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Raise your hand if you want to relieve stress at work?

The ringing phones, constant emails, and important meetings can easily create stress at work.

However, you can relieve stress at work with natural remedies you bring with you and keep in your desk.

It’s easy to control the stress in your life by making simple changes at work.

If you start feeling stressed on the job, try these solutions to relieve stress at work. 
  1. Replace your soda or coffee with a water bottle.

    A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine from Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine compounds stress. Caffeine causes the body to release more stress hormones while changing how the mind perceives issues.You can enhance the flavor of your water with pieces of fruit like blueberries or lemon. Powdered water enhancers in a variety of flavors from grocery stores offer another way to change the taste, so the sodas won’t be as tempting. 

  1. Use essential oils to improve your mood and decrease stress.

    Inhaling essential oils is a powerful way to enhance your well-being and relieve stress at work. They are easy to store in an office desk and can be used throughout the day.  Lavender, chamomile, and lemon essential oils are commonly used to improve the mood. 

  1. Sprinkle herbs on your lunch at work.

    Herbs can affect emotions, so adding the right ingredients to your food can help relieve stress. A couple of small bottles of herbs can be stored in your desk. Then you can use them during lunchtime every day to relieve stress at work.

  • Cardamom is a popular spice that can relieve stress by increasing the antioxidants in the body. It’s frequently used in Indian dishes, and it can be added to many meals.
  • Lemon balm increases calmness and alertness. According to the study, “Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm),” this powerful herb decreases stress by reducing anxiety.
  • Holy basil is part of the mint family, and it’s another herb capable of reducing stress. It’s not the same as the common basil added to pasta dishes or tomato sauces. Holy basil has antioxidant qualities which improve the mood.
  1. Use herbal teas to soothe your mind.

    Avoid the caffeine and stress that comes with coffee by choosing herbal teas. There are decaffeinated versions available in a variety of flavors.

  • Native Americans used Passionflower for its medicinal properties, and it’s a strong stress reducer. Passionflower tea tastes mild and pleasant.
  • Chamomile tea is a popular choice because it increases relaxation and is able to decrease anxiety. This is my herbal tea of choice.  It works wonders to help me relieve stress at work and feel better all day.
  • Green tea soothes the nerves with its antioxidant and L-theanine content. L-theanine is an amino acid linked to stress relief. Studies show it can change brain waves in a positive way.
  1. Add stress relieving objects to your desk.

    Offices are bland and boring, but desk decorations can add a touch of home and quick mental escape. They’re a fun distraction which is capable of cutting down the stress at work.

  • Zen gardens are often compared to toys, but they’re actually an ancient technique for relieving stress. Raking sand, organizing stones, and shaping the gardens clears the mind.
  • Newton’s cradles are popular desk objects. However, the cradles offer more than a study of the law of conservation of momentum. They help relax the mind and improve focus.

Try these natural remedies to relieve stress at work.

You’ll calm your nerves and lighten your mood.

The post Want to Relieve Stress at Work to Feel Better All Day? appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Wondering how to have more patience to zap stress?  You’re not alone.

From fast food to instant contact via email and Smartphones.  Fact is, we are surrounded with products and services that provide instant gratification.

But there are two  drawback to all of this instant service.

  1. It can lead to unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others.
  2. It also destroys our capacity for patience.

Unrealistic expectations = More stress!

On the other hand, learning how to have more patience helps us reduce chronic stress and overwhelm in life.

Most of us are familiar with the frustration that begins to grow inside of us whenever we have to wait – for anything. (And I mean…anything!!  Myself included).

Over time, this frustration causes our stress levels to build and can lead to a short temper along with increased blood pressure!

Are you starting to see the importance of learning how to have more patience?

Try these methods to learn how to have more patience and reduce stress.
  1. Take a step back.

    The next time that you feel frustrated over a delay or other situation, do this.  Try taking a step back and looking at the issue from a different angle. It took me some time to learn to do this, but it’s crucial for anyone who want to learn how to have more patience.

  • Stewing over the circumstances isn’t helpful to anyone. Focusing on finding a solution helps your brain change gears so that you feel less stressed. It’s also easier to remain patient when you believe that a resolution is on the horizon.
  • Obstacles come in many forms. It could be physical circumstances that prevent us from moving forward. Or it could be intangible circumstances and external influences that can cause delays. Regardless of the circumstances, try looking at all aspects of the situation.  That’s the best way to find a solution that helps you get past the obstacle.
  1. Focus on what you’ve achieved.

    Many of us naturally begin to feel impatient if we’re making slow progress towards our goals. (I am GUILTY of this big time!!!)  Rather than thinking about what you haven’t accomplished so far and how far you have to go, focus on the progress that you have made.

