Category Archives: Stress

Hope: the Ultimate Superfood

You already know that it’s important to eat your leafy veggies and blueberries, rich in antioxidants. But did you know that hope is the ultimate superfood?

A superfood is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” Hope offers emotional nourishment that improves emotional and physical health and lengthens life. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the health benefits of an optimistic outlook. Dr. David Snowdon found that positive emotional content in essays written during young adulthood predicted lifespan—those who had a more positive outlook lived 6.9 years longer than their pessimistic counterparts. Similarly, other research has shown that optimism is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and lower death rates.

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Increase Calm and Self-Control with this 5-minute Daily Practice

Where can you carve-out five minutes? How about before you get out of bed after your alarm goes off? Or maybe you can claim five minutes after your morning coffee, at work while sitting at your desk, or in the car before you drive to the grocery store. Really, you can do this practice almost anywhere.

In fact, you’re already doing one part of this practice all day long – breathing. The only added step is to pay close attention. Breathing usually happens outside of conscious awareness, but focusing on your breath is one of the most powerful strategies for managing stress and increasing self-control. It can even help with treating anxiety and depression.

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Healthy Emotional Eating

Do you ever soothe yourself with food after a hard day? Usually we think of emotional eating as turning to unhealthy comfort food when we are upset. But you can attend to your mood by making healthy eating choices. With a few yummy substitutions in your snack drawer, you can improve your psychological and physical health.

Blood sugar fluctuations can be associated with moodiness. Stabilize yourself emotionally while managing your weight by eating healthy snacks in between smaller meals. For example, you might consider putting a baggie of nuts and dark chocolate chips into your purse or desk drawer to keep yourself consistently fueled and emotionally even. Dark chocolate seems to improve mood by boosting endorphins. Continue reading

Coping with Change

As the saying goes, change is the only constant. Given this truth, why is change so stressful?

The brain has a function similar to a motion stabilizer on a video camera. With this feature, the videographer can be jostled and bumped while filming without creating footage that leaves the viewer feeling queasy. Like a Steadicam, the brain orients towards stability, giving you a sense of calm while glossing over the moment-to-moment changes happening all around you. But when a big change hits, you feel jarred and destabilized. Continue reading

Practice Self-Compassion

Imagine that a dear friend calls you in distress. How would you respond? What would you say? What would your tone of voice sound like? Now, consider how you talk to yourself when you are distraught, or when you’ve made a mistake. Do you treat yourself with the same kindness and warmth you would offer to a friend? Is it easier to be understanding and kind toward someone else than to yourself?

If you tend to approach yourself with criticism and harshness, consider how you can be a better friend to yourself. When you support a friend, you likely see your friend more holistically. You see your friend’s struggles and strengths. You see his/her mistakes in a broader context. You can be merciful toward your friend. How might you bring this Friend Mindset to your own self-observation? Continue reading

Quick Stress Relief Strategies

One of the most useful techniques to quickly calm yourself is to exhale deeply. This simple action can soothe the body’s alarm, the sympathetic nervous system, and activate the all-clear signal, the parasympathetic nervous system. A deep exhalation leaves you calmer and thinking more clearly. Use the muscles around your lungs to push the air all the way out of your lungs. Take a moment and try this now.

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Savor Love

Humans are pack animals. We are biologically designed to connect with each other and generally have longer and healthier lives when we are social. The benefits of relationships are further enhanced when we internalize the love that surrounds us. Keep the kindness you receive alive within you by savoring these experiences.

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Prioritize Sleep

An occasional sleepless night is common, but if you are regularly fatigued, prioritize getting more sleep for the sake of your physical, cognitive and emotional health.

Reports abound about the prevalence and dangers of sleep deprivation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite research showing that inadequate sleep is linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has concluded that one in five serious injuries from a motor vehicle crash is due to exhausted drivers. Fatigue also is detrimental to cognitive functioning and mood.

Sleeping businessman

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Willpower

Will Power Volition Concept
Often we know what needs to be done to improve our lives, but we just aren’t doing it. Whether it is exercising more, drinking less, working less or harder, getting more sleep or healthier eating, we know what would help us to feel better, but we don’t act on it because the habits that must be changed are so ingrained in our minds and our daily routines. In fact, Americans cite lack of willpower as the number one reason why they don’t manage their stress better.

In spite of countless articles all year long about how to keep our resolutions, our understanding of willpower is still limited. We seek the holy grail of willpower that will enable us to do the things we know we should do.

Part of why we fail is that we confuse willpower with desire.

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