Monday, February 2, 2009

Stressed Out??

I get a weekly newsletter from Reader's Digest (I have no idea why), but I usually enjoy reading everything in it. Today, I received the newsletter and it had this great list of 79 Instant Stress Busters that I thought I would share with everyone.

Here’s the article in its’ entirey:

Stressed-Out Nation

We’re a stressed-out nation: We work too much, sleep too little, skimp on exercise, eat the wrong foods. And if the nail biting and teeth grinding aren’t bad enough, just look at what stress does to you on the inside: Blood pressure revs up and immune system function slows down, leading to any number of health problems, not to mention the six top causes of death like heart disease and cancer. Relax! Here are 79 quick tips and tricks to use anytime you need to chill out – before the big meeting, after that argument with your spouse, as you’re racing through your daily to-do list. Try these, and you’ll feel just fine.

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Quick Stat #1: Be aware of the top 10 stressors: sick family member, money, your own health, children, work, personal safety, state of the world, terrorism or natural disasters, intimate relationships, discrimination based on race or ethnicity.

Quick Stat #2: Consider this -- Nearly half of all Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their lives. Source: American Psychological Association 2006 Stress Survey.

Quick Stat #3: You’re not alone: 30% of workers claim they are working longer hours compared with this time last year, with 32% saying that they are experiencing more on-the-job stress (Source: Adeco North America).

