Sunday, June 29, 2014

Revise Your New Year's Goals - Tips to Reduce Stress

Remember the start of the New Year you made those healthy resolutions? Wait, it's July! It's easy to stay motivated at the beginning of the year with gyms offering discounts. Think about your accomplished goals. But how to keep and continue to improve those goals in the peak of summer can be challenging. Personal reflection helps you determine where you are, and where you want to be. This is essential for planning the steps for your health.

Tips for your goals during the summer:
  • Bring a healthy side dish to your next BBQ - share your delicious recipes with family and friends. 
  • Stay hydrated - drink water instead of sugary, high calorie juices and sodas.
  • Treat yourself to a massage - nearby locations often offer a new client discount rate. 
  • Go for a swim - whether it be at the beach or in a pool, cool off while you exercise. 
  • Find free outdoor fitness classes - check out your town's community calendar for a variety of complementary classes. 

For example, my New Year's Resolution was to find ways to reduce stress
  • Took a four-class stress reduction series offered at work, which reviewed relaxing, mindfulness, breathing and mediation techniques. 
    • A journal was encouraged to focus on our reflection and learning during the practice. I discovered that I frequently hold my breath during everyday tasks, even when I do not feel stressed - driving, studying, writing, basically anything that involves intense thinking. Am I holding my breath as I write this blog?
  • Being more mindful of stress.
    • Stress happens every day. Everyone's definition of stress is variable and may change depending on a specific day/moment. Being aware of stressful situations can help trigger management techniques such as breathing.
  • Simply breathe.
    • How can full, deep breaths be difficult for me at times? Don't I need to breathe to maintain life? Slowly inhale for 5 seconds through your nose until your lungs are completely filled with air. Then, exhale over 5 seconds out through your mouth. This technique switches your thinking from a stressful situation to your breath. You can do this anywhere without those around you even noticing. 
  • Accept the ability to focus on YOU.
    • Being mindful is one factor, but you must understand the importance of allowing yourself to take time to relax. This is about your health and controlling chronic stress as you are able.
  • Join a local yoga studio.
    • When I moved to my new apartment, I searched nearby studios and did a trial period at each to find the perfect fit for me. Each studio offered either a beginner class or a new student 7 to 10 day card for a discounted price. Also, fitting into any budget, studios varied in monthly memberships or without any obligation, a card could be purchased for a set price for a number of classes.
  • Get a monthly massage.
    • A massage may not fit into everyone's budget, but studios typically offer a new client one-time discounted rate. A local place offered a Wellness Program, with no additional fees and no required duration - signing up gave a discount rate for a monthly massage (which could roll over if I was unable to use one month and can be transferred to one other person if I wanted to give as a gift). The perfect excuse for me to stick to my monthly goal, I'm saving money over time, especially factoring in my stress reduction and improved health.
  • Future plans: 
    • Free yoga in the city during the summer through September - offered at different locations and on various days.
    • Join a running club.
    • Continue to write. 
    • Consistently aim for 7 to 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep a night.

Be well and have a happy 4th of July! 

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