Tag Archives: stress

Are Your Kids Stressed Out?

KidsHaveStressTooPicIf you’re like most parents, your list of errands and things to do never ends. You run from one activity or event to the next. You’re probably stressed out at times.

Guess what? Your kids may be stressed out, too. The start of school – after a summer of being on vacation – can be a particularly stressful time.

How do you know if your kids are stressed?
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that 20% of children have ongoing stress.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to determine if your child is stressed:

  1. Does your child have more meltdowns than usual?
  2. Do you notice more fatigue, irritability, headaches or stomachaches?
  3. Is your child sleeping poorly or having more nightmares?
  4. Does your child seem angry?

What can you do to help your child cope with stress? Here are 8 stress relievers you can teach your kids:

Think positive
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking. You may also be teaching your kids to think in the negative instead of the positive. Rather than saying, “I hope I don’t fail the test,” put a positive spin on it and say, “I have studied, and I will pass the test.”

Show by example
Kids are perceptive. They watch you and pay attention to what you’re doing. If you show them that you can manage stress in productive way, they will learn that stress is something they can deal with. Make sure they see you finding effective methods of handling stress in your life.

De-stress early
Most people wait until they’re stressed out to use stress-busting techniques. You can teach your kids to know the signs early or take a preventative approach to dealing with stress. For instance, you can use healthy eating, exercising, meditating or other techniques to help  cope with stress.

Unplug
While we rely on technology in many aspects of our lives, it can also add to our stress levels. Try a self-imposed technology cut-off time. Limit screen time for kids, including TV, movies, mobile phones, tablets and social media. You and your kids may be surprised by the things you can find to do when you’re unplugged.

Eat together
At least once a day, make it a point to eat a meat together. It can be breakfast if everyone is up and about at the same time. Or plan on sitting down to eat dinner in the evening as a family. You can learn quite a bit about what’s going on in your kids’ lives if you sit down regularly for a meal and conversation.

Spend time with friends
As adults we spend time with our friends to unwind, complain about our boss or just goof off. Your kids should also build healthy friendships that allow them to be themselves and blow off steam. They can hang out at the park, have sleep overs or just play in the yard.

Take up a sport
Sports are a great way to relieve stress. Playing a team sport can also help your kids build relationships, exercise and have fun.

Enjoy creative activities
Art, music or other creative tasks can help alleviate stress. Even reading a book can be a stress buster.

Relationships can help kids build resilience. Spending time with parents or grandparents playing board games, cooking or tossing a frisbee can help kids handle stress. And it creates happy memories for everyone!

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9 Simple Ways to Handle Stress

relaxOur lives are filled with stress. It’s impossible to avoid. You’re already late for an appointment and get slowed down by road construction. Your boss dumped a proposal on you that’s due tomorrow. Your schedule is hectic, and you need to be in two places at once.

Research shows that some stress can be good for you. However, if you’re dealing with persistent – long-term stress, such as a sick parent or a demanding boss, it can actually lead to a variety of health issues.

Here are 9 simple and practical ways to copy with stress in your daily life:

Enjoy some fresh air
Make it a point to get outside every day. Research shows that vitamin D from sunlight can elevate your mood by releasing feel-good serotonin. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells around you will take your mind off your worries or frustrations. Even feeling the wind on your face can lift your spirits.

Take a walk
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to turn to bad habits to make you feel better, such as a candy, cigarettes or caffeine. Next time you’re feeling anxious, go for a quick stroll. Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise can provide a mental boost. Better yet, climb a few flights of stairs. Climbing stairs requires you to pay more attention to what you’re doing and helps vent frustrations.

Rely on rituals
You probably already have rituals that help you relax, and you may not even realize it. For example, you may read the newspaper as you eat breakfast, listen to music while you clean or take a bath before going to bed. Our bodies naturally crave routines, so focusing on regular rituals can help you relax physically and mentally. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you stick to your regular routines.

