Every now and then we need to decompress. By definition, to decompress is to return to a condition of normal atmospheric pressure gradually from a condition of increased pressure. For divers this is equalizing on the ascent towards the water’s surface and the time spent between dives. For everyone else, decompression could be thought of as relaxing and re-centering.
These last few days I spent decompressing from two stressful weeks of summer class finals, fundraising and training for my next marathon. I created this atmosphere of increased pressure by failing to manage my time appropriately and for taking on too much.
Sound familiar? I think we all know that stress, especially constant stress, is bad for your health. Constant stress creates sleeping, stomach and memory disturbances. The last few weeks, I had trouble sleeping and would awaken tired. My stomach felt constantly disturbed and I didn’t really want to eat. Plus I felt on edge and would easily forget what I needed to do!
Tip 1: Outside In
Running or any form of exercise makes me feel better. There are times I completely zone out on a run and before I know it the run is over. My mind feels like it has been cleared of the clutter and I feel good for using pent up energy. Did you know that stress hormones breakdown our energy stores for use? This extra fuel is intended to be used for fight or flight situations; so guess what happens when it isn’t used? This extra fuel is converted into fat! Regular exercise helps fight stress related weight gain and improves your mood.
Tip 2: Inside Out
Do you eat more under stress? Our stress hormones also signal hunger. According Personal Nutrition (Boyle and Long, p. 303) each time we take glucose “..out of storage in response to stress and then transformed into fat, the lowered glucose level or exhausted glycogen will signal hunger, and the person will eat again soon after.”
If stress makes us eat more, then let’s choose foods that are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C may help control stress hormone levels and bolsters our immune system.
Tip 3: Schedule It
How are your time management skills? Mine are okay according to an online quiz. However, I do need to focus on minimizing distractions, prioritizing and scheduling. We recently purchased a white board and write down weekly priorities. This simple act of writing them down in a visible place helps keep me focused. Also, I’ve started making calendar appointments to work on things tasks related to my wedding, school, and WellJourn.
Tip 4: Stay Positive!
You’re kidding right? No, for some staying positive may seem like something that only positive people say. I know it isn’t easy for everyone because, quite simply, it isn’t always easy for me. However, I remember hearing or reading somewhere that if we just meditate 30 minutes a day on positive, happy thoughts we can influence our outlook and attitude! If you cannot find 30 minutes in your day, try taking baby steps and start with just 10 minutes.
Positively for your health
According to the article Mental Health Promotion in Public Health: Perspectives and Strategies From Positive Psychology in the American Journal of Public Health (August 2011) “…positive emotions can more quickly quell or undo the adverse effects of negative experiences by reducing stressful reactions (e.g., increased blood pressure) and returning the body to a balanced state.”
Try meditating on positive thoughts while you are taking your morning or afternoon break. Also, consider putting together an email list of co-workers and send them a nice thought or quote during the day! The very act of putting a smile on someone’s face will put a smile on your face and give you your…
How do you decompress?
Resources you can use:
WebMd’s Stress Busting Foods
Assess your time management skills
Patty H says
AMEN SISTER! I think another thing that would be beneficial in the ‘Schedule It’ section is remembering to schedule events that we really enjoy. Our culture is so focused on keeping busy all of the time that we sometimes forget to include an activity that we enjoy and let’s us relax from the stresses of the week.
Thanks for the great posts, Tabitha!
Jeremy M says
Decompression is VITAL!
Exercise typically gets me back on track but sleep seals the deal. If I haven’t gotten suffient REMs I’m not only still stressed but also a little more problematic to be around. So I find the combination of the two to be key. Keeping the chemical stimulants and depressants (eg. coffee and alcohol) minimal really helps too. The more we rely on substances (refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol) to moderate or energy levels for us, the more dependant we become and the less able to handle situations on our own account.
Great topic and suggestions. Keep it up.
Thank you Jeremy :). It is amazing what getting a good night’s sleep and dreaming can do for the mind and body.
Good point! We get so caught up scheduling the “to do’s” that we forget to do something for ourselves!
I like to play around with new recipes and then consume them. 🙂 Another thing that really helps me is crocheting while listening to my favorite music.
Thank you! Sometimes, I’ll break out the sewing machine and make a few doll clothes or actually try to make something for myself (I have yet to be successful in this part, though :)).
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