Managing Stress The New Year brings a lot of opportunity to start new goals and work on yourself for a better year. But it also brings stress associated with obtaining those goals and other beginning of the year stressors. Curb your stress with the following general stress reduction tips.
- Step Back and Put the Problem in Perspective Maybe you're disappointed that you didn't get a promotion you were up for or concerned that money is a little tight this month because of an unexpected medical bill. Feeling stressed is a natural reaction. But try to take a step back and ask yourself: Will this issue still matter in a year? In five years? If the answer is no, take a deep breath and try to move forward. Keeping things in perspective is crucial to managing stress.
- List Some Solutions and Come Up With a Plan If there's a specific problem you need to fix, make a list of all possible solutions and pick the best one for your situation. Realizing that you have options and coming up with a concrete plan will have a direct effect on stress reduction. "Break the task into smaller parts so you can try to accomplish what you need to in an hour, a day and then next week so the problem becomes more manageable," suggests Kubiak.
- Accept Those Things Beyond Your Control Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, and we have to learn to cope with and accept them. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to stressful situations. Staying calm and being willing to accept emotional support from others can help in managing stress.
- Give Yourself a Break to Relax and Recharge Daily stressors can creep up on you before you realize it, so treat yourself to at least one relaxing activity every day. Listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal, or enjoying a soothing bubble bath are all great ways to relax and relieve stress. "Meditation allows us to clear our minds and be able to see things in a more realistic perspective," notes Kubiak. Taking time for yourself is important for both preventing and managing stress.
- Try to Get Some Regular Exercise Every Day Exercise is one of the best methods for managing stress because it can relieve both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Consider fitness choices that also deliver specific stress-reducing effects like yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or one of the martial arts, all great ways to get rid of pent-up stress and negativity. "Exercise can help regulate and dissipate in a productive way those 'fight or flight' stress chemicals in the brain," says Kubiak.
- Open Up to People and Express Your Feelings If something's bothering you, don't keep it to yourself. Talk to people you trust, like friends, family, or coworkers, about what's on your mind. Even if you're not looking for specific advice, it usually feels good just to get your feelings out into the open.
- Set Reasonable Expectations in Your Daily Life Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it's okay to say no to activities at your child's school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don't take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they'll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.
- Resolve Issues Before They Become Crises It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you're concerned about a brewing situation, whether it's at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.
Brain Exercises to Boost Memory Your brain health is important. We don’t just lose muscle over time, our brains can atrophy, too. More specifically, your brain's cognitive reserve, its ability to withstand neurological damage due to aging and other factors without showing visible signs of slowing or memory loss, diminishes through the years. That can make it more difficult to perform mental tasks. Just like the workouts you do to make your muscles stronger, it’s important to exercise your brain to slow and reduce atrophy. The following brain exercises have been proven to work.
- Test your recall. Make a list, of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
- Play Music. Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Studies show that learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.
- Do math in your head. Figure out problems without the aid of pencil, paper, or computer; you can make this more difficult, and athletic, by walking at the same time.
- Take a cooking class. Learn how to cook a new cuisine. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.
- Learn a new language. The listening and hearing involved stimulates the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary has been linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline.
- Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
- Draw a map from memory. After returning home from visiting a new place, try to draw a map of the area; repeat this exercise each time you visit a new location.
- Challenge your taste buds. When eating, try to identify individual ingredients in your meal, including subtle herbs and spices.
- Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, assembling a puzzle, etc.
- Learn a new sport. Start doing an athletic exercise that utilizes both mind and body, such as yoga, golf, or tennis.
Beat the Winter Blues This winter in Colorado, we’ve seen warmer winter days and less snow, but with low light levels we’re still hearing from patients that they are feeling antsy, and a little pent up. How do you curb these pent up feelings? Why not take advantage of what we have - take advantage of the warmth and get outside for your daily exercise by running, hiking, biking or taking a walk at lunch. Don’t have time to get out? Consider the following ideas:
- Go out and play! If you can't seem to muster the energy to work out this time of year, try "playing" instead. You can burn quite a few calories playing indoors or out. The best part about playing is that it doesn't feel like working out—though you can still get your heart rate up and have an excellent cardio session.
