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Wellness Tip of the Day….Letting off Steam

Here’s the Wellness Tip of the Day in recognition of National Worksite Wellness Week compliments of Montana Chamber Choices.

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Don’t know where to start in your bid to manage stress? Here are 20 simple ideas to help you let off some steam.

1.    Have a Laugh-Look for the humor in stressful situations. Laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure and eases mental tension. Researchers find that laughter may also reduce levels of hormones that trigger the stress response and suppress immunity.

2.    Make Realistic Plans-Don’t make dinner plans across town for 6 p.m. when you know it always leaves you frazzled and annoyed. Think ahead, and adjust your plans to try to avoid triggers of stress.

3.    Claim Some Private Time-In kindergarten, they call it naptime. But adults need private time, too. Balance your family, social and work demands by reserving time for yourself. Find ways to take care of yourself and manage stress, such as finding a new hobby, taking a walk, soaking in a hot bath, or listening to your favorite music.

4.    Breathe-Did you know that the way you breathe can influence your mind, your body and your mood? The mere act of focusing on your breathing is relaxing, even if you do nothing else. Concentrate on your breathing any time you find yourself dwelling on upsetting thoughts.

5.    Communicate Artfully-Are you getting vibes from a friend or co-worker that put you on edge? Perhaps they are putting you down, or not listening to your ideas. Many people try to avoid conflicts. But it’s better to express your feelings – openly discussing a situation is the best way to purge tension.

6.    The Pause That Refreshes-Make mini-breaks part of your daily routine. Sit down and get comfortable. Take a deep breath, hold it, and then exhale very slowly. At the same time, let your shoulder muscles droop, smile and say (or think) something positive like, “Ahhhh, this feels good.”

7.    Accept That Nobody’s Perfect-Don’t demand perfection of yourself – set realistic and attainable goals. It’s true that there are areas of your life where you always want to measure up to high standards of performance. But it’s also a fact of life that sometimes we miss the mark.

8.    Get Moving-Physical activity is a time-tested stress reliever. Just a brisk walk can reduce the level of stress hormones in your blood. Start slowly, and shoot for at least 30 minutes a day (or two 15-minute sessions); even three walks a week will do you good.

9.    A Little Help From Your Friends-Friends can be good medicine. Daily conversation, regular social engagements, and occasional sharing of deep feelings and thoughts can reduce stress quite nicely. Your friends are there for you, and talking helps them de-stress, too.

10.  Count to 10…It’s good to acknowledge anger. But let yourself cool down before you yell, rant or rave.

11.  Keep a “Stress Journal”-Identifying major causes of stress helps you avoid or handle them more effectively. Track the occasions that were stressful, or triggered anger or anxiety. Jot down the time of day and the circumstances that led to it, then try to identify the types of events or activities that cause you stress. See if you can alter or avoid these circumstances.

12.  Get a Rub Down to Rub Out Stress-Draft a friend or spouse to do it, if you have to! Massage appears to slow down heart rate and relax the body. Rather than causing drowsiness, however, massage actually increases alertness. You may find that you are even relaxed for a day prior to the massage – just the anticipation can be soothing.

13.  Adopt Healthy Habits-Unhealthy habits often arise from being stressed out. When you are feeling the pressure, seek out healthy habits – add fruits and vegetables to your diet, take brisk walks and commit to getting eight hours of sleep.

14.  Curb Caffeine-Stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine can rev up your nervous system, which increases stress. Also, the addictive nature of some stimulants could leave you anxious until your next fix.

15.  Meditate-Those who do it are hooked. It’s easy to see why. Meditation can reduce your heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline levels and raise skin temperature.

16.  Practice Acceptance-Learn to accept yourself and others. We often get stressed out about things that are way beyond our control, such as someone else’s feelings or beliefs. You are much better off accepting these things and figuring out ways to work with them.

17.  Talk To Yourself-Ask yourself what you are really stressed about in the coming day or week. Then ask what you can do to reduce the stress for that event. You may find that as you work through the conversation, your stress dissipates.

18.  Have a Plan-Plot out realistic timings of daily activities, including work, sleep, relationships and recreation. You may find that you “plan” too many things each day. This will help you decide which daily activities are keepers and which to drop.

19.  Clean House-Removing physical clutter can be a prelude to purging emotional clutter. Use your time and energy as efficiently as possible to organize your home and office. You may find you even enjoy it!

20.  Don’t Procrastinate-Loose ends – whether with family, friends or work issues – cause stress. Make a list of things you have to do. If it seems too long, prioritize the tasks that are most important and can reasonably be accomplished in a specified amount of time. Also, ask yourself if anything on the list can be dropped or delegated.

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