Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stress Reduction 101

Whether you’re a student, professional or stay at home parent, we can all use some tips on stress management.  In this fast-paced, intense world where the work-load often times seems insurmountable, while it’s a good idea to step back and pause for a moment we also need some clear cut advice.  I put together this quick list to help you and help myself when things get a little too crazy to handle.  Sure, we know it’s all about striking a balance- get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy, meditate, exercise and stretch and perform the normal bodily functions we humans were meant to do- but what about some tangible helpful tips?  Here are my TOP 8...

1. Check Check Checkity Check
There is something to say for to-do lists.  Now don’t get me wrong- I find those “to-do-list” people (aka “check-list” people) totally annoying.  They have a little box for everything- the type of guy they’re looking for-check, the type of home they’ll one day buy-check, the type of career their unborn child will one day have-check – ugh.  But, checklists if used properly can be very helpful for stress reduction.  Have a ton of errands to run in the next 2 weeks?  Need to renew your driver’s license, deposit a few checks, send off a birthday and sympathy card, return those pants that are hugging your waist way too tightly and feeling a bit overwhelmed with all these “things to do”?  Use a checklist.   Amazing how visualizing the list makes it so much more tangible and therefore tackle-able!   

2. Set your alarm clock 20 (Ok 15) minutes back
You hate waking up in the morning?  Me too!  It’s like a ridiculous joke when the alarm goes off at 6:30 am.  Not like a haha joke either…but rather a BAHAHAHAHA it’s pitch black outside and this cozy fluffy comforter is sucking me in kind of joke.  You think I’d get used to this after ~30 years of the same.   15 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time but it’s enough to let you actually maybe sit and eat that which you usually toss down your esophagus in the car, on the bus or while in class or on rounds.  And it just may help undo that triple knot in your stomach you get from driving like a psychopath trying to make it to work in time.

3. Stop lying
Amazing how far a little honesty will go in the world of stress reduction.  How many times have you told a totally unnecessary white lie and later stressed- what if he/she sees me here at the CVS when I’m supposed to be at the Rite Aid (over-exaggerated but you catch my drift).  Or even a much larger lie to protect someone you love.  No matter what type of lie and no matter if it's being done for the noblest of intentions, lying can make you virtually ill from stress so don't do it. 

4.  Be nice to you
Make a conscious effort to do something healthy for yourself each and every day.  There is always room for wellness.  Whether it’s having a healthy snack instead of hitting the vending machine…or splurging at the spa for a massage, you owe it to yourself.  Amazing how taking a little care of yourself and making some healthy decisions for you will help elbow that nagging stress out of your life.  

5. Say NO
I don’t mean be a pessimist or be lazy.  I mean if you can’t take on the additional responsibility, then don't.  It’s okay to decline tasks.  You’d love to have that report ready by 5 am tomorrow but you’re swamped and just can’t- maybe someone else can do it?  Or, you are so sorry and would love to volunteer at the Cub Scout meeting but you just can’t- perhaps one of the other moms can do it.  It’s okay.  You need to be healthy and stress-free yourself in order to be well for others. 

6.  Be spontaneous
Surprise your significant other at work.  Show up at the airport to pick up a friend.  Hide a “Have a super day! XOXO” note or a quick hand-drawn cartoon in your kiddo’s lunchbox to give him/her a laugh.  Unexpected displays of affection that warm the hearts of people you love are highly therapeutic. 

7. Forgive
If “To err is human” then there will be a whole lot of “erring” going on until the end of time.  Learn to forgive others for their mistakes.  Not only are you helping them heal, but also yourself.  Forgiving is huge step towards diminishing stress. 

8.  Laugh 
Do you laugh regularly?  If the answer is no, you need to find something that tickles your funny bone.  For me personally, I have very specific friends and family members I can talk to who I know will make me laugh effortlessly.  And if I can’t get a hold of them, I watch Michael Bolton videos from the ‘80s on YouTube- a sure fire way to get me laughing uncontrollably (though I poke fun, I admit to being an MB fan; please don’t judge me). 
And then, as a follow-up I'll watch the SNL Digital Shorts :-)  

Find what makes you laugh and you’ll be amazed at how humor is sometimes the best medicine for stress.

Questions?  Please feel free to ask me.  Follow my recipes for health on Twitter and "like" them on Facebook to join in the wellness conversation!  


Vicki said...

I needed this today; check out my blog/project
Medical student stress=killer

Solmaz Amirnazmi said...

There is nothing quite like medical school stress but hang in there and don't hesitate to turn to friends and family for support when you need them.

Reiki Chennai said...

Thanks for this informative article. Really need this because it's important tips for everyone.