Put down the junk food
Do you handle stress by eating? In hectic times, you may choose comfort foods, such as refined carbs or sugary snacks. You will most likely experience a sugar crash, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. Extra calories can also quickly add up to extra pounds. The next time you’re feeling anxious, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh fruits, vegetables or a handful of nuts.

Get out of your head
Stress likes to mess with your mind. Do you ever get stuck in an ongoing loop of negative thoughts or playing back conversations in your head? A great way to get out of your own head is to engage in fun activities that put your focus on your hands or body. For instance, you can cook, knit or crochet, climb a rock wall or play a sport. When you do something creative or an engaging activity, you fall into a rhythmic pattern and your brain helps you relax and feel more grounded.

Visualize calm
Find a quiet area and create a happy place for a few minutes each day. Just sit still, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Clear you mind and concentrate on thinking about nothing stressful. It’s harder than you think! Find a comforting and calming image that works for you and helps you relax. Read more about relaxation techniques.

Focus on the present
It’s easy to get sucked into worrying over things that have already happened or imagining what could happen in the future. Let go of thoughts about the past and future, and focus on the present moment. Be aware of where you are and what’s happening right now. Think about how the air feels on your skin, the sound of your kids laughing or a friend telling you about their day. Being mindful of the present can help you let go of stressing about the past and future.

Express your gratitude
Take a few moments each day to express gratitude. It can be as simple as going over the good things that happened that day before you go to sleep. You can write your feelings in a journal. Or, you can let friends and family know you are grateful for them. Research has shown that showing more gratitude releases hormones that make you feel good and lowers stress levels.

Connect with your spiritual side
Spirituality can boost happiness in times of stress. Many religious groups and native tribes use prayer beads to guide their spiritual practice. Having something to hold while communicating with a higher spirit can provide comfort and routine. Prayer can also help you pass your worries over to God and give you peace.

Learning how to cope with stress on a daily basis can help you improve your overall health and well-being. Take the time each day to acknowledge stress and find ways – like the tips above – to help you let it go and live a more balanced life.

10 Ways Stress Affects Your Health

Stress pinned on noticeboardStress is a personal thing. What might stress me out may not bother you, and vice versa. A little bit of stress is good for motivation and may help your memory. However, ongoing stress can impact your health in negative ways. Increased doctors visits and serious illnesses may be linked to stress.

Stress can come from a short-term frustration, such as a traffic jam or waiting in line, or a major life event like losing a job or divorce. Either way, it can affect our bodies and our overall health.

Here are 10 ways that stress may be impacting your health, and you don’t even realize it:

Triggers cravings
Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, may trigger cravings for sugar and fat. If you already have a higher body mass index, you may be even more susceptible to cravings. The key is to know your stress triggers and stock up on healthy snacks. Or, make sure you don’t have unhealthy treats on hand when you know you may be guilty of emotional eating.

Causes weight gain
Stress can also be correlated with weight gain. In addition to the cravings caused by the stress hormone cortisol, higher levels of cortisol may also be linked to more belly fat. You may also have poor eating habits when you’re more stressed.

Messes up your memory
When you’re stressed about getting to an important appointment on time, it can be harder to remember where you put the car keys or when you last filled up the gas tank. Stress seems to fog up your memory and make it harder to remember simple things.

Raises blood sugar
Stress is known to raise blood sugar levels. If you’re at risk for Type 2 diabetes, stress can substantially increase your risk of developing the disease. For those who already have Type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher when under stress.

Impacts your vision
Stress can cause a range of eye symptoms – from eye twitches to hysterical blindness. In both cases, it’s important to find the underlying causes of the emotional stress and then try to eliminate the causes of the stress.

Gives you headaches
The “fight or flight” chemicals that are released during a stressful event can cause vascular changes that give you a headache or migraine. It can happen while you’re stressed or during the “let-down” period afterwards. Stress can also make you tense your jaw muscles or clench your teeth, both of which can create a tension headache.

