Monday, August 6, 2012

Stress is a Mess

It's back to school time for everyone including me. I stress about work piling up and going to a completely new school. A few simple tricks that I've learned over the years is something I have been telling my friends about. I've done some reading on stress signs or symptoms.

Stress usually hit me first in the morning. Laying there in bed thinking about the day and it's like a little black forms over my bed. Well to start getting rid of stress I literally lay on my back, while still in bed, and bring my knees to my chest. Lifting my head up to meet my knees and then hold for 3 breaths. Doing this three times will relax your mind and get your blood pumping so you're ready to face your day.

Another way to relax before getting out of bed is a yoga trick. Lie on your back, bend your knees so your feet are flat and wide apart, and let your knees fall in until they touch. Then put your palms together and press your eyebrows. Hold for at least one minute.

I always wear an extra hand elastic for my next tip on dealing with stress. I am also prone to zoning out while I'm under stress. Snapping the elastic hair-bow or rubber-band around your wrist, and when you start to freak gently flick it against your skin. It seems silly, but it can snap you back into the moment- literally.

This one is just for the girls. If you are facing a mountain of to-dos, give your nails a pretty paint job. It makes your focus on one thing. This technique works because it makes your brain relax and recover from a hectic day. By the time your nails are dry, you'll be calm-and ready to get to work.

Those moments when you feel so frustrated that tears well up? Yep there is a cure for that as well. Makes a fist with one hand to find out where your ring finger hits your palm. When you find that spot press your there with your thumb from your hand. Keep pressing to stop your body's stress response- the one that might typically turn your face bright red.

Sometimes when you feel like you just need to let some stress loose, just scream. It will work and it feels like a small weight has been lifted.

If you are stressed out and panicking, tune up the volume. Dancing to your favorite fast pace music gets muscles to relax tense muscles and boost levels of calming brain chemicals.

Breathe deeply. Any yoga class or retreat class will tell you this is the best way to calm down when you are anxious. When you are anxious, your breathing gets faster and shallower, less oxygen reaches your brain. Start thinking calmly and clearly again by doing this technique for two minutes: Inhale through your nose for a 1-2-3-4 count, then exhale 1-2-3-4 out your mouth. For extra improvement sit straight up and breath so deep that you feel your diaphragm expand and contract.

The are other signs of stress:

Stomach troubles are one of the main problems people experience. Some people like to blame what they've ate for their stomach problems. Part of it might be, though it might not be the root of the problem. Your bowels can act up in major ways when you're stressed giving you constipation, diarrhea, gas or even bloating. If you feel like you have stomach troubles on a regular basis, see your doctor, who can prescribe the best treatment to keep your symptoms under control.

Bad headaches is another symptom of stress. When you feel like your head will explode from thinking about so much there is a reason. Low-level stress that builds up in your body can actually cause a dull pain or tight feeling across your forehead for days. Sure, painkillers like ibuprofen are a quick fix, but until you de-stress, the pain will return. Tension headaches go away with regular exercise.

Constant colds adding to your stress? Well stress could be the culprit for the cold. Stress causes your immune system to take a beating making it too weak to fight off viruses you come in contact with during the course of your stress time. People with higher levels of long-term stress are about twice as likely to come down with a cold.

The stress problem that most people hate the most? Weight gain. Stress makes your crave fatty foods like cookies because they calm you down. It also causes your body to create a hormone called cortisol- which can turn that extra food to fat!

So you still want a good snack? I have done my research there as well.
Morning-Wake-Up Drink? A skinny latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon which has been proved to be a smell to wake you up. A surgery energy drink or frappuccino with tons of syrup and whipped cream can make you crash fast. So pick a creamy latte made with a steamed skim milk instead. The caffeine in the espresso and the protein in the milk work together for a longer-lasting boost!

Midmorning snacks are the ones that really count. A good granola bar of fruit and nuts is the answer to the midmorning blues. Refine carbohydrates like chips  or cookies can make you sleepy during the day. So instead of grabbing a back of chips or candy bar stock up on granola bars. They are sweet and crunchy but with just enough healthy carbs, protein, and fat to rev you up. The nuts in the granola are high in magnesium a mineral that gives you energy.

A fast and easy afternoon is one of my favorites recipes. Spread two wedges of Laughing Cow Light cheese on 8 whole grain crackers (like Triscuits) and top with salsa. Eat this yummy snack that's low in fat but high in energy. The combo of ingredients and flavors (whole wheat, cheese, and tomato) will satisfy you.

If you have had an exhausting day and are looking for a quick pick me up that won't weigh you down. Jelly beans are the answer. Your body unlocks the energy in sugar super- fast. Straight-up sugar powers you best- 15 to 20 jelly beans will digest fast, so they won't sit in your stomach and slow you down.

Late night snacks are one that many people are guilty of eating. If you are up late a treat that's too big or too rich (like a huge bowl of ice cream) can make you toss and turn later as your body tries to digest it. Instead, satify your sweet tooth with something lower in fat and sized just right like Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. They are perfectly sized!

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