Your Health: Stress Relief

Few, if any, of us can say that we live stress-free. It’s part of life, and it does have a purpose. The results of stress can help us deal with moments of crisis and stir us to action. But too much stress can negatively impact our health, encouraging problems from heart issues to gastrointestinal concerns. So how do we take control of our health and cut back our stress levels? It can be easier said than done, however, here are some ideas that may help you.

The first step is to figure out what’s causing you the stress. If a particular situation, person, or item on your to-do list is creating your stress, identifying it and dealing with it can be the most effective solution. This means you’re taking care of the cause, not just the symptoms. If the cause cannot be taken care of, however, there are ways to deal with the symptoms that may bring you relief.

Massage is a popular choice, as is any method of pampering: manicures and pedicures, salon and spa treatments such as facials, relaxing in a hot tub. These can help loosen your muscles and get you to breathe easier, leaving your mind free to deal with the stressful situation.

Along the same lines is physical activity. Getting your body active can also let your mind clear. Take a walk, go for a hike, or ride a bike. Go to the gym. Play a sport with friends. Dance. Sing. Do yoga. The more muscles the activity uses, the better. Then, after you’ve exerted yourself, take a warm shower to soothe your muscles and let your body unwind.

You can also try simply taking deep breaths. Sit in a comfortable chair with your hands on your lap. Close your eyes and take deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus only on your breathing. Let your shoulders sag, your muscles relax. Roll your neck. The longer you’re able to focus on your breathing, the better. Let the stress melt off you.

Sometimes the best cure for stress is getting your mind off it. Participate in an activity that brings you joy. Do you have a hobby you enjoy? Are there friends you like to socialize with? Is there a food or activity that gets your mind off everything else? Go out to the movies (and pick an upbeat comedy rather than that dramatic downer). Read a book. Listen to music.

To really get your mind off your own problems, try helping others who are less fortunate. Doing volunteer work can make your situation seem a whole lot simpler. Check out VolunteerMatch for ideas and opportunities or call your local social services department to find out where you can help.

Last but not least, don’t forget taking action. I find that if I’m stressed about a situation, taking actions to improve that situation brings me the greatest relief. Then I feel like I’m actually doing something, instead of avoiding it. Even if the solution has not been found, and the cause is not completely dealt with, at least I know I’m getting there. And that can help relieve stress in the long-term, not just the present.

Your Health: Online Help

No matter what your health goals are, there are probably people out there who are going through the same thing. Whether it’s losing weight, starting an exercise program, eating better, or dealing with a particular disease or ailment, rest assured that you’re not alone. As a result, there will be websites to help you in your journey. In a previous post, I listed several sites to help you find a doctor, optometrist or dentist. If you don’t have a doctor yet, I urge you to start with that, before tackling any specific goals or self-diagnosing.

For overall medical information, my favorite site is WebMD. I can search by symptoms, or get general information, home treatments, and tips on when to call my doctor. While it’s not a replacement for actually seeing a doctor, it can be a helpful tool when you have a quick question or want to find out what that symptom might mean. The Mayo Clinic also has helpful information and research tools that can help you. When I was pregnant and had a newborn, I also found The Bump to be a helpful site. Not only do they have articles in which they answer questions, but there are also a variety of forums on the site to help anyone who is trying to conceive, who is pregnant, or who has a child. These sites, however, are certainly not the only ones out there.

Specific Diseases
If you’re looking for information on a particular disease or ailment, your best bet would likely be to do an internet search. There are simply too many categories for me to list on here! Just visit your favorite search engine, and type in the disease or ailment you’re looking for information on. If you’re trying to find a support group or forum, search for “forum: disease or ailment,” filling in “disease or ailment” with the actual disease or ailment you’re looking for information on, of course!

Losing Weight, Getting Healthy
When it comes to losing weight, starting a fitness regime, or eating healthier, the material out there tends to overlap. Therefore the sites below cover multiple categories, despite the names. And some sites will also offer forums, making them a valuable resource to discuss your goals and progress with others. Keep in mind that these are just a tiny sampling of the helpful sites that are out there.

Also keep in mind that some weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, also offer online components to their programs, which can be valuable tools as well if you find yourself needing extra help in your goals.