  • Maintain your motivation and build your patience by celebrating small victories as you work towards the fulfillment of your goal.
  • Do gentle exercises that focus on stretching and breathing.  Yoga, Tai chi, or meditation could be good choices. Stretching and deep breathing help you to remain calm and patient as you work towards a goal.
  1. Set realistic expectations.

    Sometimes we become impatient with ourselves and others because we have unrealistic expectations. The next time you start to stress over a delay or other obstacle, try to be more flexible with your schedule and expectations. Consider a range of results or behaviors that would be acceptable to you.

  1. Identify your triggers and develop a plan to remain calm.

    Everyone has certain triggers – people, places, or things – that make them feel impatient and stressed. Figure out your most common triggers.  Once you identify them, think of ways that would help you successfully cope with them.

  1. Laughter is the best medicine.

    Learn to laugh at little delays and frustrations. Make up a joke about some aspect of the situation and enjoy a chuckle. You’ll feel your stress begin to melt away.

As you use these tips to build your patience and reduce your stress, you’ll learn how to pick your battles wisely.  You will also learn how to maintain your self-control in the face of delays and unexpected events.

Life is too short!  You are too blessed to be stressed!

Learn how to have more patience to reduce chronic stress using the 5 tips above.

If I did it, I know you can do it too!

The post How to Have More Patience & Relieve Chronic Stress appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Stressful, challenging times can make it more difficult for you to find gratitude in your heart.  But finding gratitude in hard times is important.

Hard times can make you turn to anger or resentment.

However, you can still show gratitude despite challenging issues in your life.

Tips for Finding Gratitude in Hard Times 
  1. Search for the positive.

    You may be going through a stressful or difficult period in your life, but it shouldn’t stop you from seeing positive things and finding gratitude in hard times.

    • What are the positive areas in your life that aren’t being affected by your current challenges? Do you still have your home and health? Do you still have a job that provides for your family?
    • By focusing on the positive aspects of your life, you’ll find areas in which you can still feel thankful.
  2. Treasure the small details.

    It’s easy to lose sight of the small details if you’re overwhelmed by a difficult situation at home or at work. However, if you learn to treasure the details, you’ll welcome gratitude back into your life.

    • Are you happy with a new paint color at home? Are you proud of a small project at work? Did you finish a long book? These small details can make a big difference in your gratitude levels.
    • You can show your appreciation for the little things by making a list of everything that needs your love.
  3. Search for joy.

    It’s important to add joy to your daily schedule. Watch a comedy, read a comic book, or share jokes with friends. Add laughter to your routine.

    • Laughter can help you notice the areas that need gratitude in your life.
    • Joy can help you feel appreciation toward your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
  4. Put your pain in perspective.

    Make it a point to avoid getting lost in the negative emotions of your challenges by looking at others. That’s a really practical way of finding gratitude in hard times.

    • If you can put your pain in perspective, you’ll discover that there are others who have even more challenges than you. If you’re worried about your house, job, or health, think about those who have even less.
    • Perspective can help you understand that everyone faces difficult challenges. You’re not alone, and you can still feel grateful for other things in your life.
  5. Understand the power of change.

    Change is a regular part of existence, but when you’re struggling, you might feel as if your life will never change. That makes finding gratitude in hard times much more difficult than it needs to be.

    • Remind yourself that changes occur all the time, and change can lead to gratitude.
    • You can show your gratitude by recognizing that changes occur and can lead to better things. If you feel trapped and stagnant, keep in mind that a transformation is possible. It may take time, friends, a supportive network, effort, and perseverance, but you’ll get past your difficult situation.

Your ability to find gratitude doesn’t have to be limited during challenges. 

Search for the positive areas in your life, even as you struggle in other areas.

Remember that you’re not alone and that everything changes.

Soon, you’ll find yourself feeling the gratitude that you seem to have lost.

Finding gratitude in hard times does require effort, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Try these simple ways to practice gratitude, starting today!

The post Need Help Finding Gratitude in Hard Times? appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Deep breathing for stress reduction is often cited as an important tool for stress relief.

It can help you to immediately alleviate stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger.

Yet, many women have difficulty practicing deep breathing for stress reduction for two reasons.

  1. They don’t believe that it’ll help or
  2. They try once and then don’t try again.

However, as is true for many other things, when it comes to deep breathing for stress reduction: practice makes perfect.

The more you get into a routine of practicing deep breathing for stress reduction, the better you’ll become at doing it. 

That will give you the ability to reduce stress, anger, and frustration easier than before.

Why do breathing exercises work to relax our bodies and minds?

The body has two systems within the nervous system: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system.

Both of these systems contribute to the reasons why deep breathing for stress reduction can calm us down.

Find out how the nature of our physiological systems contributes to the positive effects.

