Voting stress. Enough said. Most of us would probably agree that the last year has been fraught with “political stress“. As we get closer to election day, stress heightens, blood pressures rise, and nerves are on edge. Election talk seems to permeate every corner from the home and office to social media to neighborhood talk. In some cases, election talk creates rifts between family members and friends. It can become one hot mess. Here are some tips to keep you sane…
- Educate yourself on the candidates
- Accept that we all have a right to our opinion
- Accept that you probably will not change another person’s opinion
- Realize that your opinion may be just as “objectionable” to others as theirs is to you!
- Remember – political parties and politics are labels; at the bottom of it all is a person
- Choose how much media you let into your life from polling info, to the evening news, to social media banter
- Take care of yourself; that means step away from a discussion when you need to; don’t engage
- Keep perspective in all things
- Manage your stress and practice good health habits
- Be kind
Are Mondays your least favorite day of the week? The Monday Blues can be a passing tiredness, an indication of a poor job fit, or a screaming need for an attitude adjustment. If hopeless, tired, sad, stressed, overwhelmed, impatient, and unpleasant pretty much describe you on Monday mornings – you may need to do something. Why? Because you deserve better and so do your co-workers! If Monday Madness has grabbed you and you feel you may be a victim of The Blues, check out some of these ideas…
- Identify the problem; if your work leaves you feeling underappreciated, stressed, and overwhelmed – name it and claim it; then you can start dealing with it
- Don’t dwell on Mondays like a looming dark cloud that dumps on your weekend
- Get sunlight and fresh air on your weekend – refresh!
- Be ready for Monday … start on Sunday by getting your food and clothes lined out; synch up your calendar
- Dress like you want to be at work – it makes a difference!
- Practice good self-care – don’t overdo Sunday with heavy foods/drinks
- Get some sleep! Lack of shut eye makes everything and everyone more difficult
- Focus on the things you are excited about in the week ahead
- Eat a good breakfast
- Try not to over-pack your weekend; have some down time
- Have a positive attitude; use positive self-talk while you drive into work
- Maintain a manageable Monday work schedule – keep it light when you can
When people see you, does everything on the outside seem serene and picturesque? But on the inside do you feel fuzzy, frazzled, or empty? It could be you need to do a little work on your well-being. There is a big difference between wellness and well-being, though we often use the terms interchangeably. Wellness is a state of health; well-being is more holistic – it includes a sense of happiness, prosperity, emotional and social health, and life satisfaction. It is the bigger picture – the whole life experience. Well-being is so important, it is even addressed and defined by the Centers for Disease Control. So how is your well-being? Here are some tips to achieving a better sense of well-being
- Work out
- Calm the chaos
- Eat and drink good stuff
- Enjoy quality “me” time
- Enjoy quality “we” time
- Love where you live
- Love where you work
- Look good
- Be happy
For some, the holidays can feel almost toxic, or at the very least painful. If the holidays feel like a month-long panic attack to you, try these tips
- Uni-task; don’t multi-task
- Create a playlist that soothes your soul
- Learn to say “no” and mean it
- Set healthy boundaries
- Let others host the party, make the dinner, plan the event
- More tips on saving your sanity
- Unhappy memories of past holidays
- Life changes: death, divorce, moves
- Those relatives who would be difficult in any situation…
- Monotony and expectations…that same old same old
- Lowered defenses – your body and spirit are stressed
How kind are you – to YOU? Are you way too quick to judge yourself for a “poor” decision, a missed alarm, a harsh word, a sugar binge, letting your gym membership lapse…and countless other choices? Don’t be your own toughest critic! “Should-ing” yourself is not an attractive quality and it creates harmful stress. Try this idea instead – only say things to yourself that you would say to your best friend. Developing patience and self-compassion take work. Try small steps to stop being so hard on yourself. Bottom line – be kind to yourself; you are worth it! Your health and well-being will benefit from your new found attitude. Share ways you have learned to have self-compassion.
Financial problems rate among the top causes of stress, often resulting in high blood pressure, sleepless nights, lively “discussions” with the family, headaches, back aches, and on and on. Many of us avoid the pain of thinking about or dealing with our finances. Some of us think about them to excess. One thing is certain, our finances can have a direct effect on our overall sense of wellbeing. But, can you be financially well with a negative bottom line? Is it as simple as changing the lens with which you view happiness or success? Can you change your reality? Some positive psychologists think so; listen to this TED Talk with Dr. Shawn Achor. If positive psychology and changing your lens just doesn’t do it for you, maybe you need to consider a more practical approach to money management. The bottom line – whether you think financial wellness is an attitude, a reality or somewhere between, your finances deserve your consideration. Put your mind to work on ways you can make your finances a little more “healthy”. Don’t know where to start? Check out the Idaho Financial Literacy Coalition and the Idaho Department of Finance’s financial literacy links and resources.
“I love the holidays but I want to practice damage control this year…” my coworker stated as she left my office. It sounds fairly clinical, but it’s true. The magic of the Season can lead one down the path of destruction and compromise! What gets compromised? – nutrition, budget, sleep habits, exercise, YOU! I did a quick review of my last two weeks. I traded away two trips to the gym to finish holiday house decorations. I traded away at least three trips to the grocery store for after-work holiday get-togethers. Tonight I am trading sleep time and relaxation to get the holiday cards written. UGH! There’s hope – you can stop the madness. Practice damage control…
- Make a budget for entertainment, food, and gifts
- Schedule exercise; put it on your calendar
- Prepare at least one healthy meal every day
- Quit the “clean plate club”
- Eat slowly; savor your food
- Have a plan before you arrive at a buffet or office potluck
- Meet with friends around events, not food
- Let go of perfectionism!
- Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should; guard your time
- De-stress with three yoga tips
- Slow down, take a breath; be in the moment, not on your way to the next moment!
Guess what? Thanksgiving can actually increase your wellness, health, and happiness. Giving thanks and having gratitude are very healthy habits and they reduce stress. This Thanksgiving, before things get crazy, take time to tune in to what matters in your life. Consider these questions…
- Name 5 people you are grateful for
- Name 5 physical abilities you are grateful for
- Name 5 material possessions you are grateful for
- Name 5 things that happened today for which you are grateful
- Name 5 things you are grateful for in nature
- Name 5 things you are grateful for about you!
I know what you’re thinking – who doesn’t have stress? It’s a fact of life. True, but there are lots of things you can do to manage chronic daily stress. And, there are many reasons beyond headaches and ragged relationships to pay attention to your stress level. The biggest reason – it affects your health. Stress can cause your immune system to falter, it can play havoc with your blood pressure and heart rate, your digestive system can go crazy and your appetite can go whacky. When stress levels are high, creativity goes out the door and options don’t seem to exist. One of the biggest downsides to stress – it ages you! Who needs that? So get on it! Visit the Stress Center for coping resources. Try some natural relaxation techniques to chill out. Only have 5 minutes? That’s okay – try these ideas. Quick tips to keep your stress in check:
- Meditate – it’s a mini vacation!
- Practice deep breathing
- Practice yoga
- Spend time with positive people
- Connect – get (or give) a hug!
- Get up and move – stretch it out
- Get some sunlight
- Take a nap
- Change your environment – take a 5 minute walk
- Read a book
- Take a day trip
Before your holidays get to the pressure-cooker stage, take a minute. Reduce holiday stress; create the holiday you want. Keep the joy and the stress of family in perspective… from family dinners and obligations to family traditions. While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep a healthy heart during the holiday season. Try these tips to keep the pressure-cooker lid on!
- Be realistic about what you can accomplish this season
- Simplify your holiday plans
- Make a budget…and stick to it!
- Be active whenever you can
- Take a minute – sit, close your eyes, breathe
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep most nights
- Eat nutritious meals when you can
- Ask for hlep when you need it
- Forgive and forget
- Use the Stress Center resources. There are tip sheets, video clips, books, articles, and powerpoints.
Of course I’m “fatigued” – isn’t everybody? I have a pretty good idea why and like most people, I just want to know how to fix it. Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or a lack of energy. Fatigue can often be traced to habits and routines…sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress, schedules, unrealistic expectations and on and on. So, how do you kick vigor back into life without making a major life change or upsetting everything? Check out these tips to boost energy levels. Two that always surprise me are relaxation and exercise. They seem so wrong when I am already dragging my wagon! Relaxation techniques – yoga, breathing, mindfulness – actually break the drain that anxiety has on your energy level. Movement and exercise boost energy. Another close link exists between the quality of your sleep and fatigue. For tips on getting a better night’s sleep, check out How’s Your Sleep? Fight fatigue! check out 10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Revitalize Your Life.
Probiotics, herbal remedies, yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, natural products, and more … can be considered complementary and alternative medicine or “CAM”. So what’s CAM all about? Complementary medicine is generally used in addition to standard medical care you receive from your doctor; alternative medicine is generally in place of standard medical care. As you consider different forms of CAM, check out these key points. Make thoughtful choices. Know the benefits. Take charge of your health and be an informed consumer of CAM. Information is out there! Is there an area in your life where you use complementary or alternative medicine?
We’re getting down to the wire on holiday shopping. If you’re still searching for that perfect gift idea…think health! There are many, many health and wellness gifts that promote activity, good nutrition, and de-stressing. Couldn’t we all use that? There are great holiday gift ideas on the Mayo Clinic site…things I had never thought of like food games, canning starter sets, and more. Clean eating is the big buzz and there are cookbooks on Amazon that might be perfect along with lots of 100 calorie snack packs for stocking stuffers. Want to get your kids more active? Give gifts that encourage movement…balls, jump ropes, pedometers, bikes, skate boards. Create gift certificates for fun family activities. How about getting more active in the office? Resistance bands, free weights, pedometers, heart rate monitors, walking shoes, workout DVD’s…all belong in the office. De-stress gifts are everywhere – yoga mats, stress squeeze balls, massage coupons, manicures, scented oils, relaxation music. The list is endless. So put away the fudge recipe and the caramel corn bag. Let’s get back to stuffing that stocking with a new toothbrush, dental floss, and an orange. Who knew my parents were light years ahead of the game?! What healthy last-minute gifts do you have?
Walking the dog has huge health benefits – for you. Incidently, it’s a pretty good deal for your furry friend as well. Some of those benefits include lower blood pressure, a lower BMI, and a trimmer waistline; it’s a great way to fight the Obesity Epidemic. Read more on Arthritis Today. The biggest ‘aha’ I got from walking my Izzy Dog every night was the community benefit of pets. I had no idea there were so many people out every evening, rain or shine, walking their dogs. I found neighbors I never knew I had! People stop, visit, share information, and create bonds. Not only do I feel part of a neighborhood community, I feel safer knowing my neighbors. So get out there and get walking; enjoy the health benefits! Izzy and I are going tonight.