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9.19.2011

destressing discoveries from a mountain top.

I went on the most invigorating hiking adventure yesterday, which meant several hours (between the commute to the mountain and the actual hike) to do some serious self-reflection; the last month hasn't exactly been a walk in the park. Stress is a reality of life and unfortunately has created a growing number of serious medical problems in recent times. It knows no gender, race, or age- it reeks health havoc on all types of people. Occasionally we are haunted by a good case of "sweating the small stuff," which can be easily handled by taking a step back and recognizing that the immense anxiety we are experiencing is created by our own doing. At other times, it's real problems creating real issues in your daily life. Regardless of what is stressing you out, having coping mechanisms in place for times you feel like yanking your hair out is the only way to get by. Most of us have our own little tricks that keep us from screaming at the top of our lungs, but in case you are just at your wits end, do not fret, help is here!

Exercise; Physical activity causes your brain to release endorphins AKA "feel good" chemicals. Doesn't matter how you get it, but some of my personal favorites are walking, running, hiking, fitness classes, yoga, golf, and biking. I urge you to try something new, whether solo, with a friend, or with your significant other, because you might just get hooked- like I did with BodyPump.

Creative Crafts; How fun is it to give a room in your home a facelift? Even just adding a new piece of artwork, a sweet smelling candle, picture frame, or side table makes such a difference. This weekend I spent a couple hours revamping our living room, and just doing a little decluttering brought the relaxation potential in that room through the roof. Some other crafty activities are painting, yard saleing, gardening, baking, thrifting, scrap booking, reorganizing, cleaning, or snapping some photographs. 

The Great Outdoors; A breath of fresh air does every body good! Aside from the usual physical outdoor activities, think about walking around a winery, checking out a farmers market, going fruit picking, puddle jumping (relive your youth a little!) "borrowing" a friends furry friend for a walk, or even just some window shopping.

Thinking Deeply; Let go of everything you are holding on to via writing a journal entry, a blog post, a poem, listening to music, calling a friend, taking a bath, lighting some candles, sipping some tea, taking a cat nap, reading a good book, getting a massage, planning a weekend away, or meditating. Gain some perspective by participating in volunteer work at a homeless shelter, a rape crisis center, or soup kitchen. Sometimes just having some alone time to reflect is the best medicine for stress.

Buddy Up; Having an outlet to vent is very helpful since keeping it all locked inside will only turn you into a big grey ball of anxiety! Make a phone call or meet a friend for a cup-o-joe, dinner or cold beverage. Attend a concert, visit a museum, or have a "girls night in."

What to Avoid; Try to neither cut down on your usual caloric intake, nor increase it. There is no such thing as no-calorie cookies! Don't lock yourself in a room and avoid all human contact. Avoid going shopping; some people love "shopping therapy," but just make sure you aren't sabotaging your budget in doing so. Don't act impulsively. Avoid the scale. Don't think taking drugs or chugging alcohol will make it all go away; if anything, it will only provide temporary relief (and a hangover). Don't run away from it; it'll still be there when you stop running. And lastly, don't take it out on the people that care for you the most; they are ONLY trying to help.

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