The Fight or Flight Response

Our biological systems have a natural ability to react during times of stress.  This is especially so  in  situations where we’re facing a huge threat. As a matter of survival, humans have always had this ability.

In response to any threat, our body activates the Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response, or FFF reaction.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the physical sensations we get when we feel stress, anxiety, or severe anger and frustration.

These can include sweaty palms, increasing heart rate, and faster breathing.

The activation of the FFF response is preparing our bodies to either run, fight the threat, or freeze.

21st Century Perceived Threats

The problem with the activation of the Fight or Flight Response is that it can be activated whenever we perceive that we’re up against a threat – whether we really are facing a threat or not.

Even though we experience negative situations in our lives, this does not necessarily make them a threat to our physical well-being.

Here are several modern day situations that qualify as “perceived threats” that trigger the FFF response.

  1. Difficult personal relationships
  2. Stressful work responsibilities such as deadlines, work overload,
  3. Verbal arguments with others and inter-personal conflict
  4. Bad news about your health or the health of loved ones
  5. Financial difficulties, job loss, job insecurity.

Truth is, all of these situations may be emotionally hurtful or painful.  However, our body’s nervous system may interpret them as physically threatening.

As such, our bodies activate the natural FFF response to get us ready to fight or run away.

How To Trigger the Opposite Reaction

We have to tell our biological systems that the situations we’re facing don’t require a fight or flight response.   We do that by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system produces the opposite response to the FFF, causing a relaxation response instead.

One other important aspect of the Fight or Flight Response is the way that it diverts your blood flow.

To prepare you to fight or to get ready to run from a perceived threat, blood is diverted away from the brain to the extremities in the body.  Specifically, blood is diverted to the arms, legs, hands, and feet.

Deep Breathing For Stress Reduction Reverses This Process

Breathing exercises send the blood supplies back from the extremities (since we’re not concerned with running or fighting) to where it matters most.  Where?  The areas of the brain that allow us to think, reason, and problem solve.

This is why breathing exercises work to calm us when we experience acute stress, anger, or frustration. Blood is returning to the brain and it becomes easier for us to think. 

How to Practice Deep Breathing For Stress Relief

There are several ways in which you can practice deep breathing to relax both your body and mind.

The simplest way to practice deep breathing in times of stress or anger is to:
  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Tense your whole body for four seconds while inhaling deeply.
  3. Then exhale slowly.
  4. Repeating this three or four times can take you back to a state of relaxation and calm.

The body’s natural ability to fight or flee from a perceived threat has been useful throughout the ages and is still useful today.

However, reversing the process through breathing exercises is important.  It places you in a better position to think more clearly and reason about the stress or issue that you’re facing.

The post Do You Do Deep Breathing for Stress Reduction? appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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You’ve probably heard of progressive muscle relaxation for stress (PMR) even if you’re not sure how to go about it. After all, it does have a long history.

An American doctor named Edmund Jacobson published his first book about the concept in 1929 after noticing that physical relaxation helped his patients to feel calmer.

Since then, advocates of PMR have been using the technique to enjoy a wide range of physical and mental health benefits.

If you’d like to try a simple, safe, and natural relaxation method, progressive muscle relaxation for stress may be for you. Learn more about PMR and what it can do for you.

Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Stress:
  1. Relieve stress. Anxiety and stress can make your muscles stiffen, and that can leave you feeling more tense. Progressive muscle relaxation for stress helps to reverse the cycle, because your mind calms down when your body loosens up.
  2. Treat insomnia. Progressive muscle relaxation for stress can be very effective for helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Plus, unlike many medications, it has no harmful side effects.
  3. Manage chronic pain. PMR has had some success with various conditions, especially with relieving chronic pain. Other uses include lowering blood pressure and enhancing digestion.
  4. Connect with your body. One of the main advantages of progressive muscle relaxation for stress is that it helps you to listen to your body. That means you can notice symptoms faster and respond more quickly.
How to Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Stress:
  1. Master the basics. PMR involves deliberately tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups. You squeeze each group for about 5 seconds as tightly as you can without causing pain or cramps. Then, you completely relax the muscles.
  2. Learn the sequence. Individual instructions may vary slightly. Generally, you start with your hands and arms. Then you work downwards from your head to your feet. As you become more experienced, you may sometimes want to do shorter sessions targeting a single muscle group that is particularly stiff.
  3. Monitor your breath. For maximum results, match your movements to your breath. Inhale as you tense your muscles and exhale as you release them.
  4. Slow down. Give yourself time to notice the difference between how your muscles feel when they’re bunched up compared to when they’re relaxed. So pause for about 20 seconds in between each muscle group. Also, give yourself a few minutes of stillness at the end of your session.
  5. Listen to a recording. You may find it helpful to follow a recording to guide you through the sequence and pace your movements, especially when you’re just starting out.
  6. Avoid distractions. Pick a quiet and comfortable place to do your PMR. You can sit or lie down. Close your eyes or turn down the lights.
  7. Talk with your doctor. While PMR is safe for most adults and children, there are some concerns you may want to discuss with your doctor, such as any previous muscle injuries.
Other Natural Relaxation Methods:
  1. Meditate daily. Meditation is another way to calm your body and mind. Start out by observing your breath for a few minutes at a time.
  2. Practice visualization. PIcture a setting that you find soothing and refreshing. Imagine walking on a sandy beach or sitting in a green meadow.
  3. Do yoga or Tai Chi. If you prefer more activity, do yoga or Tai Chi.  Invest  in a  Tai Chi Dvd or watch videos online.
  4. Try art therapy. If you’re the creative type, you may want to explore art therapy. Pick up a zentangle book at amazon or search for a one at your local library or book store.

