Obesity rates have increased for all population groups in the United States over the last several decades. Between 1986 and 2000, the prevalence of severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) quadrupled from one in two hundred Americans to one in fifty. Extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 50 kg/m2) in adults increased by a factor of five, from one in two thousand to one in four hundred.
The Cause: Stress.
Okay not only stress there’s also laziness, over indulging ourselves (which could be caused by stress) in food, and of course lack of exercise.
So I’ve compiled a list of different ‘practices’ you can take into consideration (and I am recently trying to do as well) when your feeling overwhelmed and a little overly stressed. .
- World-class travelers offer great advice: Once you’ve finished packing, remove three things. You likely won’t miss them, your remaining clothes will be less wrinkled, and you’ll have room for souvenirs. When you’re stressed, look at your to-do list and cross three things off. Whether you move them to next week or decide they’re not necessary, this exercise helps you keep enough time to accommodate the unexpected or spend an afternoon doing whatever you darn well please.
- Take a moment to appreciate the many things you have to be grateful for. Make it real by writing down your list — the hot coffee you had with breakfast, the way your significant other makes you laugh, the blue sky, or even cool clouds if you live in an area that doesn’t get the ‘blues’ often — nothing is too small or too big. Whatever we focus on magnifies; but by choosing to highlight the positive you’ll only invite more of it to grow.
- Breathe more mindfully. Try taking a full breath now — inhale deeply into your belly, then allow every last drop of air to release on the exhale. This simple action blocks the stress response and cues your body to relax, making you less likely to get riled and more able to think clearly. Breathe deeply before you respond to anything life throws your way, and notice how it changes your reactions.
- Know how a cranky child magically transforms into a little angel after a nap? Treat yourself to a moment of rest. Make yourself all comfy cozy even if it wont be for more than 10 minutes. It’s called a revamp (at least in my mind).
- Everyone has a gut instinct, but when our lives are fully scheduled, it doesn’t get the space it needs to rise to the top. Taking a walk with no particular destination in mind can help you get in touch with this inner wisdom. At every corner, ask yourself which way you should go, and follow whatever hunch you get. You might just be delighted with where you end up and what you experience along the way.
- Declare your independence from hiding your true feelings by choosing one day to pretend that you’ve swallowed truth serum. The goal isn’t to drop bombshells (“I’ve always hated you in black”), but to be honest in loving way. For example, “I’d love to meet for dinner this weekend, but I am tired and need to rest. Let’s pick another time.” It’s incredibly liberating and is a quick way to reduce your stress levels.
- Notice your temper flaring? Next time an aggressive driver cuts you off, or a co-worker sends a snippy e-mail, or you trip over your teenager’s skateboard, try saying this small phrase: Bless their heart. It’s a short and simple reminder that the person you’re angry with is human and could probably stand a little forgiveness. It also benefits you by deflating your anger and boosting your compassion. Not bad for three little words, huh? In the South we also had a hidden meaning for it which I also personally love. ‘Bless your heart’ interprets to ‘Your an idiot’. But not creating more drama for yourself…
- Of all the things you do in a day, how many of them do you actually enjoy? Treat yourself to some time with someone you admire whose company makes you feel great. We all need real-life role models; spending time with yours can help you remember what’s most important to you. If you can’t see each other face to face, talk on the phone or write an old-fashioned letter.
- Spend some time with your journal. Sometimes, it’s tough to talk to someone about your worries, so if you can’t talk it out, then write it down! Not only will you be able to understand your feelings better, but writing will also clear your thoughts and help you do some self-reflective thinking.
- When you’re feeling like giving up and throwing in the towel, remind yourself of the things that you have. Remember your great friends, even family that is there for you. Make a list of the things you are thankful for in your life, and you will see that your problems are tiny in comparison to the positive aspects.
- Meditation can be a great way to relax, especially if you are under a lot of stress. Research has shown that meditation can be helpful in lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and even improving cognitive performance.
And meditation is pretty simple to do: just find a comfortable place, close your eyes, relax your muscles, and focus on one thing, whether it’s your breathing, an object, or even a picture in your mind. You can do this for as little as 10 minutes to experience benefits. The key is staying focused and not letting any distractions or thoughts enter your mind–being mindful is key.
- Green tea is very soothing it contains theanine, an amino acid that gives flavor to green tea and promotes relaxation. It is also thought that theanine is a caffeine antagonist, meaning it counters the stimulating effects of caffeine. So, drink green tea, and avoid caffeinated beverages, since caffeine can worsen the stress response. (I will also opt out for just a plain old hot cup of black tea, at some points of my stress level a hot cup of tea is the most relaxing thing I can do for myself to just unwind, I specifically love inhaling the warm steam. No I don’t understand the draw to it but it sure can be relaxing).
- Many spas have relaxation rooms to sit in before and after treatments, and it’s a great thing to create at home too. A relaxation room doesn’t have to be a “room” per se–it can be a space in your bedroom, for example, but the key is having an area or room at home, solely devoted to relaxing. You can have a really comfortable chair or day bed, with dim lights, or candles nearby– whatever it is that you enjoy and find relaxing. This will give you an opportunity to decompress, with very little stimulus–this is key. Forget the blackberry, cell phone and laptop–this is a time to kick back and relax. You might want to read a book or magazine, but the idea is to clear your mind of distractions and stressors.
- Listening to soothing music can be very relaxing–and slow tempos in particular can induce a calm state of mind. (It can also slow down breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relax tense muscles too). This can be particularly beneficial when you’re getting ready for a tough day at work, or if you’re in your car stuck in traffic, or, if you’re lying in bed trying to free your mind of stressful thoughts. Now keep in mind, my music probably wouldn’t be what some of you would consider soothing, but to me it is, so find that genre that fits for you.
- Take a hot bath. You can do this while listening to your soothing music, meditating, drinking your tea (or a glass of wine) or going off into your relaxation room. Bring in your laptop (oh no! Technology. And de-stressing? Yes) and watch some old classics while you soak, light some candles or incense. The main thing is making sure your able to relax for a bit.
- Last of all find a buddy. Have that go to gal/guy that you can talk to, vent, cry whatever. Typically it’s not a stranger but someone you can trust that will be honest with you, listen to you, and let you get things off your chest, meanwhile not look on you as being a burden because of your rants. It should be someone who supports you.
I’ve recently realized how great of a support group (specifically two special people to me. You know who you are) I have, they mean the world to me and I love them both dearly (this was brought on by you guys, just so you know).