It's sad to see all the people heading toward their vacation destinations
to "get away from it all" when it's clear from all they've packed in the car
and the impatience with which they drive that they're taking it all with
them. All the stress, anxiety, anger and pressure are just weighing down
our vacation, further reducing our ability to manage the stress in our
lives. So, how do we really get away from stress? I'm glad you
asked! By managing five elements of our lives (diet, exercise, attitude,
and down-time), we can really get away from stress...even when we're
Diet To Deal With Stress: Many of us don't realize that most of the
fats, salts and sugars in our diets actually create stress. First,
there's the toxic physical stress from overloading our systems with
unhealthy foods. Then, our bodies, in trying to process these foods,
makes chemicals in our blood that cause mental and emotional stress.
Some of it is so extreme as to bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression.
By following a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and
vegetables, you can eliminate a major stressor in your life.
Exercise To Deal With Stress: Just like diet, poor exercise habits
can add to our stress. We need 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3-5
days per week, to reduce the stress in our lives. Exercise reduces
stress for two main reasons. First, the increased blood flow delivers
the nutrients from your diet to the cells that need them. Second,
exercise produces endorphins and other chemicals that relax you, give you a
positive outlook, and help you deal confidently with the issues of the day.
Exercise has even been proven effective on mild to moderate migraines,
anxiety and depression.
Attitude To Deal With Stress: Of course, diet and exercise can go a
long way in developing a good attitude, but we can take direct action on our
attitudes, as well. We can start by changing our self image to a more
positive, proactive, happy and productive person. While it will seem
strange at first, don't allow yourself to hold negative thoughts about
yourself or your abilities. Instead, replace them with positive ideas.
For some examples: Change, "I always mess that up," to "I don't know
how that happened, I normally do real well with that." Change, "I hate
that." to, "I love that."
Scheduling To Deal With Stress: While working on our attitudes, one
of the biggest stressors is the feeling of not being in control.
That's where scheduling comes in. Most of us are terrible at planning
our time. This leaves us subject to the plans of others, adding to our
stress. When we take control of our own schedules, we are more
productive, actually more flexible, and we significantly reduce our stress.
At least until the boss see's how much more we're getting done and promotes
us to a more stressful job.
Down Time To Deal With Stress: One of the most important ways to
fight stress is with downtime. This is the time you are not actively
working or thinking about work. It can be spent pursuing hobbies or
just taking long naps. Instead of trying to squeeze all your downtime
into 1-2 weeks of vacation per year, making the vacation a more stressful
event, try this schedule: 1 hour per day; 1 day per week; one weekend
per month; and 1-4 weeks per year. By practicing daily, weekly, and
monthly downtime, you stay relaxed all year, so the vacations are even more
relaxing. By the way...if you practice this schedule of downtime,
you'll find you're far more productive in your work. Rest is an
important part of productivity.
As you can see, there is far more to reducing stress than the occasional
vacation. We don't have to live stressed-out, unhappy lives anymore.
By fighting stress in our diets, exercise, attitudes, schedules
and downtime, we can improve our health and productivity, and live relaxed,