Hi Strangers! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving of indulgences and are hopping back on that fit train. Since I've been taking a semester to focus on my schoolwork/applying to schools to complete my dietetic internship, I've been MIA, and I apologize! Any downtime I have is spent with my friends and family, and I love being able to have that balance. Because I feel like I haven't sat down in 4 months, I want to write on what I've been doing in order to keep my stress levels as low as possible. We truly don't realize how much stress contributes effects our everyday activities. Stress tends to cast a dark cloud over our happiness, which we sometimes don't even realize. In one study, researchers examined the association between “positive affect” — feelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm — and the development of coronary heart disease over a decade. They found that for every one-point increase in positive affect on a five-point scale, the rate of heart disease dropped by 22 percent (Davidson, 2010). Since I've been learning in class about the effects stress has on our bodies (ex: overeating, weight gain, etc.), it's a timely topic that I felt the need to share. So here are my top 5 tips I've been practicing to deal with stress:
1. Plan ahead- Nothing makes me more anxious than being in a rush, which results in being late. I've learned (and so have my roommates) that I tend to lose my keys on a daily basis, and conveniently, I lose them the moment I need to walk out the door. Solution: designate a spot for your keys that they will always be- I use a command strip hook in my room. In terms of schoolwork, utilize your planner and always be looking 2 weeks out. This will allow you to use your light weeks to get ahead on an intense week coming up.
2. Give yourself "me" time- If you give 110% in what you do, your "me" time will be much-deserved, and well worth it. Nothing's worse than feeling guilty about your "me" time, so give it your all during your hard weeks so that you have a well-earned break during the weekend. Pamper yourself by getting your nails done, going for a drink with friends, or even lighting some candles and binge-watch Netflix for a few hours. I promise you won't regret it!
3. Get your zzz's- It's a 2-way street here; stress affects sleep and sleep affects stress. A study of insomniacs published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that those with the worst sleep produced especially large amounts of ACTH and stress hormones throughout the day and night (Vgontzas, 2001). As difficult as it is to get adequate sleep in college, it is extremely important. It's not easy to fall asleep when you're stressed- I've been there- so find a solution that works for you. For me, Sleepytime Tea and aromatherapy (lavender and chamomile) work wonders. There's also a great app now called "Calm." Try it out!
4. Jog It Out- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function (AADA). Exercise increases your endorphins ("feel good" hormones) that you'll need to push through those long study hours. It also allows you to get your mind off of your irritations because you're focusing on your workout.
5. Remember What You're Doing This For- This is my favorite tip to keep in mind. I find that when I'm stressed, It's usually because I want to perform well in order to get the result I intend to get. We stress because we're studying for an exam that will land us the job we want or we work hard to get that promotion. Sometimes we lose sight on why we're stressed out. Use your dream job or promotion as your motivator in giving it all you got. But of course, don't forget to relax time and again (see #2).
I hope you can put these stress tips to the test and as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding this article or any other q's you may have! Don't forget to go to my "Contact Me" tab and subscribe to my blog! Hope you all have a relaxing, fit, not skinny weekend :)
Davidson, K.W., Mostofsky, E. & Whang, W. (2010). “Don't worry, by happy: Positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: The Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey.” European Heart Journal, 31 , 1065-1070.
Vgontzas, A.N. et al. Chronic insomnia is associated with nyctohemeral activation of the hypothalamic-pituatary-adrenal axis: clinical implications. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolismm. August 2001. 86(8): 3787-3794.
ADAA Physical activity reduces stress. Available at: https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st (Accessed: 1 December 2016).