Wellness Matters: Three ways to relieve stress today

By Sammie Stephens May 17, 2016

Stress is your body’s response to any physical or mental demand. People can experience stress as a result of both positive and negative events. 

One of the ways we experience negative stress is from having an excessively busy schedule. Unrelieved stress has become such a common part of American life that we do not always recognize the symptoms. People say, “I’m busy," “I have a lot of to do," or “I’m exhausted.” They don’t recognize they are experiencing excessive stress. The fight or flight response is always on for many people. As a result, they are not able to relax and rejuvenate. Our bodies were not meant to operate this way. Unrelieved stress can be harmful to your health.  

So, what can you do about stress today? 

1. Recognize if you are experiencing too much stress. 

When was the last time you slept eight hours? How much caffeine do you need to get through the day? Do you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or unable to focus?

Answering these questions can give you some insight as to how your body is dealing with stress.

2. Stop and Breathe. 

When we are stressed, we tend to take shallow breaths. Shallow breathing causes less oxygen to be delivered to the brain. When the brain has a decreased oxygen level, we are not able to think clearly. When we cannot think clearly, it takes longer to do the tasks we need to do.

So, stop and breathe. Stop everything you are doing and take ten slow deep breaths. Make sure your belly expands and contracts with each inhalation and exhalation. Try to do this deep breathing exercise at least three times a day.

3. Skip the fast food.

Americans are addicted to fast food, and it is affecting our health. Fast food is cheap and convenient. However, it is also void of most nutrients our bodies need, especially if we are stressed. Instead, choose fresh whole food such as fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Skip the soda and opt for water or herbal tea.

Sammie Stephens, R.N.

Wellness Matters columns are submitted by the Employee Health and Wellness Department, focused on improving the health and wellness of WMC employees and their families. Sammie Stephens is a certified health and wellness coach and coach trainer. She is currently working on a master's of nursing degree to become a nurse practitioner. Her primary interests are in health promotion and illness prevention using a holistic approach. For more information, contact the Health and Wellness Department at 577-2669.

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