Combat stress - it's easy!

Combatting Stress: Summer is ending for students and vacationers alike, and I have to admit, this last summer was a blast. With long schooldays and long work hours awaiting us during the fall season, I think stress is a good topic to tackle.

1. Control your thoughts - My favorite way to tackle stress is to enjoy endless hours of beachtime while sipping ice cold lemonades. But let’s be realistic - we rarely have the time or opportunity to soak in the sun with an endless flow of refreshing beverages. With real schedules in mind, here are a few ways to control stress levels. The first realistic way to control stress is to control your thoughts. Your thoughts make or break your mood, and your mood can affect your stress levels. Positive thoughts like “I can finish this report in time if I just keep focused,” always beat out negative thoughts like “I’m doomed, this report isn’t going to get done and I’m going to get fired.” The thoughts you choose to go through your mind materialize in physical forms and affect stress levels. So the first key for controlling stress is to control your thoughts. Keep positive, and make positive affirmations instead of negative ones. Stop beating yourself up - most of us deserve more credit than we give ourselves.

2. MSG! - Keeping your thoughts positive and upbeat will help create a positive perspective on the stress-inducing obstacles we face day-to-day. Despite our focused efforts to keep our thoughts under control, our stress levels can increase with the consumption of harmful ingredients. MSG (or Monosodium Glutamate) is one of those ingredients that you should avoid at all costs because it can heavily affect your mood and body chemistry. MSG is used to enhance the natural flavours of many foods we eat, including processed meats, vegetables, ice cream, and most snacks. The takeaway point here is to avoid foods that contain MSG. Hint: MSG is also known as “hydrolized protein,” a name companies now use to hide MSG within long ingredients lists. I recommend giving every single label with the word “protein” in it a second look to make sure that you’re not buying a product containing MSG. Okay, okay, so what’s so bad about this ingredient?? We’ll, here’s a list of symptoms describing the physical and psychological effects of MSG on the human body:

> Burning sensation in the back of the neck – forearms, chest

> Chest pain

> Warmth weakness and tingling in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms

> Tightness and/or pressure of the face

> Numbness in the back of the neck, also radiating to the arms and back

> Rapid heartbeat

> Nausea

> Headaches

> Bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in those who are MSG-intolerant (everyone?)

> Drowsiness

> Weakness

> Depression, Mood swings, Rage reactions, Migraine headache, Dizziness, Light-headedness, Loss of balance, Disorientation, Mental confusion, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Hyperactivity, Behavioral problems in children, Attention deficit disorders, Lethargy, Sleepiness, Insomnia, Numbness or paralysis, Seizures, Sciatica, Slurred speech, Chills and shakes, Shuddering, and the list goes on.

Gross. I think I made my point. Moving on:

3. Eat healthy - this requires no elaboration here. You can check out my previous blogs for a full 411 on what healthy eating looks like. =) But just so you know, foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate/B vitamins, and those that are low on the glycemic index, are found to decrease stress and increase positive mood levels. So although buying Hot Cheetos and Kim-Chee Bowls from 7-11 is quick and cheap (...I’m guilty, so guilty...), it’s bad food that will cause bad mood! Stick to healthy options chock full of Omegas, vitamins, and magnesium! Like dark chocolate. ;)

4. Exercise -  Exercising regularly significantly lowers stress levels. In fact, it has the unique capacity to lift up your spirits and exercise your brain along with your body! Thirty minutes of moderate activity a day will do it. Dance until you break a sweat, go up and down a flight of stairs until you start breathing a little heavier than usual, jog instead of walk to the corner store, get up and sit back down twenty times at your computer desk three times a day (start now!), play marco/polo in the local community pool/club, do 30 jumping jacks on the hour, play some tennis, or find your own fun way to get the 30 minutes in. When you start looking for ways to exercise, you’ll realize the options are endless. Get your daily dose of 30 minutes of exercise and you will automatically reduce your stress levels, reduce anxiety, maintain a healthy heart, earn a sense of pride and self-confidence, and keep in physical shape and in generally good cheer.

Here’s your Stress Control Formula - try it ASAP!

Positive thoughts + No MSG + Healthy Food + Regular Exercise = Stress Control

Anela-Lani Alumbaugh

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