How I Like to Manage Stress

How I Like To Manage Stress

Stress never goes away. Every single one of us will encounter stress on a regular basis. Since we can’t completely exterminate it, we have to learn to embrace and manage stress instead.

For me, the first four months of this year have been a little more stressful than normal. Surprisingly, I have felt happier than ever though!  It could be that most of my stress is from good things. But even more than that, I feel happy because of my attitude and priorities.

I made a commitment to enjoy and savor every moment of my wedding planning process (or as much as I can).

I made a commitment to put managing stress as top priority.

I think the first commitment is pretty self explanatory. Everyone wants to remember the little things leading up to their big day, as well as the day itself. I also wanted to celebrate with my fiancé on a regular basis. We had already made a commitment to each other by staying in the relationship for so long (going on 7 years), but are solidifying it by getting married. And it has been SO COOL to see how excited we both have been throughout these past several months.

The second commitment is a little more of a challenge. I think stress reduction and management tips are so individualized. What works for me may not work for you. And believe me, I have tried several things I thought would work because it worked for a health guru, but it left me feeling more stressed. Go figure! So, even though I am sharing a few tips that work for me I encourage you to experiment. Find what works best for you!

You can always try a class at the gym or maybe go for a walk solo. Sometimes your health insurance will even help you get going.For example, Oscar Health Insurance in New York and New Jersey gives their members free Misfit activity bands for tracking their steps and also offers reimbursements for gym and yoga studio memberships. I was asked by Oscar Health Insurance how I manage stress and after I responded I kept thinking… this would make a great blog post! So my props goes to them for this post.

Another thing I want to note before I get to my list is that trying to be perfect with stress management can backfire. Did you read that? It can cause more stress. I once set a goal to meditate every day for 15 minutes per day. I also had a misguided perception that this meant the 15 minutes had to be me in a dark room sitting cross-legged with light music and a candle. I had to focus on my breath and keep my mind calm. That didn’t last long for me. It wasn’t until I realized that meditation can be done in SO MANY WAYS that I could experiment and find different ways to meditate and kick my stupid goal to the curb. That was a goal that I ended up more stressed out over because I found myself not always wanting to sit in a dark room. Sometimes I wanted to get outside and move a little. Well strike the harp… moving meditation works! And is way more me.

Let’s get to it… here is my list of stress management techniques that work for me:

  1. Moving Meditation. Some days this looks like a 20 minute yoga session at home (usually with Yoga with Adriene or Tara Stiles with Strala Yoga.) Other days this looks like a 30-50 minute walk outdoors. When I walk outdoors, I always use my Ipod. I LOVE MUSIC! And you know what? Music can ease stress too.
  2. Putting the phone down before bed and reading a book or magazine. Oh man oh man, if I had a dime for every time I thought I could look at my phone before bed and sleep well I would be rich. I know the lesson, but don’t always follow it. However, when I do follow it I sleep like a baby. Not looking at the phone before bed is a game changer for stress reduction and improved sleep! No lie. So here’s to finding more books to read (as long as it isn’t a page turner that keeps me up too late). J
  3. Listening to a guided meditation. I have tried a few different guided meditations and I always turn to the ones from Deepak and Oprah. I love them! I have two: Desire and Destiny and then Perfect Health. I love listening to these every so often (~3 days per week) while on one of my outdoor walks. It is a 21 day guided meditation, but I don’t follow the days. I press shuffle!
  4. Bubble Bath, Tea, or Hot Tub. What do all of these have in common? HEAT! I love hot things… I know, that may sound weird, but I am in Texas after all. Plus, heat really does calm the body and ease the mind. I tend to grab a cup of hot tea, hot water with lemon, or a café misto during the day. If I really need to relax at the end of the day I will take a bubble bath. We also recently got a hot tub so sometimes I will choose that. Both are so soothing!

Now it is your turn, what works best for you?

How do I fit in fitness?

fitness

This post topic could not have come at a more perfect time. I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. Okay, a lot. I love love love my job (and anything I do on the side), but I have hit my max on to do’s. My fitness has not been zeroed out totally, but it isn’t too high on my priority list right now. Same with healthy eating and stress management.

Wait, what?! How is it that the very things that keep us energized and feeling all good and productive go by the wayside when work tasks pile up? It would actually benefit us MORE to spend a little LESS time focusing on work. We could take that little bit of time to move a little, nourish with plenty of fruits and veggies, and breathe.

Sometimes we need that push, though. I know I do. I often need to feel the stress before I take a step back to say… WHOA!!! Joey Lawrence style and do something about it.

Even in the busy, stressful times, I find ways to fit fitness in here and there. Deep down I know that I am SO much better off with 10 minutes of walking than absolutely no walking.  And so that is how I do it. I give myself permission to do a little less, because I know that tomorrow maybe I will give a little more. I don’t get anywhere but down with feeling guilty for not doing a workout or eating an extra cookie so I take guilt out of the equation altogether!

