What are some Healthy Initiatives I can make to reduce my Stress?
Stress Reducing Healthy Initiatives:
As a 20 year veteran of counseling, I have studied many ways to decrease, prevent or manage the stress/tension reaction. In my second article on Stress Management, I am going to focus on 3 very important heathy habits to moderate stress in your life. The problem is that so many people think these three practices are so basic and just plain common sense habits that they don’t implement them. These suggestions will not help you in your stress reduction plan unless you do them. So please take this advice seriously. The 3 Top Stress Prevention Habits are:
- Making Sleep a Priority
- Managing Stress with regular Exercise
- Healthy Eating produces Positive Mood-Altering Chemicals in the Brain
Why should a good night’s sleep be a part of my stress regiment?
A good night’s sleep is so simple that it is often overlooked. Here in the U.S., we stay so busy with work, chores, family, computer, emails, and texting. Now with the invention of social media, many American’s never totally stop working. All these things have made a good night’s slumber low on the “To-Do” list.
Back in the 1800’s when electricity was considered expensive and there were not may late night activities, people just went to bed. This was a Healthy habit. The animal world is geared to shut-down for 7 to 9 hours daily. Sleep rejuvenates all our systems. The body needs that time to repair and replenish us mentally and physically.
To get the most out of your shut-eye, your brain needs to go through 2 REM cycles per night. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement which is the fast eye movement under are eyelids that signals our body is in the deepest part of the sleep stage. For some unknown reason, animals need this process to recharge, repair, process thoughts & emotions and improve brain function. Since the brain is the first source of your stress, regular, quality sleep cannot be over- stated. All feelings become less manageable and more magnified without proper rest. Sleep deprivation leads to unhealthiness, sluggishness, drowsiness, unclarity and reduced productivity. Who would you want providing your health care? A doctor who has been up for 48 hours or one that just had 8 hours of sleep? I hoped you picked the well-rested MD. Now that I have made a case for the advantages of regular quality rest for stress prevention, let’s look at some tips to help you accomplish this daily habit.
Concrete Steps to Improve Your Quality of Sleep
- Make sleep a priority in your life
- Set aside at least 8 hours daily to rest. ( 75% of U.S. population is sleep deprived)
- Give yourself 1 hour before bed to unwind.
- a) Our brain needs clues to trigger that it is time to sleep
- One hour before bed, stop all stimulating activity (Get off the phone, computer, texting, etc.)
- Relax, stretch, breath slowly and deep and perform activities that will calm you down ( ex: Get into PJ’s, take a hot bath, drink a cup of warm milk or decaffeinated tea, read a book, meditate, pray, watch a low-key TV program)
- Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary (quiet, dark and comfortable)
*Keep your bedroom a cool, comfortable temperature
* Wear comfortable clothes/ PJ’s to bed
* Have a mattress that allows you to sleep for 8 hours and not wake up sore.
* Calm your thoughts as your falling asleep. (Try soft, gentle music, praying, meditating, counting, or thinking pleasant thoughts)
*Turn off your phone in bedroom and no cell phones or computers near your bedside.
*Dark rooms are better for sleeping unless you have nightmares. Then a night light can help.
Use these tips to get regular, quality rest. Remember, the only way this will actually be a stress deterrent is if you make a good night’s sleep a regular priority.the day. I will continue with more stress reducing tips in the weeks to come. Make SLEEP a priority in your stress reduction plan.
If you would like additional stress resources, check out How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie or The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Amit Sood MD and Mayo Clinic. If you would like to read more by this author, there are 3 more parts to The Core of Stress Management: Tools of Empowerment or book a conversation with Vicki at www.supportivetalk.com