From rd.com - January 2008

  1. Roll up your area rugs and walk around the house barefoot, like you’re on a beach house vacation.
  2. Crawl between soothing sheets, freshly washed with scented detergent or linen rinse, such as Tide Simple Pleasures lavender and vanilla.
  3. Pop some bubble wrap. Can’t find the real thing? Go to virtual-bubblewrap.com.
  4. Quickie yoga: Standing, bend and place palms on your thighs. With chin parallel to the floor, breathe in and arch your chest forward; breathe out and arch it up like a cat.
  5. Blow up a balloon in slow, three-second puffs.
  6. Stare at the blue sky (a calming color) and watch the clouds float by.
  7. Watch a two-minute replay of The Office at nbc.com/theoffice.
  8. Mini-massage: Lie on your back and position a tennis ball under the tense points—your lower back, between your shoulder blades, etc. Roll gently up and down and side to side.
  9. Soak a hand towel and microwave for two minutes until steamy. Place on back of neck, on face or computer-achy hands.
  10. Power off your computer so the screen goes blank and that ever-present buzz stops. Think of a fantasy place—the beach, the mountains, playing at home with your kids—for five minutes before rebooting.
  11. Visit rd.com for the cartoon of the day.
  12. Pick up a bouquet of purple lisianthus and light blue or green hydrangea, which have a calming effect. Place in a glass bowl so you can see the water, and keep it on your desk.
  13. Take a punch at the Desktop Speed Bag from Everlast (amazon.com) and pummel away stress as needed.
  14. Stare at a picture of Monet’s Water Lilies.
  15. Dab lavender body oil on your wrist and sniff a few times.
  16. Squirt StressLess mouth spray, packed with passionflower and cinchona, under your tongue three times a day (sprayology.com).
  17. Drink green tea—packed with theanine, which increases the brain’s output of relaxation-inducing alpha waves and reduces the output of tension-making beta waves.
  18. DIY reflexology: Tap the tips of your fingers together to clear your head. Or, hold one finger at a time between your other thumb and finger and roll the finger like a pencil. Believe it or not, this is thought to relax neck muscles and improve circulation.
  19. Play a free version of Bejeweled 2 or Bookworm on popcap.com. Designed by a stress doctor, these games require concentration and focus without violence or adrenaline.
  20. Touch a talisman or object that has meaning to you—your grandmother’s crucifix, a shell you found on the beach as a child, a cherished stuffed animal—and let pleasant memories seep in.
  21. Quickie yoga: Sitting down, as you inhale, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Exhale, relaxing your tongue. Repeat.
  22. Drink a glass of cold water, then go for a walk outside. The water gets your blood moving and the air invigorates by stimulating the endorphins that distress you.
  23. Break your focus—stir your coffee backward, close your eyes and hum a song, drink your soda in exactly 24 sips.
  24. Log on to theonion.com for hilarious fake newspaper stories.
  25. Take a steamy shower with a luxurious gel such as Aveeno Stress Relief Body Wash with lavender, chamomile and ylang-ylang.
  26. Mini massage: Starting on the bone directly behind your earlobe, apply gentle pressure with your thumb and forefinger and follow to the top of your ear, two or three times. Then rub briskly.
  27. Order black tea instead of coffee. A study by University College London shows that drinking black tea four times a day for six weeks lowered the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event.
  28. Place a heating pad or pack such as ThermaCare HeatWrap underneath clothing on your tight shoulders or lower back.
  29. Squeeze a stress ball for two seconds, then release. Once your muscles begin to relax, the tension will slowly go away.
  30. Hold your loved one’s hand. Brain scans show the contact provides immediate relief from stress.
  31. Quickie yoga: Sit up straight, and let your arms drop limp at your sides. Inhale, and on the exhale lean forward and rest your chest on your thighs. Slowly come up and inhale.
  32. Light a lavender candle and inhale the fragrance in three long, slow breaths through your nose. Let the air out slowly through your lips, only strong enough to make the flame flicker.
  33. Hold a sleeping baby.
  34. Moisten a lavender and chamomile eye tea bag and place over strained eyes.
  35. Race your dog around the backyard.
  36. Keep a desk toy, such as the executive Slinky, handy for a few seconds of that hypnotic hand-to-hand “schling, schling” sound effect.
  37. Quickie yoga: While reading e-mail, breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make the out-breath two times longer than the in-breath.
  38. Slather on Johnson’s Melt Away Stress body lotion, which in studies reduced tension and anxiety by 50 percent.
  39. Quickie yoga: When seated or standing, pull your shoulders back and down—good posture and alignment brings oxygen directly to your brain to help you think more clearly.
  40. Rub the palms of your hands together vigorously to create heat. Quickly place hands over each closed eye and relax for a full minute.
  41. Play a song by Norah Jones. A recent study found that people who listened to slow-paced tunes had lower heart rate and blood pressure than those who listened to faster songs.
  42. Take a walk in a natural setting—a park, field, the woods.
  43. Forgive someone.
  44. Cross your bare foot over your opposite leg, and place one thumb at the base of the pinkie where the soft sole meets the ball. Bend toes forward and back with the other hand as your thumb massages up toward the big toe, in this diaphragm-relaxing move.
  45. Repeat three times: “I’m doing the best I can,” and accept that you can’t control the current situation.
