Got Stress? So What Are You Going to Do About It?

walking

Everyone has stress and if we don’t manage our stress it can get the better of us. Stress can cause headaches, sleep problems, stomach issues, fatigue, changes in sex drive, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, sadness, anger, physical illness, loss of focus…the list goes on and on.

We all have a choice of how to deal with our stress. We can choose to deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, substance abuse, and/or social isolation/withdrawal; however, these things will not resolve the issue and will add additional issues that will ultimately have to be dealt with. Don’t get me wrong a box of chocolates, a glass of wine and a bathtub full of bubbles can relieve stress (um – or so I have heard) – but it will be a temporary fix that you (I) may regret in the morning.

So – let’s say we are going to deal with our stress in a more positive and healthy way. How are we going to do that? I plan to explore this in a series of posts.

My number one go to stress reliever (assuming I am resisting the urge to eat a half gallon of ice cream) is physical activity. My fall back physical activity is a nice long, brisk walk. Not a leisurely walk around the block, but a 3-4 mile walk at a 3.5 – 4 mile per hour pace. If I have a trusted friend/confidant to walk and talk it out with, that is a bonus at times. At other times walking while listening to music that speaks to me or listening to a great book on tape can get me out of my head for long enough to relieve the stress.

A few tips to keep in mind if you try walking to tame you stress:

1. Invest in a good pair of shoes with appropriate support that fit your feet. I find that running shoes are best. Go to store that will fit you for shoes. You can buy them somewhere else, but find out what shoes will work best for you.

2. Check with your physician prior to starting any new physical activity. Work your way up to the distance and speed that you find is “enough” to work out the stress.

3. Body Alignment is important. Don’t wear your shoulders as earrings-roll your shoulders back and down. Don’t allow them to creep up as you walk. Keep your head up and your eyes focused 10 to 15 feet in front of you.

4. Be safe – pick a safe area to walk; let someone know where you are going; invest in road id/carry identification with you; don’t assume that the guy in the car sees you – make eye contact with drivers before you step out in front of them.

6. Use headphones that allow you to hear what is going on around you.

7. Try not to fall over (other people do that too, right? No – just me?).

I always feel less stressed , physically and mentally, after walking it out. I often figure out the source of my stress and even resolve issues during long walks. Recently, attending boot camp classes has had a similar effect, but really no option for talking it out with a good friend during boot camp. It is another physical activity option that I now have in my wheelhouse.

The challenge for me is always making the decision to deal with my stress in a healthy manner, to lace up my shoes and get moving. What are your go to stress relievers? I would love to hear your ideas.

Find Your Om Balance – Terri