Keeps you up at night
Work issues or life events can keep you tossing and turning at night. Loss of sleep is linked to a number of health conditions and creates a vicious cycle. Insomnia increases your stress and keeps you up even more at night. Getting a better night’s sleep can help you cut down stress before it starts.

Creates digestion problems
Heartburn, stomach cramps and diarrhea can be caused by stress, or can be worsened by stress. Bouts of constipation and diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome, are also thought to be partially fueled by stress.

Weakens your immune system
Chronic stress can make it harder for you to fight off viruses and bugs. It lowers your immune system by creating hormonal changes in your body.

Makes you age prematurely
I want to live as long as possible. Traumatic events and chronic stress are both thought to shorten the telomeres in your chromosomes. This change causes your cells to age faster. It seems that exercising vigorously three times a week may be enough to counteract the effects.

We all know that chronic stress is bad for us. Our modern society creates a long-term state of stress, and it’s hard on our minds and bodies. If you’re feeling stressed, find ways to relax and learn to let go of stress!

10 Habits That Are Zapping Your Energy

too-tired-1752-mAre you tired of being tired all the time? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks. I feel like I’m slogging through the days and fighting to stay awake.

It comes as no surprise to me that many of our habits that can drain our energy are also the same habits that cause us to feel like our lives are out of balance. We need to get back to the basic foundation blocks of living a balanced life.

Feeling tired not only robs you of your productivity and pleasure, it can also make you no fun to be around. The good news is that fixing your fatigue and lack of ambition may be as easy as making a few, simple lifestyle changes.

Here are 10 ways you can change your habits and put more pep in your step and energy back in your day:

Drink more water
We all know we need to drink more water, but how much to drink is more difficult to determine. Even if you’re not dehydrated, you can still experience the negative effects of not drinking enough water. Being tired and cranky can be a sign that you need to drink more. Water flushes out toxins, keeps tissues hydrated and increases your energy level. If it’s difficult for you to drink water all day, mix it up with 100% fruit juices, nonfat milk or unsweetened tea (preferably herbal or decaffeinated).

Eat smart
If you feel that your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day, it may make sense for you to eat five or six small meals a day. This strategy can help your blood-sugar level remain constant and give you a steady amount of fuel all day. Just remember that you still need to maintain the same calorie intake for the day, simply spread it out over smaller meals. You will find that your energy level stays more balanced.

Cut the sugar
While sugar gives you a quick energy boost, it also drops you back down hard when it runs out. Then, you start craving that energy high again. Along with eating small meals a day, try to avoid the sugar rush and keep healthy snacks on hand. By combining a few ounces of protein with complex carbohydrates, you can keep your blood sugar more stable and boost your energy levels. For instance, snack on whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese, fresh fruit, lean turkey or chicken, or nonfat yogurt.

Watch the caffeine
Caffeine increases your energy levels, but it also takes away more energy than it’s giving. Like eating sugar or big meals, caffeine will boost your energy, but too much can cause a rebound effect and lead to fatigue. The best option is to quit caffeine by gradually reducing your intake However, if you can’t cut out caffeine completely, at least stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.

Get more sleep
The need to drink caffeine during the day can also be the result of not getting enough sleep at night. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every night will put you on track for being rested and alert. Make it a habit to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. You can strengthen your sleep patterns and get a better night’s sleep.

Lose the clutter
Being disorganized or having clutter in your home or workplace can make you feel lethargic, as well as lacking in enthusiasm and optimism. Trying to remember where things are and searching for lost or misplaced things can be a huge drain both emotionally and physically. It’s important to cope with clutter so you can be more productive and quickly move on to doing more fun things.

Stop stressing
Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done. Conflict and stress can quickly deplete your energy and rob you of your ambition. Managing your stress levels is the best option. When you make time to take care of your inner self, you will find that you are able recharge and boost your energy. Relaxation takes different forms for different people. For you, it may mean sitting in silence, taking a walk and appreciating nature, working out or taking a bubble bath.