  46. When the phone rings, wait to answer until the third or fourth ring. Breathe deeply a few times and tell yourself to relax.
  47. Rub warm sesame oil (found in health food stores, not the cooking aisle) on your forehead. Sesame, a calming salve, is the only oil that penetrates all seven layers of the skin.
  48. Write down every possible solution to the problem you are facing. Then let it go. Then write down everything you are thankful for.
  49. Keep a running list of compliments and kudos on your computer or in your journal. Read the list when you’re frazzled and down.
  50. Quickie yoga: Standing up straight, put the ball of one foot on top of the other. As you breathe in, bring arms up over your head and touch palm to palm. Bring hands down on the exhale and repeat on the other side.
  51. Do a free relaxation exercise at stressremedy.com.
  52. Pat a kitten.
  53. Say a prayer.
  54. DIY reflexology: Tug your earlobe with your thumb and forefinger. Gently pull and let your fingers slide off the ear.
  55. Plug in a jasmine-scented air freshener (such as Glade Plug-In). Research subjects who slept in a jasmine-scented room snoozed better and were more alert the next day than those who didn’t.
  56. Take a walk and think about five things you are thankful for. Research shows it’s physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time.
  57. Visit topfive.com for a funny top five list every day.
  58. Think of someone you love and read your favorite romantic poem aloud.
  59. When you encounter a discourteous driver, try to shift focus to all the good drivers around you. Just five minutes of positive focus raises immune system function for six hours, while focusing on those you resent has the opposite effect.
  60. Spray peppermint Motor Mist Spritz in your car. Peppermint, studies show, decreases anxiety and fatigue while driving, easing frustration behind the wheel.
  61. Quickie yoga in the car: Before you start the ignition, lay arms palms up in your lap, take a deep breath through your nose. As you exhale, stick your tongue out and try to touch the tip of your chin. Then, your eyes looking up between your brows, bring your hands up as if you were going to pounce and roar as loudly as you can.
  62. Remember being soothed to sleep by a bedtime story? Pop in an audiobook narrated by Barbara Caruso, one of AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voices. Her newest: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery.
  63. Chew cinnamon gum, which gave study subjects more energy and alertness, cutting down on stress.
  64. Go to Lime.com. Enter the “room” of your choice—winter room, floral room, forest room, water room or Zen room—launch it and watch a calming nature image slowly appear on your screen, mesmerizing you as it disintegrates and reforms into a new scene every 10 seconds.
  65. Melaniegriffith.com’s meditation room lets you pick a mantra for one of six different topics, including health, relationships and spirituality, which you repeat while watching a video of nature close-ups.
  66. Gracecathedral.org has an online “finger” version of the Labyrinth, an ancient maze on which you can walk as you reflect and meditate.
  67. Onegoddessway.com gives you a choice of several soothing nature scenes with audio, including a tranquil waterfall and fire in a hearth.
  68. Drink a glass of milk. It contains tryptophane, which as it is metabolized is converted to mood-boosting serotonin. Plus, its calcium, magnesium and potassium content may help keep blood pressure down.
  69. Eat broccoli and low-fat ranch dip. Broccoli has folic acid, which aids stress reduction.
  70. Enjoy sorbet with a vanilla sugar wafer. Sugary foods decrease levels of anxiety-producing hormones, specifically through the production of glucocorticoid, a stress hormone linked to storing more fat in the belly. Just a little sugar on the tongue is enough to produce a feel-good effect, so don’t overdo it!
  71. Have a whole grain English muffin with jam or honey. Complex carbohydrate-rich foods raise serotonin levels, boosting your mood and helping you relax.
  72. Snack on a handful of nuts. They’re packed with magnesium, which seems to help keep cortisol levels low. Nuts are high in calories, so if you’re watching your weight, make sure not to eat more than a dozen a day.
  73. Savor some salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids help brain cells to function more collaboratively, helping you to deal with stress more effectively.
  74. Indulge in some dark chocolate. By far the most potent endorphin-producing food on earth, chocolate contains more than 300 different compounds, including anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana’s effects on the brain, and theobromine, a mild stimulant. Look for imported dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more.
  75. Drink hot cocoa. Warm drinks raise your body temperature—a feeling we associate with comfort, so it triggers a similar response in our brains.
  76. IN-Fused Chocolate. Handcrafted from imported dark organic Dutch chocolate, this bar has 150 mg of L-theanine, as well as aromatic oils such as lavender and chamomile (Intelligent Nutrients).
  77. Top stress-relieving aromatherapy scents to keep around the house: orange, grapefruit, lemon rosemary, peppermint, rose, sweet marjoram, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang.
  78. Stress-reduction tip from ER doctor John Rogers, MD, Bolingbroke, Georgia: “For a while I wore a little gold halo-shaped pin on my sleeve. It would remind me to ‘be an angel,’ to stay focused on keeping peace inside me and be compassionate toward others regardless of all the stresses that surrounded me.”
  79. A tip from air traffic controller Mike Clark, Newark, New Jersey: “I call my girlfriend, parents or friends. Just hearing their voice is a great escape and helps me to decompress.”

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