Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 tips to reduce stress in your everyday life

STRESSED OUT: Use these 10 tips to reduce stress and
keep your body healthy
Have you been reaching for the stress ball lately? How about feeling overworked or overwhelmed by everything on your plate, including your school, career, and family responsibilities? These are all signs that you might be stressed! And while stress might feel like it's a constant part of your life, it doesn't have to be.

Stress is the basic cause of more than 60 percent of all human illness and disease, according to The American Medical Association. That's why it's imperative to keep your body healthy and stress-free, for the benefit of you and your family.

We recently had the pleasure of welcoming AVA Wellness, whose headquarters are just a few short steps from campus, to Peirce for a workshop on how we can all reduce stress in our everyday lives. Owner of AVA Wellness and lead therapist Vernell Alexander and Reiki specialist Ilia Stranko provided tips and advice for small, easy ways to relax and keep our bodies healthy, and we wanted to share them with you! We hope these tips will benefit everyone in the Peirce community, so read on for 10 easy tips for students to reduce stress.

1. Keep your head level. It might seem like a small change, but try lifting your book, computer screen, or cell phone so you are not looking down all of the time. Studies have shown that constantly looking down and straining your neck can cause headaches and shoulder pain.

2. Get a good pillow. A good pillow can make the difference for a good night's sleep, as well as prevent shoulder pain and neck pinches. It should support the skull and neck, without applying undue pressure, and allow for the neck's natural curve.

3. Give your body time to digest before bed. There should be approximately 12 hours from the time of your last meal at night to when you sit down for breakfast in the morning. (That's why the first meal of the day is called "break fast.") Sleeping is your body's way of healing itself, but if you eat late, your body will spend sleeping time digesting, not repairing. That's why people tend to wake up tired, and can get more stressed throughout the day.

4. Do not pop your neck or jaw. Even if it feels good, jaw popping tends to cause neck pain. It can also degenerate cervical disks, leading to neck and back problems down the road.

5. Drink plenty of water. There are a lot of edicts out there on how much water you should be drinking, but we like the following method. To calculate how much water you should drink each day, take your body weight, divide it in half, then drink that many ounces of water. For every cup of coffee you drink, add two more cups of water.

6. Stretch, stretch, stretch. If you work out, stretch before and after each session. If you don't work out, you should still stretch! Just make sure to do it after a hot shower when the muscles have had time to warm up.

7. Don't underestimate the benefits of foot and back support. Make sure to invest in decent sneakers for walking and working out -- it's worth the money. If you wear heals or shoes that aren't good for posture, wear sneakers during your commute to school and work, then switch shoes when you arrive. If you have a job that involves a lot of standing, place a good support insert in your shoes. If your feet still hurt, add an additional cheaper and thinner insert underneath. Walking or standing on concrete can be a cause of lower back pain and plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot that causes pain and stiffness in the heel).

8. Take time out of your day to meditate. Meditating has been proven to bring your mind and body into homeostasis, meaning it balances you out. Even if it is 10 minutes at the beginning or end of your day, try meditating and see the difference it makes.

9. Find the time to exercise. The benefits of exercise are numerous. Exercise controls your weight, helps combat health conditions and diseases, encourages sleep, and can improve your mood and boost energy and memory, according to the Mayo Clinic. You don't have to log hundreds of hours at the gym. Try walking with friends, joining a neighborhood league, or tossing the baseball around with your kids.

10. Unplug from your devices. Turn off everything, including phones, computers, and televisions, an hour or two before you go to bed. Try reading a book or talking with family members instead. Keeping your mind away from the screens before bed will help you unwind and sleep better. To make it easier, keep these devices out of your bedroom.

We hope these tips help you relieve some stress and manage your day-to-day responsibilities. How do you alleviate stress in your life?