Progressive muscle relaxation for stress is easy to learn.

Fortunately, it only requires about 15 minutes of practice a day to see noticeable results.

Put it to work for you, and watch stress and tension disappear.

The post Do You Need Progressive Muscle Relaxation For Stress? appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Do you know the dangers of chronic stress?

Truth: chronic stress can kill you, or at least too much of it can.

If unchecked and un-managed, the constant exposure to stress can wreak havoc in all aspects of your life.

We all agree that being overloaded isn’t a good feeling in general.  But uncontrolled stress can also have ripple effects in your personal and professional lives, at work and at home.

Two real dangers of chronic stress:
  1. Immune System. Both chronic and acute stress can weaken your immune system, putting you more at risk for everyday illnesses.

Individuals who manage their stress well have fewer bouts with the common cold, allergies, and seasonal flu.

  1. Other Health Risks. Exposure to stress, especially uncontrolled stress, takes a toll physiologically on your body.
    • Certain chemicals, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and other neurotransmitters are released during times of stress. You may experience higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, and other symptoms when you’re stressed.
    • High stress levels have been linked with many health challenges and illnesses. You are at a greater risk for strokes, heart attacks, headaches and migraines, and other cardiovascular diseases if you don’t have a system in place for dealing with and managing stress.
    • Cancer has even been linked with uncontrolled stress in some research studies.
What Would YOUR Life be like Without Chronic Stress?

By now, you should start to see some of the dangers of chronic stress.

Hopefully, you are starting to see why it’s important to examine the stressors in your daily life.  But you can’t stop there.

Once you identify the source(s) of your chronic stress you have to work towards eliminating some of the issues.

Have an effective stress management plan will make you feel better overall, in both your physical and mental health.

Here are just a few of the benefits of reducing chronic stress: 
  • More energy
  • Less physical pain,
  • Better and more quality of sleep because your mind won’t be preoccupied with stress.
  • Better concentration and focus
  • Calmer mood, and less irritability.

Without chronic stress you will also have lower rates of depression, less adjustment disorders, and fewer emotional and mental health issues.

The Simple Secret to Managing Your Stress – Put Yourself First!

Since you have read this far, you understand more about the dangers of chronic stress.

Some women feel that dealing with stress is part of their job, is that how you feel?

If you feel that you just “deal” with it, or that you work well under pressure, then you are doing more harm to yourself than good.

Many employers, institutions and organizations today recognize the dangers of chronic stress. They realize that it affects productivity and profitability.  That’s why they offer “wellness plans,” and team-building workshops as part of human resources

Do You Need A Personalized Plan?

There are all sorts of ways to get your stress under control.

But the best way for you to get your stress down is by designing a plan that is individually tailored to you and your schedule.

Simple stress-reducing practices to include in your customized stress management plan:

  1. Meditation and mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness have a positive effect on our stress level and our ability to manage stress.
    • These practices involve setting aside at least five or ten minutes each day to spend in a quiet space, free of distractions. Try zentangling and watch your stress melt away. Zentangling (R) is an easy-to-learn method of pattern drawing that reduces stress while promoting creativity.   A  basic zentangle kit is all you need for meditation, relaxation, inspiration and…fun!
    • Paying attention to your body’s natural breathing patterns is an important part of these practices. Focus on your breath and alleviate your stress.
  2. Exercise is also a way to de-stress. The release of endorphins to your brain acts as a buffer against stress, and is almost like a natural antidepressant.

Whether you go for a daily walk (like I do) or take a trip to the gym, the physical activity is good for both your brain and body.

The most important part of any personalized stress management plan is establishing a routine.

Set aside a specific portion of your day, even if you have to schedule breaks in your work day.  That’s the best way to ensure that you’re giving yourself the time you need to de-stress.

For instance, I schedule my daily walk for 6 AM every day (except weekends).  I schedule lunch with my mom for 2 PM every day (including weekends). I schedule time with my best friend and for volunteer work every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday!  But I also schedule alone time, and downtime for every Saturday 4pm!

