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Blog: Ignite Your Energy and Grow Your Life!
The Weight of Stress
Stress manifests itself in all kinds of ways. It contributes to an increased risk for heart disease as you age and decreases your immune functioning. It can make you forego your otherwise healthy habits in favor of all kinds of bad behavior.
Stress makes you eat poorly, decreases your motivation to exercise and cause you to gain weight. An American Psychological Association study revealed that 43% of the individuals polled succumbed to overeating or eating unhealthy foods in order to manage stress.
But there's hope for the stressed - while roughly 50% of your stress response lies in your DNA (which means how you respond to stress is built into your genes) - the other half is influenced by your environment.
You can't change your genes but you can make choices that have a positive impact on how you respond to stress.
Next time you're feeling crunched by the pressure of stress, get control with one of these stress busters. You'll probably never live stress free, but you can grab hold of the steering wheel and keep yourself from careening off the highway!
1. Take your vitamins. B vitamins and magnesium are two of the most important nutrients for stress relief. Magnesium helps our muscles relax and B vitamins help regulate brain chemistry. Good sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds and nuts. For B vitamins look to whole grains and vegetables.
2. Breathe. Increase the flow of oxygen through your body and you'll relax more easily. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 2, and exhale for 8. for maximum benefit, repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times to reduce stress anytime.
3. Accentuate the positive. It sounds trite but it's true - when your schedule is crammed from morning till night it's easy to get spastic about not having enough time to get things done. Instead, focus on creating a small window of time for yourself - to work out, relax and regroup. You'll shift your mood and your responsibilities won't seem as burdensome. Take a 20 minute walk - it will do a lot for your sanity!
4. Write it down. Do a brain dump and get it out of your head. Releasing your stress on paper may help you determine your key life stressors. In one study, when people wrote in journal about a stressful event 3 days in a row for about 20 minutes per session, their immune systems were functioning better and their stress levels were lower than those who wrote about random thoughts.
5. Stretch yourself. Cardio and strength training workouts definitely reduce stress, but don't underestimate the benefits of simple stretching. Even practicing one yoga pose a day can reduce your stress levels and improve your body's flexibility.