Move your body
With fitness, there are actually two ways to zap your energy. First, you can simply not exercise. Physical activity can energize us physically, emotionally and mentally. Without it, we are naturally more sluggish. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you feel good and enhance your mood. On the other hand, too much exercise can also cause problems. Over-training depletes your energy reserves, breaks down muscle, and makes you weaker not stronger. Find a balance by creating a healthy, fitness routine.

Say no
Do you say yes to everything? Spending time doing things you don’t really want to do can be another energy drainer. Think about how you spend your time each day. Do you do things that fuel you? Or do you spend your time on activities that deplete you? If you raise your awareness of where your energy is going, you can learn to say no to the things that deplete your energy. Then, energy can flow back into your life.

Make time for yourself
One of the ways to bring energy back in your life is to make time for yourself. Do things that make you happy and energize you. For instance, read a good book, go on a date night with your spouse, spend time with your kids, hang out with friends, focus on the good things, meditate or get a massage.

You can keep your energy levels in balance by creating more healthy habits that also will bring your life as a whole into balance. You can regain and maintain your missing energy!

10 Ways to Improve Your Memory

notepad-1066735-mDo you lose track of your car keys? Walk into a room and have no idea why you’re there? Can’t remember the name of your child’s teacher?

I recently read that our modern lifestyle plays a significant role in contributing to our memory and brain function. Our exposure to toxins, chemicals, an unhealthy diet, poor sleep habits and stress can actually hinder our ability to remember.

A healthy lifestyle can support your brain health and even help your brain grow new neurons. This process is called neurogenesis.

By simply making healthier choices, here are 10 ways you can improve your memory:

Stay hydrated
Your brain is 75% water so even mild dehydration means that your brain tissues are shrinking, and you may experience mild loss of cognitive function. You may have heard, “Drink when you’re thirsty.” However, when you feel thirsty, you’re already becoming dehydrated. You should shoot for 8 glasses of water a day. Of course, if you exercise or work outside in hot weather, you should drink even more. Learn more about the benefits of drinking water.

Eat real food
I often cook from a box, package or can. Prepackaged foods almost always contain unhealthy ingredients that aren’t good for your brain. The best diet consists of real food. Unprocessed food helps you avoid those chemicals and toxins that can hinder your memory function. Artificial sweeteners and MSG are both known to adversely affect your brain health. Here are some tips for swapping junk food for healthy food.

Cut back on sugar
Brain cells use twice as much energy as other cells, and they get most of this energy from glucose. Your brain cells can’t store energy, so they need a steady supply of glucose. That means you should eat more sugar, right? No, the key part of the equation is a steady supply. Real sugar, including high fructose corn syrup and maple syrup, is hard on your brain and memory. They send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride of spikes and dips. Too much refined sugar leads to poor memory formation, learning disorders and depression. It also impacts your attention span and mood. Here are more reasons to limit sugar.

Keep the fat
Many diets want you to cut out the fat. However, some fats are good for you. Not to mention, your brain is made mostly of fat. It needs healthy fats, such as the type you get from nuts, avocados, oily fish and olive oil. About 25% of your body’s cholesterol is found in the brain. Low fat diets have had a disastrous affect on our brains. We need good fats for overall health, as well as memory function.

Get more sleep
Sleep has so many health benefits. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep shouldn’t be considered sleeping in. You should strive to sleep 8 hours every night for your overall health and mental well-being. During sleep, your brain repairs itself, gets rid of toxins and consolidates memories. Lack of good sleep will impair your memory, creativity, judgment and attention span. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep.

Stop multitasking
We’ve written before that there is no such thing as multitasking. You are simply switching from one task to another. Trying to multitask may actually slow you down, make you more prone to errors and make you more forgetful. You need about 8 seconds to actually commit a piece of information to memory. So, if you’re talking on the phone while bringing in the groceries, you are more likely to forget where you laid down your car keys.

