THE DECOMPRESSION ZONE!!!
Having just returned from a wee break I recalled a life long lesson from my father, who said…”once you finish a holiday, immediately book the next one!!!” It’s critical advice in order to rejuvenate your mental and physical health… I call it entering the “decompression zone!” Our tech driven lifestyle demands immediate response to emails, Twitter, voicemails, Facebook and Instagram posts. This simply piles on the stress!!! We face personal, family, business issues each day that demand resolution…each with a differing level of seriousness. A constant sense of “I must do something about this and right now” adds to the stress levels.
Fact Health outlines the 10 typical Symptoms of Stress:
- Acne…what teenager doesn’t break out with self-imposed stress
- Chronic Pain…the shoulders, the lower back, stress hormones cause muscle tension
- Sweating…when anxious, we sweat; stress hormones flood the body, raising our temperature and sweat glands try to cool the body
- Illness…stress weakens the immune system leading to illness, there is a correlation between high stress and those less physically active and poor diets, both of which weaken the immune system
- Headaches…stress boosts tension, tension leads to headaches
- Insomnia…stress over a prolonged period without a lifestyle change can affect your sleep
- Appetite Issues…with high anxiety comes binging, often on unhealthy foods, stress causes us to eat more, not less!!!
- Digestive problems…stress triggers the natural ‘flight vs fight’ response mechanism, redirecting energy away from the digestive system to the muscles, to flee or do battle…this causes digestive issues
- Depression…some suggest that stress causes depression…both are linked and compound each other, worsening both conditions
- Fatigue…mental and physical fatigue can be brought on by stress. What’s needed is a lifestyle change
So those are the symptoms…now what is the cure? How do we enter the “decompression zone”?! Here is my summary with help from Healthline.com:
- Exercise…regular exercise will lower stress, release the good endorphins and improve sleep
- Supplements…certain ones can reduce stress: green tea, omega 3 fatty acids, lemon balm
- Light a Candle…aromatherapy can help lower stress by creating a calming environment
- Reduce Caffeine…too much coffee equals too much anxiety
- Write it Down… I’m doing it right now, writing takes time, stimulates and soothes the creative mind…focus on the positive!
- Chew Gum…according to several studies chewing gum helps you relax and promotes well being, thereby reducing stress
- Spend Time with Friends…being part of a network of like-minded people enhances self worth and lowers anxiety
- Laugh…it’s hard to be anxious when you are laughing. It takes 44 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile…it’s much easier to laugh!!!
- Learn to say NO!!! Don’t take on more than you can handle
- Avoid Procrastination…if you can do it now…get it done, prioritize your to-do list and get done one at a time!!!
- Practice Mindfulness…be in the present…yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow a broken promise, focus on today and learn to meditate to seek calmness.
- Cuddle…cuddling, kissing, hugging, and having sex releases oxytocin and lowers blood pressure…reducing anxiety
- Listen to soothing music…Metallica won’t do it, but your favourite Dianna Krall might…music is relaxing
- Deep Breathing…this helps your parasympathetic nervous system to activate and control the relaxation response mechanism…learn how to do this every day.
- Spend Time with a Pet…a pet gives you purpose, keeps you active and provides companionship. Nothing is sweeter than when I come home after a stressful day to the unconditional love from PINOT, our Bernese Mountain dog…100 pounds of incredible bouncing joy…just to see me!!!
The bottom line is to enter your ‘decompression zone’ every day. Improve your work-life balance in whichever way works for you. Now a little stress, a little pressure is a good thing as it spurs action; the objective is to live a long and healthy life by recognizing the symptoms of stress and what you can do to relieve them. So unplug, go outside for a walk, smile and book that next holiday break right now and above all…Live Positive!!!