I strongly believe that living a healthy life is about progress, not perfection. I tried the perfectionist thing and it always backfired. So now I just move more… no matter what that looks like. I don’t have to follow strict guidelines of cardio 5 days per week and strength training 3 days per week. I just focus on getting movement in any way. I crave variety so often check in with myself on what I want to do that day. Some days I can’t wait to kick butt with a HIIT workout. Some days all I want to do is go on a calm, peaceful walk. It may be 10 minutes and it may be an hour and half. Each day looks different.. and I love that. It fits my personality and lifestyle.

I also use a Fitbit, which reminds me to take more breaks throughout the day and aim for more steps. I like it and again, it just reminds me to move a little more whenever I can.

I once heard that walking is medicine. I agree. Movement does a body good and it’s a pill I would be happy to take for the rest of my life. What about you? How do you fit fitness in?

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What will you do for Active Nation Day?

Active Nation Day is on September 28th. That is THIS Sunday! What will you do for Active Nation Day? I am going to commit to running a 5K.

Have you heard about Active Nation Day? If not, you may want to watch the video below… it is brought to us by Lorna Jane. The inspirational sportswear brand that I am so in love with these days. I would own a ton of their tops if I had all the money in the world. They serve more than one purpose… yes, they are easy to “move” in for an actual workout, but they also inspire me to believe in myself or go the extra mile. You can see the inspirational tanks I am talking about by clicking here.

I know, I am going all lovey-dovey on Lorna Jane with this post, but I really do love all that this brand stands for. The brand really does GET it. Lorna Jane promotes a Move, Nourish, and Believe lifestyle. You may see people refer to this as “MNB”. So now you know what that stands for if you see it!

As a wellness professional, I too strongly believe in these three elements to healthy living. Most of the time, I nourish my body with wholesome and healthy foods. I choose foods that help me prevent diseases, keep me feeling and looking good, and have the least amount of ingredients possible. The ingredients list is huge for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do make room for treats too. I make time to move my body in some form or fashion every day. I don’t subscribe to one form of exercise. I crave variety and truly enjoy mixing up my physical activity. I currently enjoy running, walking, HIIT workouts, pure barre, body weight strength moves, yoga, PiYo, and dance. I believe in myself. I thrive off of loving myself just as I am. Strong self esteem and a positive outlook are VERY important to keeping a healthy mind and body. In fact, my favorite quote is this by Jack Kerouac… “Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.”

If you are app savvy and like apps that keep you moving, Lorna Jane did just come out with their very own app. You can view the Itunes version by clicking here. As I mentioned above, I love inspirational words so my favorite part of the app is the “Believe” part.  You can hit refresh and view a new inspirational quote anytime you need one.

Lorna Jane herself.

That’s the creator (Lorna Jane Clarkson herself) in the pic above. Isn’t she beautiful?! Anyway, all that to say… I love the brand Lorna Jane and I hope you find as much inspiration from the brand as I do. Most importantly, I hope that you will do something fun and full of movement this Sunday in celebration of Active Nation Day. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!

What is your favorite way to move?

Movement… you’ll never regret it!

Empower Day 18

It is day 18 of my 30 Days of Yoga Empower challenge through Yoga with Adriene. Instead of simply providing an update of how I am doing thus far (but I AM doing fantastic, thanks for asking!), I am devoting this post to movement.

Movement… as in another word for physical activity or exercise that sounds less intimidating.

One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that to get and stay healthy, I have to develop habits over time. Good habits. I like to think other humans work the same. So, perhaps you have found that developing habits over time works for you too (as opposed to the “change everything all at once and then give up in defeat after 4 days” mentality).

Yoga is movement. But so is running, walking, Crossfit, PiYo, Pure Barre, Insanity, Zumba, dance, tennis, and so on. When I truly listen to my body and what it needs, often I am drawn to a certain form of movement that day. Now, I developed this habit over time. When I first started getting active and formally “working out”,  I just had to get into some sort of routine first. And to be honest, I actually loved elliptical machines. I despise them now. But, they helped me develop the regular habit of movement.

Movement is active medicine for your body. It can be free (or relatively inexpensive even if you pay for a gym membership) and really does provide you with more energy and gets those “feel good” hormones activated. Movement is simply something that you’ll never regret! Find different forms of movement that work for you. That you can find delight in, even if it is just a tad bit of it.. come on, you know that doing punches in a kickboxing class makes you feel like you just beat up your old micromanaging boss! 😉

So how does this post on movement even relate to me doing more yoga? Well, yoga helps me be more mindful. And that is a habit I am currently developing. I am working on finding what feels good and using my mind/body connection as a guide. It’s okay if I don’t want to run a marathon today (or ever, really) and it’s also okay if I planned to do yoga, but chose to go for a walk instead. Movement of any kind can provide mind, body, and spiritual benefits.. if you allow it.

With that, I wish you more days of movement! What’s your FAVORITE way to move?