Stay active
Our bodies are meant to move, yet you may spend 10-12 hours a day sitting. All this sitting can lead to memory lapses, brain shrinkage and cognitive decline. Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. Exercise also moves more oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Getting more physical activity can help keep your memory sharp. Here are more benefits of regular exercise.

Reduce stress
Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decisions, insomnia and memory loss. Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to a surplus of free radicals. These free radicals can cause your brain to shrink by punching holes in the brain cell walls and causing them to rupture and die. The next time you’re getting stressed out, take a deep breath and remember that you’re killing brain cells. Here are some more ways to reduce stress.

Check your medicine cabinet
A number of medications can affect memory, including antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicines without talking to your doctor, but if you’re concerned about your memory function it may be something to bring up at your next visit.

Keep learning
People who are cognitively active will have better memory as they age. How do you keep your brain going strong? Stay engaged in the world. Play games that make you think. Do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Find ways to challenge your memory. For instance, if you meet someone new, make up a way to remember his or her name. Here are 16 Ways to Exercise Your Brain.

Your lifestyle and habits impact every part of your life, including your memory and brain function. A healthy, balanced lifestyle can improve your memory, mood and well-being. It’s just another reason to live a balanced life!

12 Ways to Stop Stressing Right Now

I was riding in the car with my son, and the country song “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama came on the radio. He said, “Mom, that sounds like you.” The opening lyrics are:

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Do you feel like you’re in a constant state of stress? Rushing here and there trying to accomplish everything, until you realize you aren’t having any fun? I definitely have days like that.

If you’re stressed out and feeling like your life is out of balance, here are 12 ways to stop stress in its tracks:

Admit you’re stressed
When my son said that song sounded like me, I looked at my knuckles clenched on the steering wheel, hunched back and overall impatience. I realized I was stressed about fitting in everything I needed to do that day. Was it that important? Did I need rush until I was stressed out? Recognizing that you’re anxious, grumpy and just plain tired, you can make a determined effort to do something about it.

Take a deep breath
While you may not have time to take a yoga class or find a quiet place to practice relaxation techniques, you can take a few moments to just breathe. Breathe in deeply through your nose and then slowly let it out. Repeat a few times and think about letting the stress of the moment go. You will feel better!

Go outside
Taking in nature can reduce stress and improve your health. Go outside and take a walk or even sit in a peaceful place and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature. Spending time outdoors can put things in perspective and inspire a more positive outlook.

Laugh or smile like you mean it
A genuine smile can reduce your body’s stress responses, even if you’re not necessarily feeling it on the inside. Smiling can also lower your heart rate. Humor can help you relax. Read the comics in the newspaper, watch a comedy show or hang out with funny friends. Find a reason to have a little fun each day.

Do something for you
I spend all my time worrying about my kids, husband, work and all the things that need to be done to keep everything running smoothly. Take a few minutes to do something you enjoy – and that’s just for you.

Chew bubble gum
Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. It may be that the rhythmic act of chewing improves blood to your brain. Or, it may just be that the smell or taste help relax you.

Try aromatherapy
Certain scents can sooth. Lavender is a common scent thought to help ease stress. I personally like the smell of honeysuckle. It takes me back to summer nights when I was young, sleeping with the windows open and smelling honeysuckle. Other scents may trigger positive or special memories for you.

Get moving
Exercise improves mood, releases stress and can make you feel better about yourself. Just 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week can positively impact your mood and your health. Exercise can also be meditative, allowing you to clear your mind and let go of whatever is stressing you out.

Make time for friends and family
Talking to close friends and family members can help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Telling someone your troubles and getting their input can put things into perspective. It helps to share your thoughts and be supported and heard.

