Stress is a part of our daily life, but the holidays can up the pressure, especially on busy parents. Preventing feelings of stress can be difficult, but the great news is there are simple things you can do to minimize it.
- Visualize a tranquil, relaxing place. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, it helps to imagine being in a relaxing location. Visualizing can help clear your mind, reduce physical tension and enable you to recover your physical and emotional strength.
- Breathe deeply. Our breathing is often short and shallow when we’re feeling stressed, which will activate the stress response into high gear. Practice this deep breathing exercise to trigger your relaxation response: Gently place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe in slowly through your nose (focus on breathing down into your belly, instead of elevating your chest). Then exhale slowly through your mouth, gently pressing all the air from your lungs. Continue until you start to feel calm and relaxed.
- Check out the facts. Negative thoughts can sometimes create the illusion that things are not so great. For example, let’s say your employer appears to have a furious look on her face, so you conclude that she’s angry with you. The fact is she could be stressed for numerous reasons of her own. Possibly she doesn’t feel good or has fallen behind on a deadline. Check out the facts before jumping to conclusions.
- Laugh it up. Laughing is a great way to release endorphins, those natural substances in your body that can aid in minimizing feelings of stress. Chat up a conversation with a funny friend; watch a comedy movie; read a humorous book of jokes; or connect to a comical Web site or blog.
- Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. There are numerous aspects of our environment that we can’t control, and stressing over them is a waste of energy and time. For example, you can’t change your spouse’s annoying little habits, and you can’t avoid being laid off from work or a death in the family. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress. Tell yourself to be realistic about what you can and can’t control.
- Maintain good eating and sleeping habits. When you don’t eat or sleep right, your body feels stressed. You can easily feel worn out and have difficulty engaging in daily tasks. So eat healthy foods and get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
- Do something pleasant for yourself. Take a break from your regular routine to help decrease feelings of stress. You could be wondering, what about those moments when you feel there isn’t enough time to plan something? Just take a minute and jot down “me time” in your daily planner. For example, make an appointment at the day spa, book a reservation at your favorite restaurant, schedule a yoga class, or take time to browse through a magazine. Simply having a time to look forward to can quickly elevate your mood!
Local resident Jaleh Donaldson M.S., MFT is the author of ‘Life’s Little How To Book,’ now available online.