Stress is hard to avoid in today’s busy world. People are working harder and longer, and getting less time to disengage and find a quiet moment to relax. Symptoms of stress vary, but people who are stressed sleep less and are more irritable. Life becomes less pleasurable overall. Worse, it’s a vicious circle. As symptoms mount up, so does stress, until your ability to think clearly is compromised and you both work and home life suffer. Here are five ways to beat stress and get your life back on track.
1. Budgeting. It may not sound like a stress-reliever, but financial pressure and lack of time is a major cause of stress. Stop juggling. Sit down and write out a comprehensive budget with a schedule to get bills paid, budget how much you can spend on fluid bills like groceries, and identify areas where you can make changes. I saved more than $120 a month on my electric bill AND kept my house cooler by turning off the dryer and putting up a clothesline. You can bet that was a satisfying stress reliever. I also budget my time. Otherwise, work rules my life. The more stressed I feel, the less efficiently I work. So limiting my work hours and scheduling breaktime allows me to get everything done and still have a life.
2. Exercise. If you worked more efficiently and were less distracted, would you be able to work fewer hours? For most of us, it’s true. I start my morning with a brisk walk in a beautiful park. A thirty minute walk leaves me feeling energized, refreshed, and completely alert. Just as a bonus, exercise gives you a lasting sense of self-satisfaction. When I start to flag about 2 PM, I go for another little walk. Ten minutes at a leisurely pace really jumpstarts my afternoon. Exercise is cumulative, so every step you take during the course of the day adds up to a healthy total and sunlight stimulates production of seratonin and vitamin D.
3. Healthy diet. Another casualty of a stress-filled life is often a healthy diet. People on the go make choices that are convenient, but not always good. Typical results of a bad diet are digestive problems, weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Beef up your diet by adding seaweed and walnuts for extra omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants, and by adding lentils for folate (most people don’t get enough), mushrooms for selenium, and sugar beets for betaine, folate, and uridine. All these nutrients affect the brain in a positive way to improve on your mood, memory functions, processing speed, and reflexes.
4. Visualization. You’ve seen it used in commercials, like Almond Joy’s palm trees erupting out of a cubicle and Corona’s mental beach getaways. Meditation doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just find a quiet spot, clear your mind, and relax your body and mind whenever stress starts to build up. If it helps, put on some soothing music or white noise. My happy place is the ocean…I close my eyes and hear the waves, smell the salt air, feel the ocean breeze, and find the calmness at my center.
5. Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is simply using aromatic oils derived from plants to help you relax and feel more content. Aromatherapy scents are commonly available for diffusers that lightly scent the air, and in body lotions, bath salts, and other personal toiletries.
An article in the International Journal of Neuroscience, Aromatherapy Positively Affects Mood, Eeg Patterns of Alertness and Math Computations details a scientific study proving that rosemary and lavender oils affect mood and performance. Both are mood enhancers, but lavender is relaxing and rosemary made study participants more alert. Each group experienced lowered anxiety.