If you take the dangers of chronic stress serious, you got to act, NOW!

You cannot get rid of stress by just reading about it.  If you don’t get your chronic stress under control, your physical, mental, and overall well-being WILL suffer.

Start reducing your chronic stress today with a regular routine of meditation, mindfulness, time with friends/family, alone time and exercise.

Soon, you’ll be singing the praises of your practices as you see your stress melt away and you enjoy greater health.

It’s easier than you think…once you are motivated, determined and disciplined!

The post The Real Dangers of Chronic Stress and How to Reduce It appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Walking offers many health benefits, including walking for stress reduction.

In fact, walking is one of the few activities where you can double your impact.

First,  you can use it as formal exercise.  Second, you can also focus on incorporating more steps into your daily routine.  That’s how smart women use walking for stress reduction.

Although you’ve probably been walking since you were a child, you can learn new techniques that will help you burn even more calories.

Take a look at these ideas to use walking for stress reduction.

Walking workouts for stress reduction:
  1. Speed it up.

    Depending on your fitness level, you can burn about 65 to 100 calories for each mile you walk. If you move faster, you’ll burn more calories covering the same distance. That’s a really powerful work out that will send stress packing.

  2. Vary the pace.

    Studies also show that interval training is an effective way to slash stress AND burn more calories. I call it POWER walking. Simply alternate between periods of walking briskly and strolling at a more moderate pace. 

  3. Check your posture.

    To move efficiently and avoid injuries, ensure you’re using proper form when walking for stress reduction. It’s usually safer to take more steps rather than trying to lengthen your stride.

         Check that your heels hit the ground first, and use your toes to push you forward. Engage your core muscles to              take pressure off your back.

You definitely do not want to get any injuries, which would cause more stress instead of less.

  1. Use your arms.

    Swinging your arms will also increase the intensity. If you want to add props, try walking poles or hand weights.

         I also use ankle weights to add that extra intensity to when walking for stress reduction.  It sends my “feel                     good” hormones through the roof hacking stress down to its roots.

  1. Go backwards.

    For an extra challenge try walking backwards in a safe area. This is awesome, trust me.  It works the muscles really well and makes me feel like I am conquering the world!  (Literally).

        Climbing up hills is another great option too.  I make sure to include some uphill climbing on my route when                walking for stress reduction.

  1. Hit the beach.

    Just changing surface can power up your workout. Traveling across sand (or snow if that’s all you got) requires more energy than walking on smooth pavement.

Since I live in the Caribbean walking in the sand id a great option…as soon as the sand comes back after the last           two super hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean (Irma and Maria).

  1. Listen to music.

    Playing your favorite tunes can make any workout seem like less effort. Put together a lively soundtrack that will motivate you to keep going while walking for stress reduction.

  2. Dress comfortably.

    You can buy shoes designed specifically for walking or just choose any pair with low heels and firm support. Dressing in protective layers will also help you deal with cold or wet weather. 

Since I walk early in the morning, I always wear a jacket and a hat…just in-case I am greeted with (unexpected)           morning showers!

  1. Find a buddy.

    While I usually walk alone very early in the morning, walking with others can be fun. Invite family and friends along or join a local hiking group. If you have a dog, you have a companion who would love to join you on your walk. Every morning I pass one lady and her dog on my walking route.  They BOTH seem to be enjoying the walk.

  2. Talk with your doctor.

    Even though walking is a generally safe and low-impact activity, you may want to check with your doctor if you’ve been sedentary for a while. Your physician can help you set goals that are realistic for you.

Incidental Walking for Stress Reduction:
  1. Take the stairs.

    Skip the elevator and escalators. This is an easy way to add more steps to your walking goal without even thinking. Best of all, climbing up stairs burns almost 2 calories for each 10 steps, so you manage your weight too!

  2. Park further away.

    Walk or bike to work if possible. If the distance is too far or there’s no safe route, you can still choose a parking space that will enable you to squeeze in a brief walk before arriving at the office.

  3. Schedule work breaks.

    Pause every half hour to stretch and move around. You could also make it a habit to use the restrooms and copy machines on the next floor instead of the ones by your desk.

  4. Stand and dial.

    Think about how many minutes you spend talking on the phone each day. You can easily spend a lot more time on your feet if you pace around while you’re checking on your children, friends or reaching out to clients.

Walking for stress reduction is so simple, and yet there are so many health benefits of walking.  Walking does so much for your mental health, your physical health, and your overall well-being.

In addition to keeping stress under control, walking helps you burn more calories and get in shape, strengthen your muscles and condition your heart with each extra step you take.

Make walking for stress reduction a regular part of your daily routine and watch your stress melt away!

