By Debra Staton, Wellness Coordinator for the Arkansas Health Network
Anxiety and stress can play havoc on our physical & emotional well-being. Stress affects us dramatically, so it is imperative to find ways to cope when we are faced with mental and emotional strain.
Eat Balanced Meal
It is easy to throw nutrition out the window when we are stressed, but poor digestion can make us feel worse; therefore, adding to our stress.
- Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains & lean protein
- Stay away from processed foods
- Eat smaller amounts throughout the day
- Choose healthy un-refined carbohydrates
- Limit simple carbs, such as cookies, cakes, white pasta & bread
Exercise increases your overall health and sense of well-being. The production of endorphins are increased during this time, and this is why we call it the “feel-good” neurotransmitter in our brain. You don’t have to work out at the gym to reap the benefits of exercise.
- Stretching: Use the 30/30 rules – stand up every 30 minutes and stretch for 30 seconds. You will be amazed how you can re-focus!
- Squats (proper form is essential…never let your knees go out over your toes) Squats are an excellent workout for the core.
- Pushups & crunches
- Jump rope (always have it handy beside your desk)
- Take a brisk walk outdoors when weather permits
- Sign up for a virtual class online
- YouTube videos
It is important to be aware of what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is a way of teaching us how to respond to stress with what is happening in the moment.
- Accept the events you cannot control.
- Take control of your own actions
- Don’t forget to breathe
- Become aware of every breath you take
Slowly take deep breaths in and out. Use visualization imagery to help you relax. If possible, do the breathing exercises for 5 to 10 minutes.
Close your eyes…Visualize yourself at your favorite vacation spot. (Let’s try the beach sitting in a beach chair)
- Imagine your body sinking down into the chair. Feel the warmth of the sand on your feet
- Let go of the tension…start with the top of your head and go all the way down to your toes
- Continue to breathe
- Deep breathing exercises
- Get comfortable in your chair
- Breathe in through your nose & out through your mouth
- Count to five while breathing in and count to five while breathing out
Repeat this exercise several times.
Take a break
Walk away for a moment and remove yourself from the stressful situation. Another option is to take a brisk walk outside in the fresh air. Or, call a family member or friend.
When you are stressed, it is easy to become sleep deprived; thus, adding to our anxiety and stress level.
Relaxation techniques can help with stress before sleep. Try guided imagery visualization, along with breathing exercises to help with stress and better sleep.
Read a book, listen to music, and take a warm bath/shower.
Laughter really is the best medicine! It has so many benefits:
- Boosts the immune system
- Makes it easier to deal with difficult situations
- Helps improve your mood
- Helps your muscles relax
- Improves circulation