Stress, it has been proven, is a killer in the long run. And it can really knock a person’s good health down a notch or two in the mean time. Someone can have the best diet and a phenomenal activity level, but stress can come in and zap all of those good efforts. Stress is subjective though, and can be a silent attacker. What stresses one person out may not be a big deal to someone else. What can roll off one person’s back can certainly raise blood pressure and decrease health in another.
Stress is not really a useful term for scientists studying it because it is so subjective. Ask 10 people what their stressors are and you will get 10 different answers. Stress is more of a pop culture term, but we all know what it means and how it feels. While stress can be positive, mostly it is referred to as a negative. Stress can cause the “flight or fight” response that dumps adrenaline into our bloodstream, altering body chemistry. This can be used in a good way, for example, if we are trying to get out of a burning building or avoiding a car wreck. Problem is, some of us can feel that ”flight or fight” response daily from other more routine stressors, causing our hormones to swing out of whack if we are not careful. But we all know our own triggers. Time to recognize them, turn away, take a deep breath, and focus on the Zen Zone.
Relax. I know. Easier said than done. Finding time to relax in a busy life is challenging, Frankly, taking some “me time” can feel frivolous at times. Selfish. But nothing is farther from the truth! You can do it. I had 3 babies in 4 years. With children so young and so close in age, finding time to relax is a joke. But I tried.
When my children were preschool aged, I sat them down and had a talk with them. I told them mommy needed mommy time. I needed a few minutes of peace and quiet to make me a better mommy. Every busy mommy needs to rejuvenate. They did not know how to tell time yet, but I taught them how to read a digital timer. Or at least to recognize that when it was running and not yet to zero, it was mommy time. Time to give mommy her space. I asked the children not to talk to me for a few minutes. I interacted, and still do, with my children all day long and loved and cherished every minute of it. My kids are the most important component of my happy world. But a few minutes of peace and quiet is golden. And refreshing!
I think it is very healthy to teach our children that every one needs personal time. When I was having mommy time, i did little more than lay on the couch for 30 minutes and read the paper. But it felt good! And I felt it was a very good lesson for my children to learn to put others first. This was a way they could watch me put me first, even if it was only for 30 minutes. They always respected the time that I took for myself.
Reducing stress sounds very cliché these days. And ways to do it are everywhere you look. Websites, magazine covers, pamphlets in our doctors office. I will bypass the obvious, like increasing sleep, eating healthier, and slowing down. I will break it down to adding beauty to your life. That can reduce stress! And it can be simple. There are a million simple ways to do it. Here are a few simple things that I focused on.
- Flowers in a vase
- De-cluttering a cluttered area, like a closet.
- Taking a bath
- Taking a walk, noticing and appreciating nature
- Calling a friend and chatting/venting/listening/laughing for a few minutes
- Using china or a pretty and festive table cloth for a meal
Simply surrounding yourself with beauty, and not “waiting” for a special occasion, is very rejuvenating to me. My absolute favorite scent is from the flower Lillies of the Valley. A few whiffs of that scent relaxes me. Perhaps because I force myself to breathe the lovely scent in deeply, close my eyes, and really transport myself to a place of beauty. It works for me. What works for you?