In my opinion, stress is one of the scariest causes of serious health issues in today’s society.
Why do I say scariest? Because stress is like a “silent killer”.
So many people suffer from hidden side effects of stress and they don’t even know what’s causing their symptoms.
Whether it’s indigestion, back pain, high blood pressure or other symptoms of stress, people often live with it for years not realizing what it is doing to their bodies.
Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines stress as: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.
What are some typical causes of stress?
Pressure at work, college or school, deadlines we think we have to meet, other people’s expectations, peer pressure, unrealistic goals and pressure we put on ourselves, schedules, relationships, caring for a loved one, worrying about children, health concerns and one of the biggest causes of stress… money, bills and financial security!
I am certainly no financial whiz and am not going to try to give you advice on how to manage your money, but seeing as how along with April comes that dreaded Tax time of the year, I thought it might help some of you to learn some techniques to manage stress and lower the chances of it causing more serious health issues.
Preparing and paying taxes causes a high level of stress for many people. Not only are the worried about an unexpected tax bill, but just preparing your income and spending reports for the year can be a stressful process.
One tip I will offer that I learned from my business coach that helps me not get overly stressed this time of year is; not to wait to review your finances once a year. Instead monitor and update your bookkeeping and financial records monthly. It really does help a lot.
Whether your stress is caused by tax time, money worries, children, loved ones or something else, let me share five ways to manage and relieve stress naturally at tax time or any time of year.
1. Try Logical thinking. Remember this question: “Would it help?”
There’s a movie called Bridge of Spies, you may have seen it. There’s one very tense, stressful scene where one of the characters seems too calm for the situation and when asked “Aren’t you worried?” he simply replies; “Would it help?”
That simple line is so powerful. It applies logic to situations that often cause illogical emotional responses.
So the next time you are dealing with something in your life that is causing you to worry, ask yourself; Will worrying or stressing about this help in any way? The answer is of course no. Action will help. Stress will make it worse. Instead of getting paralyzed with worry and allowing yourself to stress … take action, take a step forward, not matter how small and you will feel more accomplished than stressed. Try it!
2. Face Your Fears & Share Your Stuff!
Being a silent killer, stress is diligent at gnawing away at our minds and our bodies when we don’t even know it’s happening. Let’s say you are worried about something at work and you come home to your loved one and they notice you are not yourself and they ask “What’s up?” How do most people respond? “Oh Nothing, I’m fine!”
Why do we do that? Typically because we either don’t want to burden them with it or more often because we don’t want to face it again. It’s a work problem and not something we want to “bring home” so we squish it, right? We push it to the back of our mind … or at least we pretend to. But the reality is it’s nagging away in inside. We feel it in our mind, in our gut, in our back .. wherever you carry stress, you can feel it… gnawing. That gnawing is what causes physical problems, high blood pressure, heart problems, knots in your back or worse.
Have you ever sat with a friend or a loved one and just vented … gushed … complained … or simply shared the things that are causing your frustration, not to get their help, simply to let it all out? It feels great doesn’t it … it’s like therapy just to share it with someone who is there to listen and not judge you, not fix you, not interfere … simply to let you vent and release.
Next time you find yourself holding your worries inside … find a friend, a family member, a partner or even a stranger to talk to. If you don’t have or can’t bring yourself to talk to someone you know, find a therapist who will listen, that’s what they are there for, and vent away to your hearts content! Ahhh feel that release!
3. Real Comfort Food.
We’ve all done it haven’t we? We feel bad, worried, frustrated, angry and/or stressed so we try to make ourselves feel better by eating so called “Comfort Food”! We basically eat junk!
Whether you crave candy, cookies, cake, ice cream or your favorite “death-trap”, ooops, sorry I meant drive-thru! We wolf down, delicious tasting, zero-nutrition calories and it feels great … for about 5 minutes! Right? Then we feel that horrible bloated feeling that comes on, you can feel and almost see your stomach swell and we know in about another 20- 30 minutes you will feel the dreaded food coma set in or the sugar high dissipate.
Without going into all the biological and science of what that so called “comfort food” does to your body and your hormones (I’ve covered that in several other articles) … let me just ask you Does it help? No of course not, it just made you feel good while you were eating it then it added to your stress, you feel guilty for eating it and you typically feel worse!
Instead … the next time you feel like poisoning your body by eating typical comfort food to ease your stress, how about treating your body to some Real Comfort Food? Yes, this one will take a lot of strength the first few times you try it, but I promise you it’s worth it. Treat yourself to some all natural, real food. A delicious and nutritious salad with some fresh salmon or chicken. Or enjoy some of your favorite fruit with a side of plain yogurt … or one of my all-time favorite and satisfying snacks a sliced apple with all natural, organic peanut butter. Obviously pick what works for you and respect any diet restrictions you may have … but treat yourself and your body to some Real Comfort Food.
You will feel great and 100% guilt free – I promise you!
4. Drinking helps! Water … drinking water helps!
If you are in a good mood and life is great and you are out having a fun time, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or a beer or even a cocktail with your friends. It’s enjoyable; it’s fun and provided it’s in moderation, no harm done!
But if you are reaching for the wine bottle or heading to your favorite watering hole every time you feel worried or stressed, you are adding to the problem.
Alcohol is a depressant and while yes it messes with your brain and your body and can help you forget your problems, feel tipsy and have fun in the short term, too much of it or drinking it too often can lead to very serious problems. Not only the social and emotional problems that we hear about, but the physical damage it does to your liver and other organs can sometimes become irreversible.
Next time you feel stressed, or are going through a tough time make it a priority to drink your 6-8 bottles of water a day. It will help rid your body of the toxins that the stress is building up inside you and help balance your hormones naturally.
So yes … drinking helps!
5. Run Away! … Walk it off … Shake it off … Dance it off!
Yes you read that right, I said run away! Not from your problems … from your desk, from your couch, from your phone, from your laptop, from your recliner!
You don’t need me to tell you how important exercise is. With all of today’s modern conveniences we could easily, and many do, live a very sedentary lifestyle. Between Amazon, social media, delivery services, ride share services, virtual reality to name a few, we could easily live in our homes and never have to move from our phones or laptops.
There is nothing healthy about that type of lifestyle and when you add stress to the equation it becomes a ticking time bomb that is literally killing some people.
If you get nothing else from this blog post, please add some type of exercise to your lifestyle. It releases toxins, helps balance hormones, increases energy, is good for your blood pressure, great for your heart, helps with digestion, burns fat, makes you look and feel great … I could go on!
Bottom line, exercise is a great natural stress reliever. If you are not already active, or not active enough, find an exercise that you can commit to at least 30 minute a day. Running, walking, dancing, swimming, hiking, yoga, Jazzercise, Pilates, … it doesn’t matter they type of exercise, give your body the opportunity to sweat out your stress so you can feel great again!
Folks, there’s a ton of scientific proof behind why each of these points work to relieve your stress which I have and will continue to explain in other blog posts, but for today, for this, often stressful, tax season I wanted to remind you and share with you these 5 ways to reduce stress naturally.
We’re always helping coaching our patients on healthy techniques for stress relief that are personalized to them!
I sincerely hope it helps you or someone you care about manage stress better.
Best of health!