April – National Stress Awareness Month

So at the beginning of this month I got contacted by Vegas.com.

And I was like, “What the heck could they be contacting me for!?!”

Her email was about April being National Stress Awareness Month and it asked me what I did to “let loose” and be in a “Vegas State of Mind.”

It got me to thinking about stress, how it affects our health and the things we can do to fight it.

I honestly have come to believe that stress is a HUGE determining factor in how healthy we are.

EVERYTHING in our life comes down to stress – everything is both affected by it and influences how we perceive and deal with stress.

Stress is both a cause and a results of our daily actions and habits.

Stress is part of what I call the Five Pillars of Health:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

These five pillars are all interconnected to make us healthy or unhealthy. You aren’t really HEALTHY if you just focus on one.

Health is about balancing ALL of the pillars.

But while I often discuss how to be more active or create a healthy diet, I don’t often discuss how to deal with stress.

Stress is very unique. It isn’t something we can fully control yet it isn’t out of our control.

While stress may creep in without you realizing, you can STOP stress in its tracks.

You can choose to reverse your attitude, yes stress is all about attitude, and calm yourself down.

It isn’t always easy, but it is possible.

Below are some thing I do to relax and de-stress every day:

  • 15 minutes of ME-TIME –  Be it watching something I want on TV, going for a walk with Coconut or simply lying on the ground staring at the ceiling, I take 15 minutes to just not DO anything during the day. On a good day, I do this a few times. I just get up and leave the work behind for a bit so that I can take a chance to BREATHE! Everyone has 15 minutes. Take that time for yourself even if you simply use it to dance around your kitchen to some music!
  • BREATHE – We can control our breathing and our breathing can be very linked to how stressed we feel. When you are anxious, your breathing changes from when you are relaxed. Slow down your breathing as if you were relaxed and you WILL relax. Focus on slow inhales, holding the air and then an extra slow exhale. Just a few slow breaths can relax your body and mind and allow you to refocus.
  • Take a second to laugh – When I find my anxiety level rising, I try to step away from the situation a bit and make myself think of something else. Often I find it best to go do something, even for a second, that makes me smile or laugh. When we are in a stressful situation, we tend to get more and more overwhelmed as time goes on if we can’t remove ourselves and get a clear perspective. Just take a second and step away. Allow yourself to calm down and when you come back with a better ATTITUDE, you may find the situation doesn’t have to be stressful at all.
  • Exercise – Be it a short walk around the block or an intense session at the gym, I do something to be active every day. Not only does the activity itself boost your mood, but getting away from life and giving yourself something new and immediate to focus on can help your stress level.

Also, to help myself unwind at points during the week, I take nice relaxing walks with Coconut and Ryan.

We don’t power walk. Just a nice comfortable pace where we can talk and enjoy the sunshine.

hike in orange county

We unplug and leave behind technology so that all we can do is focus on being together and enjoying the time away from everything.

Hiking for us has always been a way to relax.

We can chat with no interruptions and talk through both things that are bothering us or stressing us out and things that we are excited for in the coming future. We can release the tension we may have been holding and share our excitement.

The fact that we can talk while unbothered by work or anything else, really helps us unwind. And being outside playing in the sunshine doesn’t hurt either (Vitamin D another pillar of health!).

Actually, I was amused when I got asked this question by the woman from Vegas.com. I was amused because “hiking/walking” is the first thing that comes to my mind when someone asks me what I do for stress release – AND outside of Vegas on a HIKE, 4 years ago, Ryan and I actually got engaged.

Random, but we did. On a hike in Red Rock Canyon.

hike in red rock canyon

Anyway, what do you do to unwind? Do you unplug from life a little each day or do you take long breaks once or twice a week?

What are your favorite ways to “let loose?”

Posted on April 24, 2014, in Recovery and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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