I wear a LOT of different hats, like many other people I know. There’s just so much to do every day! Sometimes all of it starts to get to me and the stress sets in. Can you relate? I recently discovered (the hard way) that I can’t possibly keep up at that pace without having some kind of backlash. Although stress is inevitable, trying to do too much all the time, will only result in your body screaming at you to slow down. In my case, I ended up with the flu. According to the doctor, that was my body telling me to slow down!One of the benefits of being a Kaiser Permanente member is having access to the wide range of services available. Not only can members schedule a medical appointment with their doctor when they need to but they are also able to discuss things like stress management, that can also affect your health.I had the pleasure of spending some time chatting with Dr. Michael Hanna of Kaiser Permanente Orange County about my own stress and kind of picked his brain for some advice on how to best manage it all. I told him about my tendency to try to “do it all”. His first suggestion was this:There are certain situations that we really have little to no control over. Dr. Hanna highly recommended putting my energy into things I can do something about. As a father, himself, Dr. Hanna had some other great advice for busy parents who find themselves in the same boat and juggling a lot, about how to best manage & combat their stress. Here are some of his best tips for managing stress:
It seems like we should all know this already but hearing how important proper nutrition is for building your defense against stress was a great reminder. It’s crucial to start each day with a good breakfast. If you’re busy and on-the-go constantly, it’s extra important to pack food to take with you, so you can eat something nutritious every 3-4 hours. Ideal foods are high in fiber, such as toast, bread, beans and cheese, tortillas, and popcorn, and help you feel fuller for a longer time period. Eating 3 daily meals along with a couple of snacks is ideal.Hydration
Keeping yourself hydrated is another important and beneficial step you can take. If you have a difficult time getting enough water, try adding cucumber or even sliced fruit to your water bottle to give your water slight flavor. Bring my water to work in a fun water bottle seems to motivate me to drink more. It’s also a good idea to limit your caffeine intake, as it can be dehydrating.Exercise
There are many health benefits associated with exercise. Whether it’s yoga, cycling, running, or even going out for a walk, a minimum of 30 minutes 3-5 times per week is a general recommendation for everyone. Not only can regular exercise help with stress, it also helps you sleep better. Sleep
According to Dr. Hanna, the most natural way your body restores itself is through sleep and rest. Adults should sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. The ideal sleeping temperature that a room should be is in the mid 60’s. This seems pretty chilly but I actually sleep better when it’s cool like this in my room. You should refrain from TV and computer time for at least an hour before going to bed. One other important tip I got from Dr. Hanna is “Don’t go to bed with worries!” I try my best on this one but sometimes it’s hard.
Declutter and Organize
Believe it or not, the more organized your life is, which includes both your home and work space, the better. There’s just something to be said about not having a piles of paper everywhere or a bunch of stuff lying around. Organization is something I’ve been working on at home. I’ve eliminated a lot of extra “stuff” that I rarely use. By donating these unused items, it also helps out someone else.How to Manage Stress When It’s Actually Happening to You
I asked Dr. Hanna for some strategies to try when I’m actually experiencing stress. An example would be stress at work. I teach first grade and there are some days that just get very hectic. He suggested I take some time out in the midst of chaos. Obviously I can’t just walk away from my students, but during recess or my lunch hour, I can certainly set aside 5, 10, or even 15 minutes to get into “a slow zone” and just relax and be away from that chaos. Another great recommendation is to take deep belly breaths to slow my breathing down, which will result in a calmer version of me.At the end of our talk, Dr. Hanna said something that really stuck with me. He said, “Have hope! This too, shall pass!” Honestly, if you can just rally through the trying times, there’s going to be something good that will eventually show up for you. Kaiser Permanente strives to help all of its members and employees work towards total health and wellness. Members can take classes, covering a wide variety of topics relevant to health, that are a good fit for their own situation. Being able to successfully manage stress, or in simpler terms “life management”, can only have positive benefits for an individual. To learn more about Kaiser Permanente and the services health and well-being services available to its members, go here.
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