Hug a pet
Spending time with animals can also alleviate stress. You can tell them your troubles, worries and fears, and they won’t judge you or give you unwanted advice. Animals can help your brain produce less of the stress hormone cortisol and more serotonin, which helps you feel more relaxed.

Rock it out
Music can help you let go of stress or put your worries aside for a while. The type of music is up to you. Some people enjoy classical music while others want to jam out to some old time rock and roll. It’s about being in the moment and letting yourself get into the music.

Read a book
I love to get lost in a great novel. I can shut down my brain and let go of distractions. I enjoy becoming caught up in the story. It’s a great way to relax, especially right before you go to bed.

Once you learn to recognize that you’re stressed out, you have the power to let the worry and anxiety go and find a more balanced, low-stress life.

Is Your Life in Balance?

zen-still-life-605551-mI have been feeling really pressed for time this summer. I am working full-time and chauffeuring three kids to multiple sports activities and events. There just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to do.

I went on vacation a few weeks ago and worked a few hours every day that I was gone. I feel like I neglect my kids and husband some days, and I haven’t spent time with friends in months.

When your life gets out of balance, you may feel burnt out, unsatisfied, angry, depressed or stressed.

On the other hand, when your life is in balance you have better over health, you’re more fit, you have a positive outlook, and your relationships are strengthened. You will have greater peace of mind, feel in harmony and be excited to embrace each day.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if your life is out of balance – and what you can do to bring it back into balance:

Do you feel overwhelmed?
If you feel like pulling the covers up over your head in the morning and hiding from the world, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. Stress and anxiety can keep you from feeling balanced. It might be a good idea to take a break, step back and give yourself some down time.

Here are 9 Intriguing Things to Know About Stress

Do you have a social network?
And by social network, we don’t mean Facebook or Twitter. When is the last time you spent time with friends and just relaxed? Do you spend quality time with your family? Our relationships are important to our sense of well-being. Neglecting friends and family, or having conflict within your relationships, will make it difficult to find life balance. Make sure you take the time to nurture the relationships that matter to you.

Your friendships matter. Here are 7 Reasons Why We Need Friends

Are you out of shape?
Lack of exercise and poor eating habits will take their toll on your mind and body. Letting yourself get out of shape can impact your quality of life and lead to negative feelings that impact your mood and attitude. Eating right and exercising are good for the body and soul.

Get some workout tips at 15 Exercise and Fitness Do’s and Don’ts
Want some healthy eating tips? 10 Healthy Eating Myths and Facts

How is your energy level?
Do you find yourself yawning and wishing for a nap about halfway through the day? Do you wake up groggy in the morning or toss and turn at night? Your sleep habits can impact your life balance. It’s important to establish good sleep habits and make sure you are getting plenty of rest.

Need more reasons to get a good night’s sleep? Here are 8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

Are your finances a mess?
Are you living beyond your means and feeling the pressure of debt? Your financial situation can cause stress, as well as put added strain on your relationship with your spouse. You can get control of your finances by taking a look at your spending habits and creating a budget to help you get back on track.

Want help creating a budget? Read more: Tips to Achieving a Balanced Budget

Do you have bad habits?
Are you controlling or overbearing to your friends and family? Maybe you’re a perfectionist and expect everyone else to be that way, too. Do you smoke, chew your fingernails or overeat? If there are things about yourself you would like to change, then do it! With time and some patience,  you can change those bad habits and replace them with good habits.

Need to overcome bad habits? Learn how: 7 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

What do you want to accomplish?
What are your goals in life? We all need dreams and plans to keep us excited and motivated. Set goals for yourself and accomplish them. Then, set new goals and challenge yourself to continue to grow and expand your horizons.

Read our blog: 9 Tips to Set and Achieve Life Goals

Finding and maintaining balance in your life is a journey. It’s something you must work at every day. You will have bad days and obstacles will crop up in your path. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish your goals and appreciate the good moments in your life. Continue to seek and strive for balance in your life. You will find that you are happier, healthier and more at peace.