All posts tagged “stress

Hiking in nature can be very beneficial both physically and mentally.
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How hiking helps the brain

Hiking kicks out negative thoughts

Rumination is defined as the tendency to continuously think about upsetting situations, causes, and consequences that might be burdening an individuals mind. Luckily, the National Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study which found that going on nature-filled hikes can significantly curb these thoughts, encouraging not only physical well being but also mental prosperity. By measuring neural activity and levels of rumination in the two different groups, researchers found that urban environments have distinct correlations with depression and negative disposition while the natural environments show to lower levels of rumination as well as neural activity in the part of the brain that is intimately linked to mental illness.

Hiking can boost brain power, and help keep you focused

Other studies contrasting urban vs. natural environments have found that not only can hiking in nature prevent negative thoughts, it can also greatly improve cognitive performance! Researchers realized that a nice long hike away from urbanization and technology can reduce mental fatigue, boost creative thinking, improve memory, and even remarkably reduce symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Along with all of these incredible benefits, it is proven that people who work out outside are much more likely to continue their routine rather than quit shortly after starting. Whether it’s for a minute or an hour, everyone should make an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature whenever possible. Good for the mind, body, and soul, hiking in nature is an excellent way to stay healthy and happy.

 

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Loren Kerns

 

 

Erase Stress
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Stress: how to cope better with life’s challenges

What causes stress

Imagine you are walking down a beautiful trail, taking in the scenery, smelling the flowers and enjoying your day. Your brain is having a positive response to the relaxing environment, serotonin is released, and you feel happy, at ease. Now imagine, around the next turn you are face to face with a brown bear. In an instant the chemicals in your brain change drastically, digestion in halted, your heart beat speeds and blood flow to your muscles increases. These chemical changes are your body’s instinct to defend itself, your fight or flight response. These changes are also called stress.

Stress can be a good thing in moderation, or when you need that boost to dive out of harm’s way. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when it goes on for too long. Stress in everyday life can negatively impact physical and mental health. Most often, there is no fight or flight response needed, yet your body prepares to run, working overtime. This can cause you to feel anxious, worried, afraid or uptight.

What changes may be stressful

Simply, any change can lead to stress. This can be good change or bad change. Although, it may not be the change itself causing stress, rather how you react to it. It is also important to remember that stress is different for everyone. Going to the grocery store might be stressful for one individual and therapeutic for another.

Can stress hurt my health

Stress can cause or complicate health problems. A few possible signs of stress can include

  • Anxiety
  • Neck and back pain/tightness
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression

How can stress be managed

Firstly, try and recognize the common signs of stress. Shoulder and neck tension, as well as clenched fists are often early warning signs of stress. The next step is to select a method to deal with your stress. Ideally, avoiding the thing that causes your stress is best, but that is not always an option. Here are some tips for dealing with stress,

  • Choose a hobby – something you love, or want to get better at
  • Try not to worry about the things out of your control
  • Take care of your little problems first – this can help you to feel more in control
  • Try to prepare for the stressful things in advance
  • View change as a positive challenge, forward momentum
  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthier food options

Why Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy, as well as release your “happy” brain chemicals. For example, serotonin production is increased during exercise. Serotonin increase has been shown to improve mood and increase energy.

The silver lining

If you are feeling stressed, you get to choose your hobby, something you love. These hobbies can include music, puzzles, walking, yoga, and video games; the list is infinite, because there isn’t a correct answer.  Get lost in the things you enjoy, and remember to take a deep breath.

Contact your doctor if you want help or advice on how you can tackle stress.

Sources:

FamilyDoctor.org

For the full article, follow the link here.

  Feature photo by  Alan Cleaver

laughter
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Laughter just may be the best medicine for your heart

In recent years, studies have found a strong connection between our emotions and heart health. Research suggests that laughter can protect your heart by decreasing stress hormones, thereby reducing inflammation in your arteries. These changes appear similar to the benefits of aerobic exercise and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

In short, laughter is a powerful remedy for stress, pain and conflict. Nothing works faster than a good laugh to bring your mind and body back into balance.

Make it part of your everyday life

Make laughter one of your daily heart-healthy activities. It’s as important as being physically active and eating healthy foods. Here are some ideas:

  • Watch a funny movie or TV show.
  • Ready the funny pages.
  • Share a good joke or a funny story.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Goof around with your children.
  • Do something silly.
  • Seek out funny people.
  • Look for the humor in everyday situations.
  • Host a game night with friends.
  • Go to a comedy club.
  • Check out your bookstore’s humor section.
  • Plan fun activities, like bowling, miniature golf or karaoke.

By making humor a regular part of your life, you can have a big impact on your heart health.

Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Kellinahandbasket

3161095736_042f71a9d7_b (1)
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6 tactics for dealing with stress

Everyone knows stress is bad for them. It’s nothing new. But how to deal with it? What triggers it? Goodness. Even thinking about stress levels and stress triggers can be stressful…

Common symptoms of stress can include:

- jaw pain (from clenching jaw or grinding teeth – ouch!)

- headaches

- difficulty sleeping or weird dreams

- acne

- tummy troubles

Enough about the symptoms… what about the solutions?!

1) Take action

Without being proactive, your body will always be on high alert. Taking action to deal with stress will allow your body to “stand down” and relax. Acknowledge stress is inevitable, but be prepared to tackle it head on.

2) Identify the causes

Sometimes it’s easy to identify the cause of stress. A difficult relationship, challenges at work, finances. But sometimes daily stress can add up (i.e. commuting or arranging childcare).

3) Talk it out

You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Get help from your support network – maybe friends or family members. Give your primary care provider (PCP) a call and see if they have any suggestions.

4) Exercise!

Shocker. Exercise is good for your health – duh. It’s a great stress-reliever too. The activity helps you ditch daily tensions and increases your focus. Not only does it help relieve tension – but it is scientifically proven to boost your mood.

5) Be kind to yourself

Positive self-talk is a great way to handle stress. It’s amazing how much negative self-talk can impact your stress levels – and how easy it is to beat yourself up! It may seem awkward, but practice positive self-talk. Try phrases like these:

- I’ve got this

- I can get help if I need it

- We can work it out

- I can deal with this

6) Daily relaxation

No. Not binge watching a Netflix season. True relaxation. The goal of daily relaxation is to calm tension in your mind and body. Examples are yoga, tai chi, writing in a journal, or meditation. Watching 8 episodes of House of Cards will not do this.

Learn more about daily relaxation like meditation and yoga here.

Sometimes it’s more than stress. If you think you have anxiety talk to your doctor, they are here to help you feel your absolute best.

For more information:

Controlling stress: American Heart Association 

Coping with stress: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Amy McTigue

 

 

Beers
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Nip stress-related drinking in the bud

Do you ever drink alcohol because you feel stressed? Studies show that many people do.

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to many health problems, such as increased risk of heart and liver diseases. It can cause nasty hangovers or even alcohol poisoning.

If you are drinking too much, you can get on a healthier path by:

  • Cutting back or quitting
  • Keeping track of how much you drink
  • Avoiding places where too much drinking occurs
  • Finding other ways to deal with stress

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Join us and other organizations in your community to spread the word to help prevent alcohol abuse.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Lindsey G

 

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happy snowman
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Stress less this holiday season

Holidays can be as exciting and fun as they are stressful. If you are anything like me, you wait until the last minute to get all of your holiday arrangements together. This year I am attempting a new tradition: planning ahead!

Some tips I will be following this season that I hope can help you too are:

  1. Make a to-do list with what you have for holidays and what you still need (ex: wrapping paper, gifts, food, tags, etc.)
  2. Set a budget for your gift list and how much you plan to spend on each of your loved ones. This will help keep you from overspending and make sure everyone is taken care of.
  3. Wrap as you go, but leave the tags and bows for last so you can easily store them. If you don’t like wrapping, try using gift bags.
  4. Have some  back up gifts on hand in case you accidentally leave someone out.  Gift cards, cookies, or holiday mugs are always good options that everyone enjoys.
  5. Having a holiday party? Try cleaning the day before and leave the last minute things for the next day. Get your dishware ready to go, clean the restrooms, but leave the sweeping and kitchen for last!
  6. Take time for yourself. Holiday’s are stressful so you need to make time for you. Go for a massage, walk, or read a book. Do something that is just for you.

These are just a few ideas to help get you through the holidays this year! Have any tricks or tips that I didn’t think of? Let me know!

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headband relax
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The Muse: A headband that trains your brain on the beach

Headbands aren’t just for style anymore, they can now help you manage your stress. The new Muse headband from InteraXon will help you learn to focus and effectively manage stress.

Stress is a daily part of our lives but is not always easy to manage. The Muse uses a mindfulness technique that takes you to a scenic sunny beach. When your brain starts to drift,  the scene will change, causing you to focus back on the relaxing beach image.

You can  track your mindfulness activity by adding the app to your phone. You can practice for as little as 3 minutes, so there is no room for the excuse that you don’t have enough time in the day!

This is definitely on my wishlist for Christmas this year! Anything that involves the beach has me hooked.

Do you think this would help you manage your stress? Tell me what you think by commenting below.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Adrian in Bangkok