Healthy Ways to Handle Stress
Photo: © Drobot Dean - AdobeStock
With all the fun and joy, the holiday season can bring along a load of stressors as well. The first and most effective line of defense against stress is to identify stressors and find ways to minimize or eliminate them. Life usually comes with seasons of ease and seasons of stress, so eliminating stress isn't always an option. If you are particularly stressed around the holidays, consider the following effective, all-natural methods for managing stress.
Focus on Solutions
It's healthy to communicate your thoughts, but instead of focusing your attention on the problem, write down at least two solutions to remedy your stressful situation. State the problem succinctly in a sentence or two, then spend the next five minutes writing out the best-case scenario for your problem. It's both productive and cathartic.
Perform a Calming Exercise
When you deal with stressful situations, you need something to "calm your nerves." Expend the extra energy by going for a walk. Light exercise is a great drug-free method for managing stress. You don't need to speed-walk. Sometimes a leisurely walk to the end of the block and back is sufficient to expend nervous energy and help you to reestablish both physical and emotional balance.
Breathe in Your Favorite Scent
It is no secret that certain scents help the body to relax. Deep breathing also helps manage stress. Find your favorite scent—a scented candle or a favorite fruit (orange peel is great for this)—and just inhale deeply. Focusing your attention on a rhythmic, involuntary function like breathing redirects your thoughts and energy away from your problem.
Aim for Proper Nutrition
Often, the temptation is to choose fatty sweets or so-called comfort foods to help us through the tough moments, but instead of reaching for sugar, fat, and carbs, opt instead for protein, calcium, and iron. Why? The amino acid in protein helps increase your dopamine levels; iron helps your body battle fatigue; and calcium, which stress depletes, is necessary for neurological health. Instead of a slice of cake, you would fare better with grilled chicken and cheese on iron-enriched wheat bread.