03 Apr Defeating Stress for a Healthier Lifestyle
By: Donna Jenkins
While this is definitely a subject for the masses, I want to dedicate this one to the ladies.
So let’s start with a few questions that I want you to ask yourselves and then I want to have a conversation about a topic that we often dismiss as just being “The Life of a Woman,” without recognizing the tremendous impact it has on our lives and the lives of those around us.
I am talking about stress and its ability to sap our energy, our health and even our relationships if we let it. So, ask yourselves, are you dealing with the battle of the bulge? Are you angry, moody or just plain feel like “bawling like a baby” at the drop of a hat? Are you snapping at your family for no apparent reason? Have you lost your zeal for life and the things you once loved? If the answer is yes to any of these, then stress could be the culprit. In fact, in small doses, stress can be good for you but the problem is that for the average woman, our lives are anything but a small dose and challenges come from every direction, leading to some of the issues mentioned above or evolving into serious health issues like chronic diseases.
I know! I know! Women over the centuries are known to wear a red cape, boots and a big S in the middle of our chests and are able to juggle a multitude of tasks all with the expectation of doing so with a smile on our faces. It may be true that we are wired to multitask but it is important to realize that when we are under a constant stress load, our bodies can’t take care of things like losing weight, conceiving babies, digestion, or even clear thinking. Let’s face it…if our bodies think that there is a monster lurking around every corner to devour us, it’s not too concerned with whether we can think through the next few tasks on your “to-do-list” for your family.
Is This Your Story…………..?
You have to get up really early in the morning to get the kids ready for school just to have one miss the bus or the carpool line moves exceptionally slow. You then navigate traffic while fighting to stay in your “love walk” and not give into road rage. You arrive at work late and to make matters worse, your office is short-staffed and there are a lot of deadlines to meet so overtime is mandatory. Once you finally leave work, you rush home to get the family ready before heading back out to a meeting or evening game or other activity that your children are participating in and when you get home, you’re so tired that you don’t want to do anything! But we all know that sleep is a long time away because the laundry seems to have sprouted legs and the kids and husbands need your attention too!
So how do I handle stress? If you saw yourself in this story and are nodding your heads, I am excited to say that you no longer have to be a victim of the “stressors of Life,” but can rise above them by following some simple steps.
Become a problem solver….. Make a list of the things that cause you stress and figure out which problems you can solve now and which are beyond your control for the moment. Be flexible. Be willing to give in once in awhile or meet people halfway instead of arguing. Get organized. Know how you’re going to spend your time so you’re not overwhelmed. Set limits and figure out what you can really do. Don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.
Breathe ladies!….Take deep breaths literally! If you’re feeling stressed, taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax. Take care of your body….Get enough sleep (7-8hrs) to help you recover from the stresses of the day, eat a healthy diet fueled up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains to energize you and Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! Getting physical activity not only helps you to relax your tense muscles but also helps to improve your mood.
Lastly, Connect with others….. You do not have to go this alone! Sharing your issues with friends or family members can sometimes help you feel better. They might also help you see your problems in a new way and suggest solutions that you hadn’t thought of and if you don’t have anyone close to you then seek a professional before things spiral out of control.
Remember that stress is stress whether good or bad but our bodies will react unfavorably to prolonged episodes of it unless we find a way to defeat it so that we can live healthier lives.