Summer is here, and the kids are out of school. It’s the time of year to just sit back and relax. The last thing we need is to be stressed over are the events in Orlando, Dallas and now Nice. The 24-hour news cycle can keep us glued to our TV sets if we’re not careful.
I was recently at a Compassionate Friends National Conference where a friend came up and said he read an article I had written about dealing with stress in traumatic times. The major suggestion that helped him was the idea of taking a news break. He had been watching the news two or three hours a day and has now cut down to one hour. Given the state of the world and the fact that the national political conventions could trigger demonstrations and protests I thought this might be a good time for me to take a news break.
Below I am offering some simple tips I use to reduce my stress.
- Walk — According to the Harvard University Gazette, Oct. 8, 1998, 30 minutes of walking, five days a week could decrease your risk of stroke by a quarter while walking 60 minutes five days a week, can cut your risk of having a stroke almost in half. A study by Holden, 2012 found that walking just 10 minutes a day can make you feel better even two hours later.
- Talk — Share your concerns with friends and family. The late Dr. John Romano professor emeritus at the University of Rochester once commented to me that, “If everyone had three people they could truly confide in we wouldn’t need psychiatrists.”
- Express Gratitude — Think of three or four things you are grateful for everyday according to Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2007 gratitude can change your mood and outlook on life. Don’t get to grandiose appreciating a beautiful sunrise or sunset can give you a real boost.
- Snap Your Fingers — Raise your arms over your head to eye level and snap your fingers simultaneously. Unique movements have been shown this will raise your energy level.
- Hum, sing or whistle — One minute of doing this increases my feel good hormones. Try it now.
- Sign Up for a Yoga Class — In a study by Novotney, 2009 it was found that subjects who practiced yoga three times a week for 8 weeks had a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and neurotic symptoms.
- Listen to uplifting music — Create an upbeat play list. I love the theater so I often listen to show tunes.
- Practice Self-Compassion — In the book The Inner Game Of Tennis Timothy Gallwey makes the comment that when playing doubles or singles you shouldn’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your partner. I try to live by his advice on and off the court.
- Touch — Give and get hugs or just put your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug. Shake hands whenever you get a chance or touch someone on the shoulder. Physical contact has been shown to cause the body to produce feel good hormones thus reducing stress levels. Grewen & Light, 200
- Preform Random Acts of Kindness — According to Tkach, Lyubomirsky, 2006 doing things for others without expectation can reduce anxiety and increase feelings satisfaction. Pay for a kid’s ice cream cone or the bridge toll for the guy’s car behind you. I have done both and it was not only fun but also it felt well.
- Laugh or smile — According to Smith, Kemp and Segal, 2012 laughter Relieves stress for up to 45 minutes boosts the immune system and triggers the release of endorphins. Don’t feel like laughing. Put a pencil between your teeth and your brain will think you are smiling. Soussignan, R. 2002
Simple ideas yes, but they work.