Tag Archive | Stress Management

Self Care During Stressful Times

I recently read an article that stated that when women are experiencing financial stress, the first thing they let go of is self-care.  I find this fascinating, as the article stated that men continue to take care of themselves, even when money is tight.

What in our psyches makes us believe that our self-care is the least important thing in our lives?  In reality, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself or anyone else. 

When we take care of ourselves, through eating right, exercise, massage, and participating in activities we enjoy, our stress levels are reduced, thereby making us better wives, mothers, employees, employers, and friends.  When we are managing our stress appropriately, we are less apt to get sick, forget things, or lash out at a loved one.

The tag line for my business is “You are the most important person in your life.  Treat your body right.”  Continue to do the things that help reduce stress, and you will be a better person for it.

Stress Management ~~ Lessons Learned From A Cat

Recently,  I was adopted by a stray cat.  She showed up one day, and never left.  I welcomed her into mu home, and I have been reminded of certain things from having her here.  Cats really know how to manage stress.  Think about it….have you ever seen a cat that was perpetually stressed out?  They have certain routines that help keep their stress to a minimum.

Take Time to Play Every Day:  Cats have fun while exercising their bodies when they run, jump, chase after leaves, and pounce on our feet underneath a blanket.  Spending time doing something we enjoy is an excellent way to manage stress levels, especially if that activity provides us with some exercise.

Stretch regularly:  Have you noticed that when a cat first wakes up, she stretches before she moves on?  Cats are the most flexible beings I have ever encountered.  I know that when I am taking part in a stretching routine on a consistent basis, I feel a lot better, both physically and emotionally.

Spend Time in The Sun: Do you ever notice how cats will find even the tiniest patch of sun to take a nap in?  Sitting in the sun can be extremely relaxing.  The sun’s rays can warm your muscles and calm your mind.  It also has the added benefit of Vitamin D, which is not readily available through food sources. Recent studies suggest that Vitamin D helps protect our cells from stress that can cause cancer.  Of course, you don’t want to spend too much time in the sun without adequate sunscreen.

 Adequate sleep:  When you get the amount of sleep you need, it makes everything else in life a little bit easier.  Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure.   Cats spend a lot of time sleeping.  Do you know many cats with high blood pressure?

Receive Massage:  Cats are all about getting petted.  After all, that is one of the main reasons they allow us humans into their lives.  Cats  enjoy giving and receiving affection.  For humans, petting an animal can reduce blood pressure, and has a calming affect on both us and our pets.  And, like cats, when we get regular massage, our levels of stress decrease immensely.

Bathe Regularly:  While cats might not necessarily like being immersed in a tub of water, they do bathe regularly.  For us humans, soaking in a bath can help reduce stress.  Immersing yourself in a tub of warm water can help pull tension from your muscles.  Add some bath salts, essential oils,  or Epsom Salts for an added benefit. 

Cats are very wise animals. If we all took a little bit of advice from them, we would all be  better off.

Stress Management Tip ~~ A Banana A Day

I just read an article in the newspaper that suggested making banana bread to help reduce stress.  The author’s reasons included the meditative, calming process of cooking, as well as the fact that bananas contain potassium, which helps to reduce stress.

This may work for some folks, if they like to cook.  I can say that some people I know would be taking the batter half way through the recipe and chucking it in the waste basket, because they hate cooking and they find the process stressful in itself.

A better idea might be to eat a banana a day for potassium.  It is said that potassium can help lower blood pressure, prevent and treat heart disease, and regulate the heartrate.  Potassium also works as an anti-stressor by enhancing adrenal function, so increasing potassium intake in anticipation of unusual physical or emotional stress is often recommended.

Some other sources of potassium include potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes, avocadoes, celery, carrots, sunflower seeds, oranges, and yogurt. 

Stress Management Tip – Change the Scenery

Although it is important to establish a routine in our daily lives, it is equally important to have outlets and change up the scenery once in a while.  Whether you are in the same office every day, or take the same route to work, things can become tedious and seemingly mundane.  Making a few changes here and there is good and keeps you from losing sight of the good things in life.  Here are a few you change the scenery in your daily life and improve your mood in the process.

Take a walk

Chances are, like many Americans you drive your car everywhere.  Our world is such a fast-paced place, we always feel the pressure of time upon us and feel the need to rush through everything.  However, it’s very good for us to slow down the pace and gain some perspective from time to time.  Infusing walking into your day is a great way to do this.  Get out during a lunch break and breather in the air.  Enjoy the weather, watch people as they go about their business.  Doing this can greatly help your outlook and reduce stress at the same time.

