How To Break Up With Stress: Chill Out

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Someone very dear to me answers the same question the same way almost every time. 

“How are you?” a friend, family member, stranger or acquaintance will say. I am to a point where I would bet good money her answer always is “Oh just busy. So busy!” 

Now this answer is common. This is common for people who work 80+ hour weeks, for stay-at-home moms, for teenagers in high school, college students…even people who sit at home watching TV most of the day will probably answer in a similar way. 

In our culture, we honor over-achievers more than any other trait. We affirm those who are “always busy”, because what is less honorable than being lazy? 

In my opinion, our culture has made busy-ness a life commandment. It is necessary if you want kudos. This life commandment is crap. You can work 80 hour weeks, but when is the last time you walked in the park or read a book (ahem…one you actually WANT to read) and didn’t feel completely guilty? Or spend the time thinking of all the other, more worthwhile, things you COULD be doing instead? 

Now, I am not free of this. I currently have 3 jobs. Busy-ness is my excuse. It is my validation. It feels FANTASTIC to hear the oohs and aahs of my loved ones applauding my hard work. And it is my go-to topic when I play catch up with friends because it allows me to validate my life choices because of their approval. Have I mentioned how dysfunctional this is?!

Let me be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with success. It is crucial to be motivated. But the question here is not about success being wrong or right, it is about how it is used. Do you bury yourself in busy-ness so you feel better about yourself? Are you so worried about cleaning the kitchen and having dinner on the table at 6pm that you haven’t even played with your children? Are you so caught up in work that you don’t even listen to your friends when you go out? Are you so guilty doing anything supposedly “unproductive” that it ruins said thing? 

My recommendation is scheduled you time that is actually relaxing. My personal preference is some form of meditation (and there are many). Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean you sit in silence for two hours. I would hight encourage all of you reading this to look into forms of mediation that fit your personality and needs. Here are some stats on how mediation impacted the workplace…

A Detroit based chemical plant posted the following results three years after implementing meditation:

  • Absenteeism fell by 85%
  • Productivity rose 120%
  • Injuries dropped 70%
  • Profits increased 520%

According to reports, there have been over 1500 separate studies since 1930. All were related to meditation and its effects on the practitioners. Some statistics on people who meditate include results like:

  • Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen consumption are all decreased.
  • Meditators are less anxious and nervous.
  • Meditators were more independent and self-confident
  • People who deliberated daily were less fearful of death.
  • 75% of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
  • Production of the stress hormone Cortisol is greatly decreased, thus making it possible for those people to deal with stress better when it occurs.
  • Women with PMS showed symptom improvements after 5 months of steady daily rumination and reflection.
  • Thickness of the artery walls decreased which effectively lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke by 8% to 15%.
  • Relaxation therapy was helpful in chronic pain patients.
  • 60% of anxiety prone people showed marked improvements in anxiety levels after 6-9 months.

You can read the original article by clicking HERE

So, chill out. Mandate days off. If days aren’t an option, schedule at LEAST 10 hours a week of time you can do you. Breaking up with stress is an option, you just have to decide to make it one. 

If you missed last weeks blog Breaking Up With Stress: Get Moving, you can read it by clicking HERE.
-Ariel


How To Break Up With Stress: Get Moving

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By Ariel Minter

Stress is a hot topic. There are tons of methods and tips for handling it. So, is it even possible to be entirely rid of it? Or is stress that pitiful ex that just won’t leave you alone by passive Facebook posts and tweeting about his great hot new date he had Saturday night? 

I believe that stress is on a scale. Stress is actually an amazing biological release that is telling your body some seriously important messages. (Click HERE for a great guide on stress and how to manage it by Relax Like a Boss blogger John Parrott,) 

Since we live in the age of the iPhone, the stresses Americans faced 100 years ago a significantly different then they are now. And, in my opinion, much more complex and harder to diagnose. This is because we live in a time where we honor approval addicts. We praise perfectionists. Oh, you’ll work a 60 hour week and be extremely motivated and successful? Don’t stop! 

To balance the stress scale and properly manage stress I think the best answer is movement. Now, I know that it isn’t a quick fix magic pill, but it is the quickest fix our body is dying for. However, just a simple walk can feel like a marathon if you have been extremely busy. But I promise you, it will help more than any amount of deep breathing while holding your inner shakra. Here is a small explanation by The Mayo Clinic:

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Read the whole article by clicking HERE.

Not only is any type of exercise going to help manage stress, but it is one of the best things you can do if you are feeling down, lethargic, depressed, or just sad. Now, if you are anything like me, that may be the LAST thing you want to hear about stress or depression management. But if you stick to even the smallest routine (walking on the Green Belt, playing with your children at the park, going for a hike, etc) your body will reward you with deeper sleep, more energy, and feelings of happiness and peace (just to name a few).

Besides, not a whole lot of people remember those nights of sitting on the couch watching TV. But a hike with your honey? Now that will remembered! Test my theory (but consult your doctor first if it has been a while) and I know you’ll feel a difference. 

Now, to all of my fellow couch potatoes, visit our blog next week and we can talk some serious relaxation in How To Break Up With Stress: Chill Out!