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Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Sometimes, we all need a little distraction in our lives – something to take our minds off of our daily stresses. It’s so easy to over-think solutions to our problems and to drive ourselves nuts in the process. We end up with more issues than when we started! When I was submitting my targeted essay for grad school, I ruminated on this one specific sentence over and over again until I got so frustrated, I slammed my laptop cover down and said “Screw it! I’ll get to it later!” I was driving myself nuts trying to edit to perfection. I finally realized that the more I seem to focus on a problem, the more problematic it becomes. When we are stressed out, upset, confused, etc., it’s good to take a break from emotional triggers and to focus our mind elsewhere. We can, eventually, return to the original problem with a clear head and clean perspective.

Yesterday, I was reviewing my “To Do” list (I write one out almost every day) and became instantly overwhelmed at what I needed to accomplish in such a short period of time. I can easily freak out thinking about everything I want to get done, and instead of actually moving forward with daily chores, I sit and wonder if I’ll be able to “do it all.” Then, I don’t get it all done, and the never-ending battle between “thinking” and “doing” plays out again and again.

This time, instead of really stressing myself out, I looked at my list, took a few deep breaths, and pushed the day’s impending busyness out of my head for a solid 15 minutes. I saw an article on Fox News entitled “Mind-Bending Optical Illusions” that grabbed my attention (who doesn’t love a good magic trick or optical illusion once in a while!?). Instead of filling it up with the worries of the world, I cleared my mind and directed all of my focus on these 12 amazing optical illusions. Afterward, I re-focused my attention on my “To Do” list with a new sense of vigor and refreshment. I had given my mind a much-needed break from the stresses that bombard it every day.

If your mind needs a break from your day (and I promise it does) – check out a few or all of these images – or find another good 15 minute distraction that will help to re-focus your brain and to push your worries out for a short time. Get up and stretch, take a 15 minute walk, enjoy some hot tea, meditate, doodle, read a children’s book, etc. You’ll feel instantly refreshed and will probably get more done than if you went a mile-a-minute on each task without taking a second to breathe. “Break” your never-ending cycle of panic by giving yourself a well-deserved “break.” 🙂

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We are constantly moving, looking, planning, doing, wondering; in the midst of one activity, we are thinking about the next one. Our brains and bodies are eternally at work, and it can sometimes seem impossible to try and focus on only one thing at a time. For example, right now, my primary focus is on this blog post, but in the back of my mind, I’m wondering what I should eat for breakfast (okay, maybe that one is in the forefront of my mind…), what time I should go to the gym, and which clothes I need to take to the dry cleaners. I’m also simultaneously on Facebook, Gmail, and WSJ online.

You know, women are excellent multi-taskers – we can talk on the phone, watch T.V., peruse the internet, and flawlessly apply lipstick all at the same time. Just the other day, I had a rag in one hand in an effort to finally win the war against the effervescent dust bunnies occupying my space, my cell phone in the other hand so that I could catch all the gossip about my girlfriend’s blind date, and my eyes were intently focused on the T.V. watching Pauly D and “The Situation” “creep” on some girls Jersey Shore style. These days, multitasking is synonymous with action – if you want to get it all done, you have to do at least three things at once.

Because we have high hopes and expectations for ourselves, we work as hard as we can to basically just “get it all done,” and we drive ourselves crazy doing it. We wear ourselves out trying to be attentive mothers,  star employees, 5 star family cooks, holiday hostesses, selfless volunteers, fun friends, loving sisters, caring daughters, spic-and-span maids, etc. etc. We all need to pause for a moment and remember –  we aren’t machines – sometimes, we just can’t do it all. As my mom says, “we can’t always be everything to everyone,” but we sure do try don’t we?

It really is okay to say no, to put some of our dreams on the back-burner for the time being, and to ask for help when needed; and it’s definitely okay to not be the best at everything you do. Slow your roll and think about what’s really important. I’m sure your child’s bake sale will benefit from brownies in a box just as much as homemade brownies, and I guarantee your boss doesn’t care that much if you used the same word two or three times in a report. We are constantly assuring friends, relatives, and co-workers that “nobody’s perfect.” Well if nobody’s perfect, what makes you think you can be?

