National Stress Awareness Day

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Photo Courtesy: Jessica Rockowitz Photography + Film

I think we can all relate to feeling stressed. Whether stress manifests from our busy #momlife, meeting a deadline at work, or caring for an aging parent, we are all dealing with something! 

Often we give the word stress a negative connotation, but stress isn’t always a bad thing! Your bodies’ stress response is a way of lighting a fire to tackle a big project, or responding to a threat jeopardizing your safety. From a positive perspective, stress helps you perform under pressure. Like during labor & delivery or while running a 10k race or before you ace a presentation at work! The problem lies when you can’t turn OFF your stress response and you live in a state of constant panic.

This is the chronic stress most of us relate to. When stress becomes chronic, your body operates in a heightened state on a regular basis. At this point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing serious damage to your overall health, mood, hormones, and your quality of life. Chronic Stress disrupts nearly every system in the body and can be blamed on a multitude of ailments and autoimmune disorders. 

“When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which catapult the body into emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper” (1). This is called your Flight or Fight Response, and it’s your bodies way of protecting you from a predator. Only our nervous system doesn’t do a great job of judging the magnitude of our stress. The body ramps up the same level of cortisol & adrenaline whether you are in a life or death situation, or stressed about planning your partner’s surprise party!

Thankfully we now have a day to acknowledge and try to alleviate our stress.
National Stress Awareness Day is observed on the first Wednesday of November. This year it falls on Wednesday, November 7th.  The awareness day was founded by Carole Spiers, a Motivational Speaker & Executive Coach. Stress Awareness Day is meant to identify and aim to reduce the stress factors in your life. To honor the day, simply take a moment to pause and think about what’s currently causing tension in your life. Take note and reflect on ways you can reduce or remove your stress.

While most of us can’t remove stress from our lives, we can incorporate simple tactics to improve our ability to handle stress. I’m by no means an expert at dealing with stress. I’m more of a Type A, anxiety prone Mama {eek!} but here are some tools that I use when I’m feeling frazzled.

Movement: This is my #1 form of stress relief! I can lose myself in a long run or during a sweaty yoga flow and get out of my head. I end my workout/”me time” in a calmer place and I’m able to confront life’s stressors from a more positive perspective. Exercise not only feels good, but it’s beneficial to your health and it’s been proven to decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Find your favorite form, {walking counts!} and get moving!

Movement is also my favorite way to calm our kids’ stress as well!

When I notice they are overwhelmed or having trouble using their words to communicate we simply head outside and get moving!

Gratitude: As we head into the holiday season, {a stressful time for many} try to shift your focus and note all you are grateful for. Gratitude is a wonderful antidote to stress because you are living in the present moment! Commit to journaling every day in November. Write down three things you are grateful for and smile about your blessings. When you align your mind to what is good in your life, in this present moment, you have less room to stress about the future.  

Meditation is another way to quiet your mind during stressful seasons. Breath work activates the bodies’ parasympathetic response which is the polar opposite of the stress response. If you are a meditation newbie give my Mom’s Guide to Meditation a read. 
To meditate, find a comfortable seat, close your eyes & enjoy the quiet. Take the precious 5-10 minutes and set an intention. Relax, breath, repeat a mantra, give thanks, focus on your breath and quiet your thoughts. There is not a wrong way {or time} to meditate. The goal is to slow down, reduce your stress level and boost feelings of joy and calm.
When I’m feeling stressed I like to repeat, “This too shall pass” because it will!

Slash The Sugar: Ever notice how feelings of stress elicit a craving for chocolate! It’s your bodies’ way of self-soothing or finding quick energy to deal with your stress. The problem with indulging in the sugar craving?

Your quickly spiking sugar high will be very short lived and then the rapid crash will cause negative fluctuations in your mood and energy levels. A vicious cycle if you are already under duress.

When you are feeling stressed, sugar is the first thing you should remove from your diet.
By eliminating sugar laden foods—like pastries, flavored yogurt, and soda—and eating more protein and healthy fats, you’ll keep your blood sugar stable, which means fewer mood swings, reduced stress, and a happier body. (2)

I hope you take the time to be kind to yourself and find stress alleviating methods that work for you. Living in a state of stress or panic is not ideal, and you deserve so much more out of your ONE life! 

 

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