This time of year is a bit hectic, to say the least. You’re running from the malls to holiday parties. Just thinking about your list of “things to do” makes you feel breathless. This is why it’s essential to take a few moments to deal with your stress.“It’s really important to control stress because it can be very detrimental to the body and mind,” says Thomas S. Newmark, M.D., Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Cooper University Hospital. “It can affect the stomach, heart, skin and immune system. It can also cause depression and anxiety.”
Stress management may be just what the doctor ordered. Here are some suggestions:
- Take deep breaths. While sitting at a traffic light or at your desk at work, just take a few minutes to inhale and exhale deeply. Do this 10 times.
- Meditate. Set aside a few minutes before bed to clear your head and think of something pleasant such as the beach or taking a hike in the woods. Listen to soothing music.
- Exercise. Just a five-minute walk during lunch can help release some of that pent-up stress and loosen your muscles. Or park your car at the far end of the lot.
- Have a good support system. Call a friend or family member. Having an emotional outlet can go a long way in helping you work out stress.
- Eat healthy. A good diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains will help your blood pressure, cholesterol, digestion and immune system. Good foods consumed throughout the day will also give you energy during this marathon holiday season. Don’t eat on the go when you are less likely to be mindful of the calories and fat you may be consuming. Sit down and enjoy the flavors and aromas.
- Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night. This gives you the sleep you need to feel refreshed. Lack of sleep can affect metabolism, energy levels, mood and even blood pressure. A recent study in the journal Circulation indicates people getting less than six hours of sleep may have higher blood pressure.
- Write it down. Putting it all down on paper can be a cathartic experience, allowing you to distance yourself and work out the issue.
- Learn to say no. You can’t do everything. Saying yes to what you want to do will help you feel more in control of your time.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Newmark or his colleagues, please call 800-8 COOPER (800-826-6737).