Managing Stress

Identify what we are responsible for, focus on these 5 areas and strive to let go of concerns that are out of your hands.

What you think, feel, say, do and need.

Under this umbrella, let’s explore our spiritual, physical and emotional lives.

1. Spiritual-Involves meaning, Role Model and Faith

Meaning to life. Contribution; service, give-aways, financial giving. Faith. Being a wife and mother is a noble life’s purpose and a very important role model.  As you are intentional in cheering your children along academically and athletically, remember the long-time gift you are giving by being the type of mom who influences others by being a loving soul. Soul=the inner person.

Practicing your faith can increase hope, strengthen social support, increase your sense of purpose and provide answers to the difficult questions in life.

As kids, we sang tons of songs, from The Itsy-Bitsy Spider to whatever was on                the radio, with little self-consciousness. But how often do you sing as an adult, or even hum or whistle? See if you can get more music in your life and express yourself loudly, quietly, publicly or only in the shower. Songs that represent your faith, or the faith of your family of origin can provide great comfort for some people. Don’t worry about being on key, just enjoy yourself. Singing can be a beautiful, fast, cathartic and free stress reliever that just about anyone can enjoy.

2. Physical-Nutrition, exercise, sleep.

Eliminate all foods containing partially hydrogenated oils. There’s growing evidence that these unnatural fats are not good for us, and avoiding them and the processed foods that they come in would be a huge step to improving nutritional health. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Besides all the nutrients that produce contains, it also plays a role in weight loss. Fruits and vegetables fill you up for a small amount of calories. Drink eight glasses of spring water daily.

Watch your portion sizes. Most of us eat far more food than we really need, and there are many reasons to eat less, including slowing the aging process. Control your calorie intake, get no more than 20% of your calories from fat, and be sure to get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Limit Caffeine, you will sleep better, have less food cravings and decrease risk of breast lumps. Caffeine increased anxiety and also irritability.

Exercise; Walk whenever possible. Within the parameters of children’s ages and your own capacity, strive for 3 or 4 times per week when you are able to maintain an elevated heart rate for 20-30 minutes.

Team Sports

We all remember sports teams as kids. Whether it was tee-ball, soccer, dodge ball or hide-and-seek, playing active games in a group has some great benefits for kids. As an adult, physical games can offer the health and stress management benefits of exercise, and the group involvement can ensure that you’ll keep at it. You can join an adult softball league, play racket ball at your gym, or enjoy other games that are available in your community

Active Sex Life

 In an Arizona State University study on 58 middle-aged women, physical affection or sexual behavior with a partner significantly predicted lower negative mood and stress, and higher positive mood the following day. Simply put, researchers found that sex and physical intimacy led women to feel less stressed and be in a better mood the next day. (These results weren’t found when women had orgasms without a partner.)

Good Mood and Good Sex

The same study found that being in a good mood predicted more physical affection and sexual activity with a partner the next day, showing that the sex-stress management connection works both ways: sex can lead you to feel less stressed, and being less stressed (or at least in a better mood) can lead to more sex. Further proof of the importance of effective stress management!

3. Emotional-Quiet time, Environment control, Boundaries, Increasing Relationship Time

Writing Notes

As we got older, some of us kept diaries, and we probably all enjoyed writing notes to our friends. These are still good stress management techniques to practice as adults. The health and stress management benefits of journaling have been demonstrated by research, and you can journal about your emotions, record your dreams, or keep a gratitude journal. And if you want to write notes to friends again, you can visit the forum, connect with others, and share your thoughts.

Pets-

When kids play with animals, you can see the pure love and affection that they share. If you had a pet as a child, you probably remember that animal as a buddy, whether it was an hamster, dog or horse. But as adults we sometimes forget to connect with our animal friends. Pets have been shown to reduce blood pressure better than medication, increase healthy lifestyle behaviors, and sometimes give better social support than humans!

Drawing, Painting, Sculpting

Just about everyone drew pictures as a kid. However, expressing what’s inside with crayons, pencils or finger paints shouldn’t just be a pastime of kids and a lucky few adults who become professional artists. Whether you doodle with pens while you take a break at work, or buy some artist supplies and go wild in your spare time, working art into your life can help you process emotions, express yourself, relieve stress, and leave you with something to frame, or at least hang on the fridge.

Good Stewardship reduces stress;

Coupons, sales, practical choices, plan spending or treats rather than spontaneous choices.  Practice good boundaries with your resources. You are your most valuable resources. Use wisdom when to say yes, and when to say no. Participation and contribution can increase your joy and sense of significance, if you know there is a limit to what you can do and become a good steward of yourself.

Develop menus, planning saves money. Stress increases as we feel hopeless, so the key is taking responsibility for what we can control. There is so much we cannot.

Attitude is everything, if you view improving stewardship as a skill it is a valuable mindset to teach our children. If you resent the challenging economy, or convey feeling deprived to your children they will adopt that way of thinking.

Now, volatile stock markets and rising interest rates threaten individuals with additional stress and anxiety as retirement savings and overall financial future may be perceived to be in jeopardy.

A new Australian study discovers money is often on the minds of most of us. In fact, money and work are two of the top sources of stress for almost 75 percent of the population, according to Australian Psychological Society President, Amanda Gordon.

“Like most of our everyday stress, this extra tension can be managed. Psychologists first recommend taking pause and not panicking,” says Gordon. “There are healthy strategies available for managing stress during tough economic times.”

The American Psychological Association recommends the following tips to help manage stress:

“Pause but don’t panic. There are many negative stories in newspapers and on television about rising interest rates. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype, which can lead to high levels of anxiety and bad decision making. Avoid the tendency to overreact or to become passive. Remain calm and stay focused”.

Identify your financial stressors and make a plan. Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company.

Recognize how you deal with stress related to money. In tough economic times some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. The strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments between partners. Be alert to these behaviors – if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other professional before the problem gets worse.

Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change. Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities to take stock of your current situation and make needed changes. Try taking a walk-it’s an inexpensive way to get good exercise. Having dinner at home with your family may not only save you money, but help bring you closer together. Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through your employer or look into low-cost resources in your community that can lead to a better job. The key is to use this time to think outside the box and try new ways of managing your life.

Ask for professional support if needed. Facing money troubles can be difficult, even embarrassing, but ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away usually means they get worse. Financial planners are available to help you take control over your money situation. If you continue to be overwhelmed by the stress, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your financial worries, manage stress, and change unhelpful behaviors.