5 tips to de-stress your life
Mary Wissmann, MS, RD, LD
Nutrition & Health Education Specialist
In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and overstressed by the numerous demands of daily life.
Short-term periods of stress can cause an increase in blood pressure, headaches, trouble sleeping, and more. However, chronic stress and worrying are much more serious health concerns, as they can lead to insomnia, weight gain,
depression, and even more serious complications with diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic conditions.
Using simple techniques to calm and de-stress your daily life will help you to respond to both minor and more serious stressful situations in a healthier way. Here are some suggestions.
1. Take a breath. Taking a deep breath is one of the quickest and simplest strategies to use when feeling stressed. It doesn't require special equipment; it can be done any time, any place. Focusing your mind on breathing brings you into the present and provides a moment of peace.
2. Say "Yes" to you. This involves doing something you take pleasure in. It can be as simple as spending a few minutes playing with a pet, talking to a friend, or playing an instrument. If you're looking for ideas, start by making a Joy List. Ask yourself, "If I had no obligations today, what would I do?" Then write everything that comes to your mind for the next three minutes. Use this list for ideas on how to say "yes" to yourself.
3. Be aware. Become aware of what your body is trying to tell you during a stressful situation. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Next time you are stuck in a traffic jam, notice how your body reacts. Does your mind start to race, thinking about all the things you could be doing instead of sitting in traffic? Do you feel yourself getting angry or annoyed? As you become more aware, notice as your reaction to the stress begins to change.
4. Choose physical activity that fits you. Physical activity can improve your mood and physical health. It can even help you sleep better. However, it is crucial to choose the activity that fits your needs. Do you prefer being active outside or indoors? If you like being outside, joining a gym isn’t right for you. Look back at failed exercise attempts. What were you trying to do that didn’t work? Tune into yourself and your needs.
5. Make a “Life is too short to…” list.
In two minutes, list everything that your life is too short to waste your time doing. Examples: reading junk mail, spending more time cleaning up after your kids than playing with them, etc. Revise your list if needed. Make sure you do things that matter to you. Long-term stress often results from spending too much time doing unimportant things and not enough time doing things you care about.
Source: MU Extension’s Taking Care of You—Body, Mind, and Spirit curriculum. See class schedule at extension.missouri.edu/stlouis.
Resource: Pitzer, R. L. (2003). A Parent’s Guide to Teens: The Growing Season. University of Minnesota Extension. Available at www.extension.umn.edu/