The post Smart Women Use Walking for Stress Reduction! appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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Do you know the 7 foods that fight stress?  Do you eat any of them regularly?

It’s no secret that many women turn to food as a means of comfort when they feel stressed out.

Fortunately, that can be good news because food can keep you calm when you’re under pressure.

Before you get carried away, though, just know that fried chicken or mac and cheese are NOT one of the 7 foods that fight stress!  ( Sorry!:-))

That type of eating will lead to anxiety and guilt.

On the other hand, there are 7 foods that fight stress masterfully.   These foods help reduce stress and boost your levels of happiness!

Your diet can help you fight stress!

Foods Types That Can Help Fight Stress
  • High in Fiber, Rich in Carbohydrates

Serotonin is a hormone that contributes to relaxation.

Additionally, according to researchers from MIT (On Brain Serotonin, Carb Craving, Obesity And Depression, Wurtman) carbohydrates are believed to trigger it.

NOTE:  remember, there are healthy sources of carbs.

Fiber is great for satiating hunger and should help you avoid any junk food binges (particularly late at night).

If you want healthy comfort foods that help reduce stress then turn to minestrone soup and baked sweet potatoes. 

  • Fruits and Vegetables

Sometimes there is just nothing better than a giant veggie platter to indulge in.  Thankfully, veggies come with many health benefits (excluding that ranch dressing, of course).

Chronic stress destroys your immune system and makes it difficult to ward off disease. That’s why it’s important to boost your intake of immunity supporting foods, including citrus fruits, carrots, and acorn squash.

Those are all good foods that can reduce stress because all are good sources of vitamins and minerals.  Exactly what you need MOST to help bust stress.

7 Foods That Fight Stress
  • Leafy Greens

Folate rich foods (like spinach) help produce dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate your mood.

Those who consume high levels of folate reduce their risk of depression.

Spinach is also rich in magnesium.

Too little magnesium can cause fatigue and headaches, which makes stress worse.

If you hate spinach, you can opt for salmon or cooked soybeans instead, both of which are high in magnesium.

I love spinach and salmon!  Those are a staple part of my diet and help me reduce stress.  They rank high on my list of 7 foods that fight stress!

  • Fermented Foods

According to Harvard Medical School Health Publications, there is a direct link between gut health and anxiety, stress, and depression.

The good bacteria heavily influence your brain chemistry and the signals that your brain receives from the vagus nerve.

Regularly eating lactobacillus rhamnosus can reduce your stress levels thus relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.

You can enjoy fermented foods from the supermarket or make your own (which would be the wiser option) whether you prefer yogurt or fermented vegetables.

  • Oatmeal

According to WebMD, a warm bowl of oatmeal is comforting, and boosts serotonin, which is a calming brain chemical.

This is my go-to breakfast every week-day morning.  I sprinkle flaxeed, pumkin seeds and raisins on top! It’s so good AND it helps me reduce stress too!

  • Oranges

WebMd further reports that the vitamin C in oranges can curb stress hormones and also boosts immunity.

One study found that levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone returned to normal in people who received vitamin C following a stressful task. 

  • Blueberries

WebMD reports that the pigment that makes blueberries blue is anthocyanin.

They don’t just make your berries dark, though, they also boost dopamine production in the brain.  As  we know it’s crucial for your mood, coordination, and memory function.

Blueberries are old school superfoods. I LOVE them in a smoothie with banana and chia seeds!  Perfect for breakfast on the go! 

  • Avocado

This healthy fat can also brag a wealth of nutrients (including folate, potassium, the vitamin B complex, and Vitamin E, too).

For stress, it gives you plenty of potassium, which helps reduce high blood pressure.

Eating half of one at lunch is enough to help you avoid unnecessary snacking between meals.

That doesn’t mean eating only that for lunch, rather in addition to your normal lunch.

They’re also efficient at keeping blood sugar levels stable, which then keeps your mood level (even when you’re under stress). 

  • Pistachios

Pistachios are good for reducing vascular constriction, which is a typical occurrence during stressful situations.

This reduces the pressure on your heart and helps manage stress.

It isn’t just the contents of the nut either; it’s the very act of shelling the pistachios that can be therapeutic.  Just remember to always choose organic nuts.

3 Foods That Make Stress Worse
  • High Fat

Cheeses, meats, and a lot of baked goods will leave you feeling lethargic.

Unhealthy fats thicken the blood, increase the risk of heart attack, and contribute to stress. Choose lean proteins. 

  • Caffeine

Caffeine can provide a necessary energy boost. However, indulging too much will only fuel sleepless nights and cause you even greater stress.

While you may be downing your third or fourth cup of the day, there’s still caffeine in your system from the previous two.

