With the upcoming return of fall weather, football, sweatshirts and turning leaves, also comes the stress of getting the kids back to school. Even if you don’t have children, fall is still a time of reflection, fresh starts, and getting prepared for the winter months. No matter what is going on in your life, fall can be a time of stress, so we have put together a list of Stress Busters to help you remain sane during the next few months. Although there are hundreds of ways to combat stress, here are ten of our favorites for you:
1. Eat natural, fresh, in-season, whole foods. Fall fruits and vegetables include: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, winter squash, ginger, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and turnips. A whole food diet is the best way to increase your energy, feel happier, and stay healthy, even when you feel stressed out. Whole foods are in their natural state and have not been processed in any way. Some examples are fresh produce, meats, eggs, nuts or seeds.
2. Get out there and move – even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day. Take a hike in the woods, walk around the block, play an outdoor game with your kids or family, or even take up a new sport such as rock climbing, martial arts, bowling, indoor volleyball, roller skating, or yoga. There are a ton of activities that are fun and don’t feel like exercise. Research has shown that exercise produces natural endorphins that help you battle depression sometimes better than medication.
3. Sing loudly in the car, shower, or your home to a favorite song or album. Use your voice to project your pent up stress. Better yet, play music while cleaning the house and sing and dance around to the music while you vacuum or dust. Nobody will see you except your family. They might look at you a little funny, but will probably just shrug it off and go find something else to do to avoid helping you clean.
4. Write it down. Keep a journal next to your bed to write in when you first wake up in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. When you first wake up, take a little time to write down everything that is running through your head. Maybe it’s something at work, finances, family issues, or worry about the future. Whatever it is, get it out of your head and down on paper. Don’t hold back! Write the words how you hear them in your head. The point is not to write things down in an organized manner, but get out any emotions or worries you may have. You will be amazed at how much lighter and better you feel! If you can’t take the time in the morning, write your thoughts down before you go to bed to remember things you want to do the next day or just reflect on what has already happened. Journaling is a great way to help your mind relax and allow you to get to sleep.
5. Speaking of sleep: GET ENOUGH! The recommended amount is 7 to 8 hours per night, but your individual needs may be different. Studies show that even a little bit of sleep deprivation can affect your mood, hunger hormones, stress level, memory and productivity during the day. Start by unplugging all electronics an hour before you go to bed and establishing a night time routine. Do your journal writing, read a book, make a list of things to do the next day, take a warm bath, or enjoy a cup of tea. Do whatever makes you happy and relaxed.
6. Try to pick a time every day that is just about you. Find 10 minutes and just sit and relax. If you can’t find it at home, park your car somewhere on your way home from work or an errand. Lock yourself in the bathroom with a good book or a bubble bath. Take a walk, meditate, or do whatever you need to do to find that little bit of calm. When you are more relaxed, you are happier and better able to deal with the demands of work and/or family life.
7. Find other people that love the same things you do. Whether it is singing karaoke, dining out, playing a sport, reading, sewing, or any other hobby, there is someone else out there that loves it, too. Check out meetup.com or other websites for a group to join.
8. Talk to your pets. Tell them everything that stresses you out and how you would like to handle the situation. Animals are great listeners and offer no commentary or judgement – only unconditional love. Just verbalizing your stress can help you talk through the issue and make you feel better. **Did you know that holding or playing with a pet (or even watching fish swim in a tank) relieves stress and lowers your blood pressure?**
9. Laugh. Go to a funny movie. Tell a few jokes. Post a funny picture. Play a game with your family. Create fun wherever you go! Even just the simple act of smiling when you don’t feel like it can boost your mood and that of others around you.
10. Be thankful. When you focus on what you DO have, rather than what you don’t have, you will realize that there will always be someone else out there in a worse situation than you are, and life is short. Live it to the fullest.