This time of year starts to get crazy for all of us. Thanksgiving is in the air and Christmas around the corner. The calendars fill up with events - both ones that we are happy and not so happy about. The to-do lists grow longer. I know this time of year is always more stressful for me.
We all know what stress can do to our immune system. The studies conflict, but stress is linked to cancer and tumor growth. Being a stressed Type A person by nature I am in constant battle with the stress reaction as it is very real in how it affects my body. I believe that stress is a huge cause of inflammation in the body and that causes many, many physical ailments.
I had considered myself doing quite well with my stress response, and keeping things in perspective. Lately, not so much. The house has been torn up as we try to put new floors in 3 rooms upstairs, work is busy, family is busy, there is worry about health and circumstances of family and friends and it goes on and on. So I am trying to reel it all in and get things back in perspective and focus on the moment and not worry about the details of later or tomorrow.
Well, that is easier said than done!!! Here are my top stress relievers:
Exercise Always - I exercise consistently whether walking, running or doing bootcamp. I know, however, that this time of year is when it is easier to skip workouts because of the calendar, the cold, the dark, etc.... I am trying to keep this to a minimum this year. Every time I exercise, I am thankful that I CAN exercise. My body is healthy and strong and knowing that gets me through the toughest workouts. I try to remember the days when I couldn't exercise or thought I never would again and that puts me in the grateful mode. I feel GREAT afterwards and the stress levels are definitely down as a result.
Breathe Deeply - I have stopped a few times lately just to breathe. I notice that I barely breathe. I am consciously trying to take a few deep breaths throughout the day. A large inhale, hold it for a bit and then exhale it all out slowly. It is an instant calmer.
Keep Perspective - on the big picture, on the little things - on everything.. Enough said!
Connections - I try to stay connected consistently to the people who enhance my life. It's easy to let life take over, but there is never an excuse! Venting to a friend, sharing a story, just saying hello - it always helps. I also try to make a small difference is someone else's life as often as possible. A smile, a kind word, showing some empathy. I am also always focused on new connections and how those connections can change your life.
I am interested in some feedback here. What do YOU do to minimize stress? My latest attempt is a stab at testing to see if reducing/eliminating white sugar and flour changes my stress levels -- amongst other benefits I am looking for. It's been a couple of weeks and the results are not in. I will keep you posted.
Here's to a less stressed holiday season for us all!