can make you more vulnerable to colds and can cause wounds to heal more slowly. Research has found that stress-related diseases include depression, hypertension, atherosclerosis, ulcers, colitis and reproductive dysfunction. It is utmost important to manage stress to have a healthy life.

Chronic stress can also affect your quality of life – think about when you are stressed out, do you tend to only focus on what is causing the stress, and take less time to enjoy the good things happening? Do you tend to snap at people instead of listening and reacting in a calm fashion? Over time these reactions can snowball, to where you just aren’t enjoying life. The good news is simple changes can make a BIG difference! My Stop The Clock Workout Plan has a section devoted to women’s health, and stress is one of the topics I cover… And two of the most important ways I like to address unhealthy stress is through exercise and breathing!

  1. Exercise to manage stress. Research confirms what dedicated exercisers like me have known for years: Working out can help reduce the physical effects of daily stress! Whether the exercise is a peppy jog or a soothing yoga routine, it will release mood boosting hormones called endorphins that help chase away your worries. Whenever I feel myself getting anxious – the airline lost my bag, or the heating system has gone on the fritz again – I try to force myself to take a break. I do some neck exercises, or I stand and do some stretches. Better yet, I head outside and take a quick walk. Physical movement takes your mind off problems and also gives your muscles a workout… Plus it it seems to instantly transform a bad mood into a good one. That’s the beauty of exercise – it’s good for you in so many ways!
  2. Breathing to manage stress. No doubt about it, breathing exercises are a great way to instantly address your physical and mental state when you feel stressed out. We always hear people say to take a deep breath during stressful moments. But how exactly do you do this? Begin by standing or sitting up straight. Make sure your legs are not crossed. If you can, close your eyes slightly. Focus your mind on the back of your throat and inhale slowly and deeply. Try to visualize your breath moving down your throat, into your lungs and further down into your belly. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly exhale. Reverse the visualization of the are leaving your belly, your lungs and then your mouth. Make sure your exhale lasts as long as your inhale. Repeat until you feel a sense of equilibrium, balance and calm beginning to return.

My Stop The Clock Workout Plan covers a variety of breathing exercises – some to help manage stress, some to give you renewed energy – so you can help to promote overall wellbeing.

Remember – you DON’T have to live with chronic stress! Start with the two suggestions above, and then check in with your doctor for other options if you are not feeling a shift in your mood. It may take a little time, but managing your stress is doable!

Let’s get fitter, together – inside and out,

Denise

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