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Have you had an increase in stress recently? Are you ready to make changes to improve your stress?

Our bodies help us manage acute stress by increasing our heart rate and breathing, as we prepare to battle. This is helpful in an emergency, but many people are living in a chronic state of stress, affecting our mind, body and behavior. Symptoms of chronic stress can include; headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, overeating or undereating, and social withdrawal. Left untreated, these effects can lead to many health problems, including; heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. 

There ARE small steps you can take to help manage the chronic stress!

Tip 1: Do a brain dump, or write in a journal

What do I mean by a brain dump? 

Simply, it is dumping your thoughts from your brain to declutter and organize your thoughts. I suggest you do this by using a paper and pen to write down all your thoughts. Anything goes, from your to-do list to your feelings. It doesn’t have to be neat, or make any sense, and you can make a list, or get creative. The purpose is to just get the information out of your head, which can lead to less stress and more productivity.  

If brain dumping doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps journaling will. If you already journal, great! I hope you take some time today to write down your thoughts. If you are new to journaling, however, I have found that beginning with even just one line each day is helpful.

Tip 2: Quality Sleep

Like you probably have heard, getting enough quality sleep is important. But do you know the WHY and the HOW to get quality sleep?

The Why: Not only can good sleep help with stress, but it can also aid in maintaining a healthy weight. Plus, so much more!

The How: Physical activity during the day and creating a bedtime routine are two things you can do to set yourself up for a quality night’s sleep. 

Tip 3: Nutrition

I bring nutrition into stress management because what you put into your body impacts your mood, brain function, and your overall health. In my on-going education I have learned about the benefits of fiber, including reducing the risk of many diseases. And you guessed it, fiber is found in plant foods! Along with the fiber in plant foods, you are also getting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Consider meal planning for the week and incorporating mostly plant based foods for quality nutrition to fuel your mind and body.

Tip 4: Movement

Do you have a fitness routine? If you do, great! If you don’t, it’s not too late to get started, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Do note, however, if exercise is new to you, or if you have a health condition, you may want to consult your doctor before incorporating a new activity. There are long term benefits to our physical well-being from exercise, but the immediate benefits include stress management.

If you are feeling stress throughout your day, taking a ten minute break for some movement can help bring your stress level down. If you can’t get outside for a walk. Try indoor walking! Simply walk in the space you have. Another idea is to put on some music and move, in whatever way feels good to you. However you choose to bring movement into your day, know that you are doing your mind and body good!

Tip 5: Meditation

First let me explain what meditation is and is not. Meditation is really the narrowing of thoughts to regulate the body’s internal dysregulation. It is internal attention to your breathing, movement or thoughts to bring you calm. Meditation is not necessarily associated with a specific religion or philosophy. 

The intended purpose of meditation is to bring you from active thinking to calm, and it can take practice to quiet a busy mind! Different types of meditation can include; guided meditation, movement and mindfulness. 

My favorite way to meditate is to find a YouTube video of rain sounds, which happens to be calming for me, and then I focus on breathing and clearing my mind. 

Again, meditation is a practice, so if you are new to it, be patient with yourself. Over time, it can benefit you by helping to manage stress.

Tip 6: Breathing Techniques

Breathing is something we do naturally, but when we are stressed we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. However, when we focus on our breath and breathe slowly and deeply, it can have a calming effect on our nervous system. The best thing about breathing techniques is they can be done anytime and anywhere!

A favorite breathing technique of mine is called The 4-7-8, or Relaxing Breath, by Dr. Andrew Weil. Another option is to simply place your hands on your belly and focus on the rise and fall as you inhale and exhale deeply. 

Breathing techniques are useful tools that you will always have with you!

These 6 stress management tips are about building small, actionable steps, one at a time. Decluttering your mind, quality sleep and nutrition, movement, meditation and breathing techniques CAN help reduce stress. At my YouTube Channel, Inspired Vitality, I created a video that goes a little deeper into these six stress management tips, and I do offer a one time, customized virtual stress management session. I invite you to reach out to me at hhckatherine@gmail.com to learn more and schedule a conversation.

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