Learn to limit your intake by cutting off the supply after 2 pm.  This will reduce any jitters you could experience and should help you get a better night’s sleep.

  • Sugar

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that causes crashes since it quickly floods the blood stream and then leaves just as fast.

So, remember when choosing your carbohydrates to opt for the complex variety (like beans and lentils).

Clearly, diet and stress are linked!

Not only will making bad food choices fuel stress, but making the right food choices can help relieve stress and alleviate healthy symptoms.

The post Make These 7 Foods That Fight Stress Part of Your Diet! appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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We all know how stress makes us feel- that is easy to explain, but do you know the things stress can do your body?

How much do you know about what stress can do to your body?

Do you realize what actually happens to the organs and systems in your body as a result of chronic stress?

Many women don’t realize what stress does to their bodies.

As a matter of fact, physical changes do not need to occur- only chemical processes.

In any event,  it is good to get a “visualization” of what is going on inside your body when you are under constant, chronic stress.

Knowledge is power.

Knowing what stress does to the body will help you get a deeper understanding of the dangerous effects of chronic as well as the importance of finding healthy ways to combat it.

Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Heart and Blood Vessels

The heart is a muscle in the purest sense of word.

A healthy heart has very little fat, and is extremely efficient, contracting like clockwork for the duration of your entire life.

However, stress hormones change all this.

For one, stress hormones make the heart beat much faster, partially in response to the stimulating action of these hormones.

Another reason is because blood vessels are constricted.

To understand this, think of a water pump.

You can use a thin ½ inch pipe to supply water, or a large 1-inch sized type.

When using the ½ inch size, the pump needs to work harder to push the same volume of water.  And it would take forever.

Similarly, when your blood vessels are constricted by chronic stress, your heart has to work much harder.

You heart has to maintain a quota to ensure your cells don’t die from oxygen starvation.

Things Stress Can Do Your Body: Digestive System

Do you feel “butterflies” in your stomach when you are under stress or anxiety?  Or maybe you find it difficult to hold your food- or bowels during stressful periods?

This is directly the result of stress hormones.

In short, the stomach produces more acid under stress, which either helps speed digestion (and the desires to empty your bowels) or acid reflux and heartburn.

This is why stomach ulcers are more frequent in women who are under high stress on a longer term basis.

Also, in the intestines, since food seems to move faster than usual, nutrient deficiencies can occur, along with diarrhea.

Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Respiratory System

Respiration is tied intimately to our circulatory system.

In part that explains why during exercise your heart pumps faster and you breath faster.

This is because blood needs oxygen.

In most people this is fine, and not a problem, but in asthmatics or those with pulmonary disease it can kill you.

Stress can precipitate asthma attacks, or constriction of the airways making it difficult to breathe.

Hyperventilation is also common, and a characteristic of a panic attack (or insensitivity to adrenalin).

Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Reproductive System

Nothing wrecks a sex life like stress, as millions can testify to.

This isn’t just psychological, however, but also physical.

In women, chronic stress triggers menstrual cycle disturbances occur.  This can cause painful periods or wildly fluctuating hormone levels throughout the month.

In men, chronic stress interferes with a man’s ability to achieve and maintain erections.

Things Stress Can Do Your Body: Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands are those body parts (some of them organs) that produce hormones. In short, those hormones are deposited into the body’s blood stream.

These include the adrenal glands, the liver and pancreas for example.

The adrenal glands are forced to produce more cortisol and adrenalin- the two key stress hormones.

In response to this, the liver may begin releasing stored glycogen in the form of glucose, to tend to your seemingly agitated state.

Similarly, the pancreas may also begin producing more insulin.

If the stressful situation resolves, everything goes back to normal.  However, if the stressful event continues day in and day out, your body continues to break down!

Furthermore, stress is very bad for diabetics, pre-diabetics or anyone who has sensitivity issues to glucose.

For that group, not all that circulating sugar goes back into storage, and instead is free to pick trouble.

Now that you know what stress can do to your body, are you ready to take action to reduce the stress in your life?

You can’t get rid of stress by just reading about it!  Effective stress management requires ACTION!

Here are two easy action steps you can take right now to reduce stress:

  1. Grab our FREE guide : 50 simple stress management activities
  2. Join our Facebook support group for women with chronic stress.

The post 5 Bad Things Stress Can Do Your Body! appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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If you’re a woman living in the 21st century, your world is full of stressors and using unhealthy ways to deal with stress  is NOT the answer.

While a short burst of stress here and there is normal and a part of life, chronic stress is a whole other matter.

Exposure to long-term stress can alter your genes and increase inflammation in the body.

Furthermore, chronic stress can cause a wide variety of serious health issues that affect the body and mind.

Learning how to cope with stress in healthy ways is vital to reducing and managing stress.

However, some chronically stressed women use unhealthy ways to deal with stress.  