Go to a park

We spend so much time indoors that we all too often forget about enjoying parks, trails, and other areas available for public use.  Watching children play and seeing families together is quite inspiring and relaxing to watch and helps us to reconsider the things we place importance upon.

Take a long drive

Sometimes, just the feeling of taking a trip is the same as actually going out of town.  If you like driving, go explore some roads you’ve never been down.  Turn the music up, roll the windows down and spend some quality time just driving around.  Although this may not be very cost-effective considering gas prices, the feeling of driving down the open road is something many find relaxing and something many people rarely get the opportunity to do anymore.

Visit friends or family

Make a spontaneous visit and go see someone you really care about.  Often we get too busy to stay in touch with the people who really matter to us, so take some time to physically go visit someone.  Make plans or just drop in, depending upon the schedule of the person.  Visiting with people you have a special bond with can really help put things in perspective.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of massage therapy jobs. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24@gmail.com

Stress Management Tip~~ Deep Breathing

One of the greatest ways to calm yourself down during a stressful moment is to take a few deep breaths.   Often, when we are in the midst of a stressful experience, we either hold our breath, or take short, shallow breaths, as our sypatheric nervous system kicks in (also known as the fight or flight response).  This type of breathing does not allow for proper flow of oxygen throughout our body. 

So what is a true, deep breath?  Many people are unaware that the main muscle involved in breathing is the diaphragm, which sits just below the rib cage.  When we breathe properly, this muscle contracts, pushing down towards our belly, allowing our lungs to fully expand.  When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, pushing up against the lungs, helping to expel air.   

Have you ever watched an infant sleeping?  Do you recall how the baby’s belly expands?  The child is using her diaphragm muscle properly.  Unfortunately, as we age, especially in today’s society, the stresses of the world affect our breathing, and we tend to breather using the uppper portion of our lungs.  Hence, taking in a breath and your chest rises instead of the belly expanding.

Try this:  Lay down flat.  Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly.  Inhale slowly, and see where the breath lands…is it your belly, or your chest?  If you feel your chest rising more than your belly, focus on expanding your belly as you inhale.   It may take some practice before you master this proper breathing technique.

When you notice  your body tensing, take a few minutes to breathe deeply.  It can make a world of difference. 


Stress Management Tip ~~ Take A “Not Sick” Day

When you start to feel overwhelmed with what is going on in your life, take a preventitive health day from work.  Call in, make your excuse, and then spend the rest of the day focused on you, not your work. 

Spend the day doing what you like best…whether it be sleeping, gardening, hiking, watching old movies and eating ice cream, talking with friends…whatever makes you feel good.  Even better…schedule an appointment for a massage!

In my previous work life, I held a position with a lot of responsibility.  When I was at work, I always had a long list of things that needed to get done. Sometimes, I would start to get stressed out with the amount of work that was piling up.  On those days, I would go to my supervisor and tell her I was overwhelmed with work, and that I was going home.  She understood, and would tell me to come back when I was ready.  I would walk home (about 4 miles…I usually rode the bus) and by the time I made it home, I would feel a bit better.  Then, I would usually spend the rest of the day in my flower garden.  I could usually go back to work the next day, refreshed and ready to attack the piles on my desk. (Sometimes I would be decadent and take a second day off as well.)  While this may seem daunting… taking time off means more work to do when you get back…your mindset is different, and it makes it all a lot easier.

These mental health days made it possible for me to be effective in my work. Give it a try.

Stress Management Tip ~~ Hugs are Better than Drugs!

Years ago, I had a friend who had a bumper sticker that read “Hugs Are Better Than Drugs”.  There is such truth in those five words.  Think about it…hugs are free, and they have no bad side effects like drugs do.  The only thing they have in common with drugs is they can be addictive.

In 2003, researchers at the University of North Carolina came to the conclusion that hugs actually can improve your health. The scientists discovered that hugs lower the levels of cortisol in your body, a hormone that is released during stressful moments.  Hugs can lower your blood pressure and decrease your heart rate.  

This research supports my belief that we should give (and therefore receive) a minimum of seven hugs a day.  Hugs that last at least 5 seconds.  Hugs that are “heart to heart”, meaning your chin is on the other person’s left shoulder, and your hearts are touching.  Passing positive energy between your hearts.  Spreading the love, if you will.

So hug your children, your spouse/partner, your parents, and your friends.  You will improve your health, and the health of those around you.