Stress lowers your immunity, impairs your ability to make healthy choices, lowers your willpower and leads to long term health complications- yet it doesn’t seem to get nearly as much attention this time of year compared to diet and exercise. If you’re making resolutions to get in shape, feel better and eat healthier- it might be smart to supplement those goals with a resolution to work on reducing stress in the new year.
Reducing stress should be a pillar to a healthy lifestyle- it can bolster your overall health and boost your ability to form new habits. How many times have you been cruising along on a goal to lose weight or avoid junk food when a stressful situation in your personal life triggers your hand to reach for the candy bowl? Ya, me too.
This year, it’s going to be just as important to stress-less if you’re going to be a healthier you in 2015! Here are some of the things I’ll be working on this year to get on track with my health, and I’ve teamed up with Kohl’s to #MakeYourMove to find ways to energize, enliven & find joy in the everyday through healthy living.
The last two years, I fell off the journaling bandwagon, but need to get back on. I used to journal every week or so during grad school when I just needed to get things out of my head and onto paper. Frequently, stress is much worse when it’s circulating in our head on repeat. Being able to take 30 minutes a week to drop thoughts helped me process tremendously.
Are you like me? I totally surf Instagram when I get into bed. I check emails and then I probably pin a few things on Pinterest. I’ve told myself it helps me “wind down,” but honestly- I spend a lot longer trying to get to sleep and my mind wanders. Being able to focus on winding down and actually getting to sleep quickly when I’m in bed means breaking the phone habit.
Believe it or not, I couldn’t touch my toes for a long time. Despite the fact I was in a biking accident growing up which meant I was in a wheelchair for a year, I never really did much to increase my flexibility once I was walking again. I really suck at yoga and it’s something I’d like to work on since my range of motion is still pretty limited and I sit all day for my job. Most of us fail to realize how much sitting and inactivity can increase the stress and strain on our bodies- taking regular stretch breaks can reduce stress, headaches and strain.
When I couldn’t afford to get into see a massage therapist, I have done regular at-home sessions using a foam roller and it did wonders to relieve my stress and tension headaches. During periods of high stress, taking time to go get a massage or take 5 minutes to roll out tight muscles at home has been a lifesaver. This year, I’m going to get back in the habit of using a foam roller at home instead of simply reaching for the aspirin.
I’m going to spend more time this year listening to podcasts and music that contribute to an overall good mood & reduce stress. Often, we put on music to align with our moods, but the power of sound is influential in changing your mood to a better one. If you want to reduce stress, find something to reroute your thinking and thus your mood by tuning into an educational or inspirational podcast (or one that makes you laugh). I have a few favorite podcasts I turn to and they always improve my mood.
I have never been big on meditation the way that most people do it- sitting for hours and chanting has never appealed to me. The medical benefits of meditation, even in small doses has been proven to reduce stress and some of my friends swear that even 10 minutes of meditation and a clear mind in the morning is a quick, but effective ritual to reduce stress levels without a ton of time to spare.