Generally speaking, many may not even realize that they are doing so.

Avoid These Unhealthy Ways to Deal with Stress
  1. Vices

For the purposes of this list, vices include drinking, smoking, and general substance abuse, including prescription drugs.

Let’s be clear: none of those unhealthy ways to deal with stress do anything to actually alleviate stress levels.

Usually when you’re under stress it may seem like that extra drink (slice of cake, or cigarette)  is relaxing you and making you feel better.  But… it’s not.

Unfortunately, unhealthy ways to deal with stress ONLY  provide  temporary relief!

In short, once it wears off you will need another hit to get that state back.

It’s more than that, though, these habits have a serious impact on your long-term health.

In fact, unhealthy ways to deal with stress increase your risk of depression, anxiety, and a host of physical diseases.

According to one study, (Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction;

Rajita Sinha) women with chronic stress are at greater risk of addiction.

Falling into a cycle of unhealthy ways to deal with stress does nothing to alleviate stress.

As shown above it will only cause more problems, and more problems will mean…MORE stress, not less.   

  1. Denying There Is A Problem

Denial is not an effective stress management tool.

In fact it will cause more harm than good because ignoring your stress only makes it worse.

Managing it is the only way to properly get it under control.

There’s a difference between taking a mental health time out and avoiding stress.

You take a mental time-out by indulging in a funny movie, sharing your stresses in an online support group,  or meeting friends for lunch.  Those are all effective ways to cope with stress.

On the other hand, you avoiding your stress by denying that it exists and carrying on as if everything is normal.  That’s one of the bad ways to deal with stress

If you ignore the issues then you won’t process them, nor will you understand why or what you are actually dealing with.

The longer you ignore it the greater the issue will get, whether it’s the emotional fear of relationship issues or a financial issue like a late credit card bill.

The best way to handle this type of situation is by putting a plan in place and acting on it to relieve your stress. 

  1. Stress Eating

Food often serves as a crutch.

Similar to the vices we mentioned above, stress eating may provide you with relief initially.  Unfortunately, it can spiral out of control quickly.

This happens because  your mind (and your body) starts to associate eating with the negative emotions you experience (because that’s when you indulge) so you’re intensifying those emotions.

Do you reach for a snack every time you experience a bit of sadness, anger, or stress?

What will the result be? In one word, weight gain.

Emotional eating can:

  1. Trigger eight gain and obesity,
  2. Increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and
  3. Cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues. 

If you are a stress eater, read this post about how to stop stress eating when things get stressful.

  1. Feeding The Negativity

Let me ask you this, are you the type of person that panics about losing your job after you make a small mistake?

Do you meltdown over fights with your partner worried that you’ve triggered the end of your relationship?

Lots of women immediately think of the worst-case scenario when they are experiencing particularly upsetting event.

However,  you only intensify your stress levels when you blow things out of proportion.

When you feel stressed out it’s easier to look through a negative lens and feed negative self-talk.

Remedy this by changing your tone with yourself.

Start adjusting your self-talk to a tone you would use with a close friend going through the struggles.

Sadly, we are often MUCH harder on ourselves than we would be with a friend.

But shouldn’t we be our own BEST friend?! 

  1. Compulsive Spending

When you are chronically stressed, you feel that there’s a void inside you that needs filling.

Unfortunately, some women make the mistake of filling it with retail therapy.

On the one hand, a small pick-me-up gift for yourself can be a soothing stress relief source of stress relief.

On the other hand, spending money on things that you don’t need or have the money to afford increase stress.

There’s a stark difference between the two!  Do you see it?

Compulsive spending increases financial difficulties, which is another stressor that will only fuel your stress. 

  1. Going Into Hibernation

Ever felt like building a fort of pillows and blankets to hide behind?

I’ve actually tried it during some of the most stressful periods in my life.  So I can tell you from experience that it’s not the most effective way to handle stress. But I think you already know that!

You may feel like you need to catch up on sleep but oversleeping can just fuel your exhaustion.

In fact, according to one study, (The Risks of Sleeping “Too Much”) there’s a link between oversleeping and a high BMI.

Of course, high BMI increases risks of diabetes, and heart disease.

All in all, this exacerbates the stress you are already experiencing.

Other Unhealthy Ways to Deal with Stress
  1. Self-criticizing
  2. Angry or violent outbursts and abuse of others
  3. Not eating
  4. Yelling at co-workers, employees, kids, spouse or friends
  5. Social isolation
  6. Using recreational drugs or abusing mood altering prescription medication

The choice is yours!

Instead of choosing the 12 unhealthy ways to deal with stress above, why not choose these 7 healthy and effective ways instead!

The post Are You Using These Unhealthy Ways To Deal With Stress? appeared first on Stress Management Activities.

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