Blair’s 5 Favorite Ways to Lower Stress
I am a control freak. With a planner in my purse, a wall calendar in my room, a mini calendar on my cork board at work, a watch perpetually on my left wrist, and all my wake-up alarms for the week preset on my phone. I schedule dates, highlights, reminders, appointments, due dates, events, and obligations appropriate days with appropriate symbols/times/dress codes/don’t-forget-to-bring reminders. I live in a constant place of “Dear Lord, please don’t let me forget anything or let anyone down.” And heaven help me if I’m feeling rushed or running late.
Anyone else out there know what I’m talking about?
As a woman (even a young one like myself), this is the world we live in. We live with everyone’s needs often put before our own. Yet this is the exact scenario that we find ourselves in where our stress levels spike…and where we say, “Hello cortisol!!”
I’m new to the whole hormones-affect-my-fat-loss thing. But cortisol? This is one hormone I get. Stressful environments, situations, or lifestyles raise your levels of cortisol, which impedes your body’s ability to reach the optimum fat loss potential that you (and I) have.
Stress decreases your ability to burn fat.
This is one lesson that I have become acutely aware of here lately. It’s also one hormone that I’m personally focusing on lowering. And just between you and me, it could quite possibly be the most enjoyable hormone to change! I mean, who doesn’t want to take some time to get rid of their stress and do something that’s not only relaxing but also fun?!
To lower your cortisol, you don’t have to empty your wallet on supplements and fancy foods and special jewelry. All you have to do is lower those stress levels.
Okay, I’m sure some of you are gawking at me right now. Me?! Lower my stress levels?! HAH! Well take it from someone who knows (and who’s felt the effects) – it’s a necessary step to take that will greatly improve your quality of life. Who wants extra premature gray hair anyway?
My 5 Favorite Ways to Lower Stress:
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can find a DVD (they’re pretty cheap at WalMart and Target) that suits what you like, it’s a great way to calm your breathing and release the tension you’ve built up from your day. I bought a DVD for about $13 from Target whose title includes the words “relax” and “stress-reducing”. Exactly what I needed.
Take the power out of your power walk. Go on a quiet stroll that isn’t focused on getting sweaty or burning calories or getting out of breath. Grab the dog, leave your phone (or put it on silent and then don’t play on it) and iPod at home, and find a place that you can enjoy the view. Take your time, listen to your peaceful surroundings, notice the colors or the shapes or the beauty of your surroundings. Absorb the peacefulness that you have put yourself in. Shorthand version: commune with yourself in nature.
This may not always be a feasible choice, but finding yourself out on the water, with the quiet lapping against the hull of your boat, the rhythmic swish of the paddle into and the tinkle of water dripping off your paddle as it comes out of the water will quickly lull you into a place of peace and comfort. You won’t even notice that you’re working your arms and core at the same time.
Tai Chi is not just for geriatric balance training. It’s a rhythmical pattern of movements that flows into and away from the body; pulling the good energy in and pushing the stress out. It’s challenging and more movement-centered, which can be a nice alternative if yoga is just too slow for you.
Leisure Bike Ride
There is a big difference between a leisure ride and a “serious” ride. Just like walking, take the power out of the experience and insert a take-my-time kind of attitude. Ask a friend or a significant other to join you, and use the time not only to move your legs, but to talk and enjoy a meaningful relationship. And with each revolution, try to picture your stress exiting your body – just visualizing this will make a huge difference.
With each of these activities, give yourself all the time you need. Don’t “block yourself in” to a specific time frame (if possible), because the added stress of “I only have 20 minutes to de-stress” will reduce your ability to de-stress. If you have to put a time limit on it, set an alarm on your phone and then forget about the time constraints, that way you can focus on the activity and not the time.
Learning to let go and to not stress is not an easy skill to attain. In fact, it’s probably psychologically easier to just maintain the stress. But physiologically, that’s one of the worst decisions you can make.
Achieving fat loss isn’t just about exercise:
- It’s about how you eat
- Maintaining motivation, and your psychological health
- Getting rid of that stress and that “I can’t attitude
Just like with fat loss, de-stressing takes time and it takes practice.
What are some of your favorite ways to actively reduce stress in your life?
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