By Sandi Smith
I don’t want to stress you out, but we really do need to do something about our stress levels.
The last survey that came out of the American Psychological Association showed that our kids are getting headaches, having difficulty sleeping, and eating too little or too much due to pressure from school and household finances.The worst part is that the study showed that most parents were not aware of the severity of their children’s stress.
Many adults reported not knowing what to do to change their lifestyle so they could reduce their stress, so it just makes sense to talk about this a little. Here are the most common stress-reducing tasks that some people do, according to the survey:
- Listen to music.
- Exercise or walk.
- Watch TV.
- Spend time with friends or family.
- Surf the internet or play video games.
- Spend time on a hobby.
- Go to church.
- Play sports.
Most of these activities do reduce your stress slightly, and a few are excellent for stress reduction (exercise and spending time with friends and family). Some of them actually increase your stress (watching TV, playing video games, eating, smoking, and drinking even normal amounts).
It’s important to take a big picture perspective to understand stress better. Chronic stress is a negative emotion rooted in fear. It’s your fear system—your fight or flight system designed in cave man days—gone haywire for the 21st century.
When we can get our fear under control, we can get our stress under control too. Here are some tips you might not normally associate with stress, from my latest book “30 Days to a Stress-Free Life: Simple Strategies for Women Who Want Balance, Bliss, and Big Bucks from Their Business.”
- Breathe deeply. Do this several times a day or make a habit of it. When you learn how to really breathe, you’ll be taking a micro-vacation each time you do.
- Set an intention for the day. Do you have a question for the universe? A problem you’re working on at work? A goal you want to achieve? Or even just a theme for the day that you could share as a game with the kids? Set a statement, question, or keyword for the day. As you move through the day, look for things that support your intention. Listen to what your intuition is showing you. Have fun with your theme.
- Be extra polite to wait staff, service people, receptionists, and customer service agents. This act of kindness will help you feel better yourself.
- Learn how to change any catastrophic thinking you might have. This is when your mind thinks, “I’ll never be ___.” “I’m always ___.” Etc.
- Find something in your day that makes you feel awe-inspired.
- Avoid talk radio and loud rock music, especially first thing in the morning and late at night when your brain is extra sensitive. Instead play soft instrumentals, classical, or Reiki music that is calming and nurturing.
- During the 3:00 afternoon blahs at your office, pipe rock music (which is okay at this time) over the sound system or simply turn up your iPod and dance or conga your way around the office.
- Get rid of any clutter in your environment that when you walk by it, your inner nag voice goes off saying you need to do it.
- Connect with a coach, mentor, mastermind, or someone who is a support for you.
- Water your plant and prune its leaves, or stare out the window at a nature scene. Or sit on a park bench and watch the butterflies, birds, babies, or passersby.
- Sing or whistle. At 87 years old, my dad still whistles every day.
- Go to bed earlier (at 10:00 pm).
Try these low-cost ideas to reduce your stress so you can enjoy summer.
©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and wellness expert JJ Virgin is a media personality, in-demand public speaker and best-selling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong and Sculpted Arms. Get her biweekly LEANzine chock full of tips to get you slim and sexy fast at www.jjvirgin.com.