Better Health by Managing Stress

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This year, one of my goals is to move towards my best health for this stage of my life. In a February blog post, I identified four key areas of focus—food, movement, stress, and sleep—and said I would update you periodically on my progress.

Too often, people focus on food first, and in some ways, I understand this approach because eating the proper food for your body is a major component of getting healthy. But I’m going to save that for another time, because I want to say a little about stress.

I realized I needed to have better ways of coping with stress, and to some degree, the grief I still experience at times since my mother passed away. There are a few ways I have chosen to handle this—grief counseling and talking to my family and friends have helped. I practice moments of stillness, letting myself be quiet. I sit on my cushion and meditate, sometimes quietly, at other times reflecting on a phrase or thought that relaxes or encourages me.

Saying yes only to those commitments or requests where I want to give my time and energy has also been helpful. I scaled back on work and volunteer commitments, and I think carefully before adding anything else to my already full plate. Getting clear on my yes has made saying no much easier. It is not that I did not know how to say no, but I acted as if I was an endless reservoir of energy and resources.

Your way of handling stress might look different, but these are some of the things I have done, and I feel better. Stress affects the body, mind, and spirit; and overload can have adverse consequences. If I stress less, then I can begin to work on some of the other factors affecting my health. Another benefit – I am sleeping better.

What are some of the habits you have developed to manage stress?

Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day has never been only about a romantic relationship for me, it’s a day when I can say “I like you” or “You’re fun to be with.” It does not have to be about dinner, flowers, and chocolate. Keep it simple.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Moving Towards Healthy

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I first heard this quote from Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief and editorial director of Essence magazine, many years ago and it has always stayed with me. She was speaking at a conference about the need to take better care of ourselves, and to make wellness a priority.

It is not always easy, staying on track when it comes to better health, but at the end of last year I shared that I wanted to optimize my health. I took a few important steps – finding a medical practice that understood a more integrative approach to wellness, recognizing my personal baseline, determining where I wanted to go, and putting together a plan. (I discussed my approach to planning here if you want to see how I set my goals.)

In short, there are four variables I need to manage—food, movement, stress, and sleep—and by paying more attention to these areas I can set reasonable goals and go after it. Periodically I’ll update on how it is going, but this is a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix.

Why now? It is this simple—I’m a grown woman who wants to take better care of herself. No excuses. I know what I need and I’m going for it.

Have you faced challenges on your fitness journey?