In the recent webinar 10 Gifts for Your Unborn Child, Mary Ellen Maunz, M.Ed., Program Director, Age of Montessori, discusses some of the effects of excessive and/or chronic stress on the body. (If you missed this informative and free webinar, you can catch the replay here.) While stress is a common and even necessary part of life, learning how to manage stress will lead to a happier, healthier mind, body, and spirit. So, without further ado, here is a list 10 stress busting techniques to help us all maintain a little sanity, and just in time for the holi-daze!
1. Eat right for stress reduction. Through diet, we can decrease the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase the amount of serotonin (the good-mood hormone) produced in our bodies. Foods that help reduce stress include those high in fiber and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, and fresh fruit. Foods to avoid include those high in fat, sugar, and caffeine.
2. Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for a healthy adult.
3. Take a daily walk. Studies show that an outdoor walk, for just 20 minutes a day, can elevate mood, decrease stress, and refresh body and mind.
4. Drink a cup of herbal tea. Popular herbal teas such as ginseng, chamomile, and mint are great stress-relievers. Additionally, the very act of sitting down (and slowing down) with a steaming cup in hand, is undeniably soothing and comforting.
5. Listen to music. Music has a direct link to our emotional and physical state of being. Listening to music, especially low-key classical music, can lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol production, and help calm an overly active mind.
6. Try yoga and/or breathing exercises. Yoga teaches us how to quiet our minds and relax our bodies through controlling the breath. As a bonus, yoga can also increase flexibility, balance, and overall fitness level.
7. Get a massage. The benefits of massage go beyond stress management, they also include pain relief, lowering blood pressure, elevating mood, increasing immunity, and relieving muscle stiffness.
8. Give a hug. Have you hugged your spouse, children, or pet today? Hugging is good for you: it instantly reduces stress and improves mood. Hugs can also cut the risk of heart disease, improve immune function, and lower blood pressure. Hugs are also free and without negative side effects!
9. Improve your posture. Not only does good posture make you look better, it also increases circulation, decreases cortisol and makes you feel more confident. This, in turn, elevates mood and reduces stress; so listen to your mother and sit up straight!
10. Talk about it. Human beings are social creatures (yes, even those introverts out there) and nothing beats stress like the camaraderie of family and friends. Take the time to meet a friend for lunch, or call a family member for a quick chat on the phone. Better yet, meet a pal for a walk or bike ride, and reduce stress, increase health, and enrich your social life all at the same time!