The Quick Take Away:
- Eat less sugar: sugar is an extraordinary stress-inducing food that undermines our health in countless ways.
- Sleep more: go to bed earlier because you still have to get up at your usual time, so to get more rest – one the most effective stress relief behavior you can engage in, and it’s free and feels great.
- Exercise more: the body’s response to exertion is categorically a must for health in general but a key strategy for melting stress
- Say no … more often: reduce the demands on your schedule by simply not committing to so many … things (for you, for your kids, at work).
We all do what we need to do to survive, “get by,” and in hopefully most cases, succeed. In all of these, good, bad, or ugly, stress accumulates and adds to the load we’re already carrying through life. Thankfully, we are surrounded with abundant information on how to productively quarantine, reduce, or ideally, dissipate the stress – the question is, have we looked into it yet?
There are none more powerful in managing stress levels than ourselves, and so we are charged with the responsibility of keeping tabs on how we are allowing stressors to affect us psychologically and ultimately, physically. After reading Week 1’s SPARK Insight, we understand a few of the physiological effects of chronic stress, and are tasked with finding practical methods to incorporate daily to prevent stress-induced deficiency.
Here are some great “weapons” in our arsenal that everyone can use to combat chronic stress:
- Bonfire’s FUEL section provides a wonderful way to eliminate some of the stress of having to “cook up” healthy meals to fuel a hungry household, and provides grocery shopping lists and recipes with instructions each week. Not only does this help with the planning and shopping aspects, but the real, live, and whole ingredients in the meal plan help our bodies be properly set up to physically deal with our daily stresses.
- Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, lists five quick tactics to reduce stress in various life areas.
- In line with this week’s Insights example of establishing a Peace of Mind Account (PMA) to cope with stress, this 2008 archive from the Chicago Tribune offers a couple more basic tactics to eliminating finance-induced anxiety.
We need to practice removing ourselves from our everyday stressors, even if for a few seconds at a time while right in the middle of them, and we need to be on-purpose about it.
One particularly inconspicuous strategy that is fun and costs nothing is a “three second vacation.” For three seconds, close your eyes and let your mind transport you to the most relaxing place on earth – sights, sounds, scents, everything. Breathe it all in deeply for three seconds, and then resume your activity (extend duration and/or repeat as many times throughout the day as necessary).
Also, to the extent that schedule and location make it practical, giving your body a chance to “reboot” comes highly recommended.
On a larger scale, we challenge you to use some of the most gratifying activities you’ve come to enjoy to assist in the battle against stress. They don’t necessarily need to cost anything (it doesn’t cost much to take a sketch pad out to draw a landscape or to get out and climb a tree…preferably your own tree), but a reasonable expense is also acceptable (a ride along the coast on a sunny day, top-down in a rented convertible, a round of golf, or a session out on the community airfield with a radio controlled airplane…however, if the expense or challenge of the mechanism adds stress, please find another coping mechanism to use). If we ask our Bonfire experts, we’re sure to find intense exercise and surfing among their top choices for coping mechanisms – not specifically for the coping aspect, but because they’re a main course of fun with a generous helping of stress-relief on the side.
We’re all different and there’s no sense in stressing about choosing coping mechanisms, so find your fun and you’ll discover a mechanism that works for you!