This post is inspired by Mika Brzezinski who was courageous enough to share a valuable life lesson she learned about slowing down and re-prioritizing when she caused her 14 week-old baby girl to break her leg. At the time of her daughter’s accident, Brzezinski had been surviving on a two to three hour power nap per day while trying to be a devoted wife, a perfect mother to her toddler and newborn, AND an on-top-of it, vivacious overnight anchor for CBS News. One day, she was hectically running around her house (described by Brzezinski as “zipping around like a wild windup toy”) with her newborn, Carlie, on her hip when she missed the top step and tumbled down the stairs with Carlie pinned under her. Carlie was fortunate enough to only end up with a broken leg, but she remained in a body-cast for eight weeks following the incident. Brzezinski felt so guilty that her mile-a-minute lifestyle caused her daughter’s accident, and she began to realize how her desire to “do it all” was wrecking havoc on all aspects of her life. She soon discovered that she was a human and she had limits. It took her daughter’s near-death experience to realize that in the end, “failure can save your life.”

I strongly suggest reading Brezezinski’s entire article so you can cultivate your own perspective, but the last paragraph really sums up the importance of her story and the reason Brezezinski feels so compared to share. I hope you will glean some wisdom from her inspirational words. And remember, it’s okay to fail. Sometimes unintended failure can result in the most unintended of successes.

“I’ve shared this story with you not because it’s my proudest moment, but because I want to remind women that perfection is a myth. As my girls move toward adulthood, the most important lesson I can pass on is: Pace yourself. It’s what all these years of running and gunning and accomplishing have taught me. It’s not about slowing down but strategizing for the long haul. Pull back when your gut says you should. In retrospect, my biggest failures always seemed to find me when I was trying to do too much too soon. But that’s OK; sometimes the only way to get it right is to get it wrong first.”

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It’s only 2:00 P.M on a Monday, and I’m already slightly frazzled. Work’s been crazy, and I’ve got some unsightly bills to tackle this week. I know that we have all had a “Case of the Mondays” (Thank you lady from Office Space) that cause our stress levels to sky rocket. I learned at a young age that “Stressed” spells “Desserts” backwards, and it can be quite tempting to grab a dessert (or three) during times of stress. A quick sugar fix can be rather tasty and provide us a few minutes of satisfaction, but it doesn’t help reduce our stress levels. A high dose of processed sugar can actually exacerbate stress.

When you are stressed, instead of reaching for a hot fudge sundae or a glazed donut, experts suggest you enjoy the following 9 foods that can actually help reduce your stress:

Oranges

vitamin C in oranges helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well known for boosting your immune system.
vitamin C in oranges helps reduce stress and return blood pressure and cortisol to normal levels after a stressful situation. Vitamin C is also well known for boosting your immune system.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.
Sweet potatoes can be particularly stress-reducing because they can satisfy the urge you get for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under a great deal of stress. They are packed full of beta-carotene and other vitamins, and the fiber helps your body to process the carbohydrates in a slow and steady manner.

Dried Apricots

Apricots are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster and a natural muscle relaxant as well.
Apricots are rich in magnesium, which is a stress-buster and a natural muscle relaxant as well.

Almonds, Pistachios, and Walnuts

Almonds are packed with B and E vitamins, which help boost your immune system, and walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure.
Almonds are packed with B and E vitamins, which help boost your immune system, and walnuts and pistachios help lower blood pressure.

Turkey

Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-tryptophan has a documented calming effect.
Turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan. This amino acid triggers the release of serotonin, which is a feel-good brain chemical. This is the reason why many people who eat turkey feel relaxed, or even tired, after eating it. L-tryptophan has a documented calming effect.

Spinach

A deficiency in magnesium can cause migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium.
A deficiency in magnesium can cause migraine headaches and a feeling of fatigue. One cup of spinach provides 40 percent of your daily needs for magnesium.

Salmon

Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. A study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking.
Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease. A study from Diabetes & Metabolism found that omega-3s keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline from peaking.

Avocados

The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas).
The monounsaturated fats and potassium in avocados help lower blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that one of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to consume enough potassium (avocados have more than bananas).

Green Vegetables

Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress.
Broccoli, kale, and other dark green vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins that help replenish our bodies in times of stress.

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