One Bachelors degree.One Masters degree.Two or more jobs just to make ends meet.Correction: one job, making less money than I originally started out with…Needless to say, I was certainly not living out the ‘fairy tale’ dream that I thought my life would be at the ripe old age of 27 1/2. But instead of allowing the tidal wave of panic to completely wash over me, I glanced over at the closet and then quickly walked over to retrieve my running shoes.The Domino EffectAs fate (and perhaps genetics) would have it, I have the uncanny ability to become stressed out fairly easily where career and finances are involved. Not only this, but when something negative happens in my life, it tends to make me dwell on other negative things, thus creating a sort of snowball or domino effect; and before I know it, I suddenly find myself in the middle of a blizzard that I can’t seem to see my way out of.It’s irritating as hell.However, my one saving grace is my ability to move myself. Rather than sitting around in a slump (which, don’t get me wrong, is extremely tempting), I typically opt to exercise in some form or fashion, whether it means hitting the gym for a cardio/weight session, going for a run, walking, or signing up for a last minute yoga session.Learning to MoveI have found that time and again, if I just move my body by running or exercising in some other way, I feel infinitely better and am ready to tackle the world. For example, running or walking for an hour gives me a chance to clear my head, re-think goals and generally organize my thoughts. I can start a run feeling uninspired and tired, but by the end I am almost always more energized and full of pep. And if you need even more inspiration to move yourself, there are plenty of studies floating around out there, pointing out all of the ways in which too much stress can be bad for your overall health.Five Reasons to Get Out There and Move Yourself
- Biological- It is already a well-known fact that exercising can decrease stress hormones such as cortisol by increasing the body’s production of endorphins (aka: the “Runner’s high”), thus putting you in a better mood and making you feel fabulous.
- Relaxed State of Mind- Choosing to exercise in different settings such as outdoors in a park or in a local neighborhood can put you into a more relaxed state of mind as you take in nature scenes or come into contact with other people who are exercising.
- Immunity- Those who exercise more often may find that they are able to build up a sort of resilience to stress, thereby making it more manageable when something negative occurs in their life.
- Health- There are all sorts of negative things associated with not being able to get a handle on stress. For instance, did you know that too much stress can actually disturb your body’s equilibrium and cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, panic attacks and elevated blood pressure? Stress is also linked to some of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide [source].
- Physical- Perhaps the most obvious benefit to exercise has to be the physical benefits. Let’s face it; the more you exercise, the more psyched you will be (or should be) to want to eat healthier and maintain your gorgeous new physique. Being fit and in shape is also a real confidence booster- not to mention all of the great health benefits that go along with it.
Ten Quick Tips to De-Stress
- Meditate– There are great benefits to be had from meditation. Start out with something as simple as sitting in the dark for five minutes without any noise or distractions. Take five to ten deep breaths and then stretch. Need a little help? Try enrolling in a couple of yoga classes or by watching YouTube.
- De-Clutter– When you live in a space that is filled with little knick-knacks or other forms of clutter such as piles of bills or stacks of books, it can seem overwhelming. Set aside some time to organize the space that you live in so that whenever you walk in the door to your home, you truly feel at home.
- Take 5– Too often, we are so busy that we lose track of the things that we used to enjoy. If you have to, schedule some time for yourself so that you can get back into doing the things that you used to enjoy. Taking time for yourself can even be something as simple as watching your favorite movie or visiting an art exhibit.
- Find a Friend- Often, when people become involved in relationships or get married, their friends get pushed to the back burner. The same thing can happen when you start a new job or move to a different state. Even if it is something as small as sending a quick two-line email to check in, staying in touch with friends is important as it makes you feel more connected to the outside world. Friends are also a great outlet in times when you feel a little overwhelmed by life.
- Set Realistic Goals- One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make is that they set goals or standards for themselves and others that are too high. They realize this too late after they are eventually let down by something or someone. Therefore, it is important to assess your life and your situation (and sometimes the people you hang around) so that you can more accurately set realistic goals for yourself that you can ultimately feel good about.
- Focus on the Positive- When times are tough, it is important to try to always focus on the positive in any given situation. Remember that everything happens for a reason; and if you need a little help staying positive, talk about your problem or issue with someone who cares about you and will be able to help you lift your spirits.
- Avoid Procrastination- As ironic as it sounds, it’s true. Procrastinating is definitely something that you want to avoid doing because it will leave you with a ton of unfinished business as well as a side order of stress to boot. So, if you have those bills to pay or that assignment that your boss just doled out to you…get it done ASAP!
- Watch Less Television- Did you know that you actually burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television? It’s true. When most of us watch television, we often think of this as a great opportunity to snack or pig out on junk food. Even if you do avoid the refrigerator while sitting in front of the TV, think about all of the more productive things that you could be doing with your time! That being said, get off the couch!
- Incorporate Music– Music is a godsend. It can soften your mood or energize you. The next time you’re feeling blue, create a fun playlist and take it with you to the gym to reinvigorate you. Having trouble sleeping at night? Download some environmental sounds to help lull you to sleep.
- Don’t Bring Work Home With You- This is often easier said than done. The one nice thing about working at an office is that you can often walk out the door at the end of the day and leave your work behind you. However, for the growing number of people who work from home, it’s slightly more tricky. In this case, set aside a block of time in which you promise to get your work done. If you have an extra room in your home, great. Turn the extra room into an office, this way you can still get the effect of ‘walking out the door and leaving your work behind’.
Its not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it. – Hans Selye