Get moving, most especially if you have a job that is basically sedentary. After a day of stagnating circulation and over-amped stress, possibly followed by a commute in traffic with hundreds of other tired and stressed drivers, your body needs to get some oxygen and eliminate the accumulated metabolic waste from a day’s work. Despite the fact that you may be feeling tired after a hard day’s work, in fact this is a very good time to switch gears and get active in ways that reduce stress and fatigue.
Fatigue after long periods of sitting is exacerbated by the lack of simple movement, where body motion helps the kidneys work to eliminate normal body wastes from your system. The kidneys have no muscles of their own, and so need a body in motion to help them move the blood through their unique filtration system. Choose something that is fun and mentally refreshing such as a walk in the park or in nature, perhaps with your dog as an enthusiastic exercise companion. Other options include activities such as dance class, Yoga, Tai Chi, an exercise class or racquetball game.
Play – of any kind – will change your mind and uplift your spirits. Get your family, friends and children, or your canine pal to help out, and enjoy quality time with those you love. Whether it is a structured game, or simple horseplay, you will find that playfulness is a perfect remedy for stress and worry. Oftentimes the magnitude of any trials of the day will magically shrink as soon as we get out of the linear goal-driven mindset.
Meditation – with or without music, meditation is the classic path to balance for body and mind. Overwrought emotions and stressful, negative thoughts are recognized and let go. Deep breathing and mindful meditation reduces tension, lowers blood pressure and slows the heart. After a day where perhaps we have danced to the tune of everything and everybody outside ourselves, our spirit needs to return to the heart’s sanctuary.
Aromatherapy – my favorite is a diffuser with an all-natural essential oil. My favorites include Clary Sage, Lavender, frankincense and sandalwood oils. Always choose high-quality oil; those that have been cut with fillers are not as effective and so are very costly for the low benefit they provide. Synthetic oils are not the same as the natural plant extracted oils, as they are isomers with a different shape molecule which for most essential oils are not recognized by our cells. The oil cannot be extracted chemically or by heat extraction, as that also alters the structure of the molecule such that they have no therapeutic value.
Music – healing music or meditation music will help your brain regain its balance. Music combined with Yoga or Tai Chi is almost guaranteed to bring you back to yourself and restore your body to a healthier state.
Mental Attitude – a well-known tracking and survival instructor has said that the most powerful skill in survival is the mind. It may be said to be true for day-to-day survival in the urban jungle also. Keeping a positive mental attitude does not mean falling prey to the latest new age wishful thinking fad; however it does mean refusing to allow unwanted and useless negative thinking to control our lives and our decisions, regardless of whether it is that of others or our own concoction. The author Peter McWilliams wrote a whole book on the subject, “You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought”. Many others have written and done workshops on this theme; I especially like Dr. Wayne Dyer’s body of work.
Socialize – This works like magic. So often if we are fatigued and stressed, we shrink inward. What works is to reach out. Call a friend or family member & simply talk … doesn’t matter what the subject is. Reminisce over old times, plan for a get together, share inspirations and ideas. Call some friends and go out together to see a movie or listen to music. Invite friends over to share a meal. Don’t let the idea of preparations overwhelm you such that you hesitate to be spontaneous; go pot-luck or order in. Humans have shared mealtimes throughout history; our times may be the first to experiment with isolating us from friends and family, including sharing food together. Be proactive and change what may be a very negative social trend.
Enjoy Good Food – best shared with others of course. What are the best stress-buster foods?
- Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as red and yellow bell peppers, papayas, and carrots, are all rich in foliate, vitamin A and C, all of which help improve our mood, give us more energy and help to repair cell damage caused by stress.
- Basil and arugula are rich in folate and add flavor to healthy dishes
- Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E and folate.
- Asparagus contains two-thirds of your daily requirement for folic acid, a mood-elevating nutrient
- Avocado is rich in B vitamins, and high in potassium and unsaturated fat, which help lower blood pressure
- Blueberries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants that help repair and protect cells. More fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are listed on the WebMD website.
- Nuts such as pecans and almonds are rich in vitamin B2 and E, helping to maintain the immune system. Stress will lower the ability of the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and pathogens. Nuts are rich in antioxidants that are essential for cell repair.
- Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which regulate cortisol and adrenaline levels. Choose sustainably fished wild salmon, not farm-raised. Salmon are carnivores; the farm raised salmon are fed a vegetarian diet which does not allow the production of the essential Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include some humble vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, kale, mint, parsley, spinach and watercress. For a good list of a variety of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids; check out the WebMd website at this page: WebMd .
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens, rich in magnesium and other essential nutrients. Magnesium is very deficient in the modern diet, and is essential for muscles and also regulates cortisol levels. Cortisol and adrenaline are two of the “stress hormones” that remain elevated in chronic stress.
- Turkey is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the release of the calming hormone serotonin.
- Oatmeal is high in protein and also stimulates the release of serotonin. Be sure to use the old-fashioned oats rather than instant; the old fashioned oats have a higher fiber content that allows a “time release” allowing the calming effect to last longer.
These are just a few of my favorite, simple, and easy-to-do stress-busters that have proven their worth over the years. I’m sure that you have good ideas to share that have worked well for you. What are your favorite ways to relax after a stressful day? I’d love to hear what works for you; please do share your favorites in the Comments section below.
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