- Take up a winter sport. If you're a competitive type, why not try a new winter sport? From skiing to snowshoeing, there are many great options that burn mega calories and put a whole new twist on your cold-weather workout plans
- Get creative at home. Sure, getting to the gym can be more of a hassle when it is cold outside, but never use snowy weather as an excuse to miss your daily exercise. Instead, workout at home, where's it's cozy and warm. Whether you pop in a new workout DVD, invest in a few pieces of fitness equipment or even just use your body weight for a killer workout, exercising at home can be a convenient (and fun!) solution to staying on track. And the best part about working out from your own home? You don't have to worry about sharing a TV with fellow gym goers or possibly catching an illness at the gym. Home really is where the (healthy) heart is.
- Try something new. There's nothing like signing up for a new class or joining an indoor sports league to get you up and moving during chilly months. By trying something new, you reignite your motivation for fitness, cold weather and all! Whether it's indoor volleyball, a dodgeball league, a bootcamp class or even tennis lessons at a local indoor racquet club, participating in a regular activity that you've paid for (or have teammates counting on you to play in) is a fantastic way to stay active in the winter time. You might even make some new friends or learn some new skills.
- Set a big goal—and some little goals. If winter weather leaves your motivation to exercise colder than an icicle, heat things up with a challenging, new goal. It can be anything from losing those last 10 pounds, to running a 5K (yes, you can still run outside in the cold) or even doing a full pull-up, but choose a goal that you really want and that will stretch you beyond your comfort zone to reach it. Setting a smart goal that you then break down into smaller, achievable action steps is a great way to start. Instead of focusing on simply working out this winter, this type of goal-setting allows you to focus on the bigger picture—your dreams.
- Get excited. If you've never been a winter fan, start focusing on what you do love about it and how this time of year provides new opportunities for your fitness and health. From eating delicious in-season produce (oranges, kale, and chestnuts, oh my!), to curling up with a big mug of sugar-free hot cocoa in front of the fireplace after a long workout, there is much to love about winter when you embrace and appreciate it.
Women’s Health: Have you considered your cervical health? In women's health, cervical health, specifically cervical cancer, is an important topic in women’s healthcare. There are many ways as to how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and causes most cases of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV. Many people with HPV don’t know they are infected and each year, more than 11,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. What can I do to combat HPV and Cervical Cancer?
- The HPV vaccine can help prevent HPV
- Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests and follow-up care
New Year. New Goals. Happy 2018! With the new year, comes new goals. You’ve more than likely been thinking about your resolutions and goals for this new year, and health in some capacity is more than likely one of your goals. Below are a few techniques that you can involve to reach all all of your goals, including your health goals this new year.
- Have two types of goals - A "dream goal" and a "settle-for" goal. Two type of goals are crucial for navigating your way to long lasting change. Losing forty pounds before Valentine's Day is a big ask, but committing to lose a couple of pounds a week, for at least six weeks through diet and exercise will get you good results that you'll be happy with.
- Think about the “feel-good” factor on every level. Yes, that spin class makes for a good selfie and will help to shrink your waistline but having a goal to keep fitness sociable will help keep you feeling excited and optimistic about exercise. You can even fit altruism into your routine with your local running club, and combine exercise with social and community efforts.
- One at a time - Don't automatically ditch your favorite treat at the same time as embarking on a new exercise regime. You'll feel fabulous and empowered on day one, but by day 14 you'll be dreaming of a lazy day of pizza in front of your television. Undertake one thing at a time if you're in it for the long haul.
- Get fitness savvy fast. Do a little bit of research before you hit your post-Christmas bod with daily “Insanity” sessions. Is the nausea-inducing burpee really where you need to be? Or would a well-rounded routine that ticks multiple fitness boxes and which you can sustain week in, week out be a better fit? Take a look and plan it out to make sure you’re doing the right and most sustainable plan for you.
- Pay attention to the maths as much as the macros. Calorie counting is making a comeback as we realize that all the coconut oil and cardio in the world won't get us to where we want our weight to be if the math doesn’t add up. A little awareness around the energy content of what you're eating versus the energy expenditure of what you'd doing is often enough to result in some serious shape-shifting.