Money is tight, work assignments are piling up, you just got into a fight with your friend, you don’t feel healthy, and ahhhhh! Make it stop! If the stress gets any worse, you think your head will pop off. But out of the corner of your eye you see a bowl full of candy, a bag of chips calling your name, and you got wind that there is cake in your office’s break room. We don’t need to explain what happens next.
If this situation seems all too familiar, unfortunately, you’re like the majority of Americans. About 70 percent of Americans report they experience physical or non-physical symptoms of stress, and about 25 percent report eating to manage the symptoms, according to the American Psychological Association. Stress eating isn’t helping you stick to your medical weight loss plan, but there are plenty of healthy ways to reduce stress.
Exercise: When it comes to healthy ways to reduce stress, sweating it out is top of the list. Exercise gets your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, working. Focusing on one task, like an exercise class, can help take your mind off a stressful day. It allows you clear your head by channeling all your energy in one place.
Chew gum: Popping a piece of sugar-free gum may help take off the edge if you have a day of multitasking ahead. A study found chewing gum helps relieve anxiety, improve alertness, and reduce stress while taking on multiple tasks.
Phone a friend: Take a 15-minute break to catch up with a friend. It’s a mental break from the task that is consuming you, and that’s what friends are for, right? The pick-me-up may be just what you need to put your stress in perspective.
Get a massage: If you’re looking for an excuse to splurge on a massage, you’re in luck. A massage may help melt away stress. Studies show massage may decrease the amount of the stress-producing hormone cortisol in the body, which may also be linked to increased belly fat.
Sleep: Getting an adequate amount off zzzs can reduce stress. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to keep your emotions in check. If you’re tired, you’re more irritable and easily agitated, making a small amount of stress seem larger. Aim to get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night.
Walk your dog: Fido will love the fresh air and so will you. Research shows spending time with your furry friend is a healthy stress reliever. Make it a power walk to burn a few extra calories.
Watch a funny YouTube video: There’s nothing a good laugh can’t cure, stress included. Fortunately, technology has made finding a good laugh, even if it’s at someone else’s expense, very easy. Just a one-minute video that produces a laugh can be enough to reset your brain.
Schedule some “you” time: When was the last time you focused on yourself? If you can’t remember, you are probably in need of some “you” time. Spend some alone time with nature, go on a run, take a bath. You have to worry about your own wellbeing before you can focus on anyone else’s.
Take a vacation and really unplug: No emails. No text messages. No Internet. A constantly buzzing phone isn’t doing your health any good, and you’ll be happy you hit the off button. When you return from your much-need time off, you’ll feel recharged, more productive, and less stressed.
Squash stress when it strikes: When you feel the stress start to pile up, take a deep breath, step back, and assess the situation. If you can stop stress when it strikes, you will be able to determine the best stress buster to alleviate the situation. A deep breath may be exactly what you need.
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