Stress Relievers


I'm actually in a pretty decent place right now, having just returned from a much needed vacation (thanks to Sharon for launching this week's posts in my absence!), but if you're in a less favorable midweek zone, check out these stress relief tips from Jules:

"When I was in social work school, I had a professor tell me a secret “quick fix” to lose my stress. The trick? Smile. I know, I know, who can smile when you feel like crying? But, trust me, this works. I do it most when my road rage gets me, but try it whenever the mood strikes. Count to ten and take a few deep breaths. Now, smile. A great big grin. Go on, no one has to see. Hold the smile for at least thirty seconds. Smiling lowers our blood pressure and reduces endorphins, both changes that can be felt right away. You should notice that after you pause for a moment to smile, you really will feel better (even if it’s because you’re laughing at how silly you feel!). Smiling is contagious, so be sure to share the wealth.
Smiling away your stress may seem very simple, but stress is a complex and significant contributor to health risks like hypertension. Stress often makes communication with loved ones and home life difficult. Here are a few more quick fixes for stress relief:

  • Take 5. Take five minutes to separate yourself from the stressor. Leave yourself a few minutes in the day to rest for a few minutes, collect your thoughts, and take a few deep breaths. Be mindful of your breathing, paying attention that the breaths come from the diaphragm and are full and deep.

  • Rub yourself the right way. In just 30 seconds, you can rub your temples in a circular motion, resulting in a quick fix for tension. Rubbing these nerves in your temples will help release some stress in your head and neck.

  • Stretch it out. If you have a few more minutes, indulge in a stretch. Stretching is good for our muscles, but it also releases your tension. Women tend to carry our stress in our neck and shoulders, so be sure to roll your neck and shake out your shoulders.

  • Talk to yourself. It’s true. Self-affirmation has been proven to help people regain character strength, composure, and confidence. If you feel silly talking to yourself in a mirror, just take a few minutes a day to yourself and think (either aloud or internally) about the things you do well. Recite these items and acknowledge that you are proud for accomplishing them.

  • Drop and give me 20. Exercise gets the heart pumping and releases our natural endorphins, resulting in a slight euphoric feeling. This is what we commonly hear referred to as, “the runner’s high,” but it is possible to experience it without actually going for a run. Do some jumping jacks or take a brisk walk from the parking lot to the store. Being outside is especially good for you when you’re moving around: it’s been shown that vitamin D is a natural mood enhancer. Just don’t forget your sunblock!

  • Visualize. Visualization is a tactic used by many to find success in different arenas. As a collegiate athlete, my coach used to ask us all to close our eyes and visualize ourselves scoring a goal or stealing a ball. This is the same idea. Find a place in your mind that you associate with calmness - a beach, a porch swing, the opera -and be there in your mind. There are tapes sold with nature sounds available to assist you.

    These are all short-term stress relievers, but with good practice and healthy living, you can say goodbye to high stress levels for good. A diet rich with fruits, veggies, and grains will leave you energized, and regular dates with your sneakers will keep you at an even keel. Together, with your mindfulness, physical wellness, and body focus, we can all say sianara to stress."