Beyond the Internet
Websites are not the only tools out there to help you succeed in your goals. If you have a smart phone or tablet, search for health apps. From calorie counters to pedometers to personal trainers, there’s an app for it. You can find yoga positions, healthy recipes, relaxing sounds, and more. There are even apps to help you quit smoking, train for a marathon, or learn emergency first aid. These apps can offer valuable information or an added boost to keep you motivated. Just be sure to check out review to find the best ones!

Your Health: Getting a Tune-Up

With the overall busy-ness of life, it’s easy to let your health take a backseat. Women, especially, are notorious for putting everything and everyone ahead of themselves. So until something happens, visiting the doctor is bottom on the priority list. If you’ve decided to take charge of your health, it’s likely you want to change at least some part of this.
Taking charge of your health, though, is more than just tackling the weight issue or the quitting smoking issue — or any of the more specific, demanding goals you’ve established. Taking charge of your health should be about making sure you’re running your best, keeping yourself in shape and healthy. Still need convincing? Here are some reasons why making your health a priority can be a good thing:
  • You’ll feel better
  • You’ll look better
  • You’ll catch problems earlier — which means better chance of recovery
  • Lower overall medical bills, because you’ll have less issues less often
If you’re convinced that taking overall care of yourself is the best course of action, there’s no time like the present to start. Schedule a physical with your primary care physician (PCP) to get checked out. Women, also schedule an exam with your gynecologist. Don’t have a PCP or gynecologist? Try the sites below to find one:
While you’re at it, you may want to schedule a check-up with your dentist and optometrist, too. Get everything checked out so you know what you’re working with. To find a dentist or optometrist, try the sites below:
Once you’ve made your appointments, take a few minutes to think about anything you might want to discuss with the doctors. Are there any concerns you have? Questions you have? Have you noticed anything “off” about your body lately? Any symptoms you can’t quite explain? Write down anything you want to know more about or want the doctor to check out.
Now here’s the key: take that list and actually talk to the doctor. It can be easy to get shy or nervous when talking about personal, private things like your body. But the doctor can’t help unless he or she knows what’s wrong. And that doctor won’t know how you feel. Try not to be nervous — there’s likely nothing you can say or feel that the doctor hasn’t experienced before. Think how much better you’ll feel just getting reassurance or taking measures to get better!
Once the appointment is over, though, you’re not done. It’s one thing to go to the doctor and get checked out. It’s quite another to follow through and actually carry out the recommendations the doctor has made. To get yourself in tip-top shape and keep yourself there, you need to take into consideration what the doctor has recommended.
Take notes if necessary. What is the doctor recommending you do? Are there vitamins or medications he or she is recommending? An exercise regimen to start or continue? Special diet to follow? Are there tests he or she is sending you for? Anything you need to monitor? If you don’t agree with something or have concerns about it, get a second opinion.
Once you have a course of action, stick with it. There will be times that it’s not easy, especially if the changes are drastic. And you won’t feel spic-and-span brand new right away. Things take time. Just take things one step at a time and keep your eye on the ultimate goal of being healthy. And think about how great you’ll feel when you get there!

Take Charge of Your Health

When it comes to your health, there are some things you have control over, and some things you don’t. I’m sure if we could all live a healthy, pain-free life, we would. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do everything possible to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

Overall Maintenance
Regular physicals are a great idea. Not only will they let you know how you’re doing — and catch potential problems early — they’ll also give you an opportunity to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have had. You can ask questions, get checked out, and see what you need to do to get yourself in good shape.

If you’re not a fan of traditional medical establishments, there are alternative medical practices that can help you as well: chiropractic, acupuncture, Nutrition Response Testing and others. You’re kind of like a car — if you maintain yourself, you’ll last longer. Don’t take care of yourself, and you’re bound to encounter problems.

Getting Better
If you have medical concerns, discuss with your medical practitioner how to help yourself. Are there vitamins or medications you should be taking? Is there a diet or fitness regimen you should be following? Knowing what you should do to put yourself in the best position possible can help put you in control and make you feel like you can change your life. Even if you can’t control everything, controlling the controllables can put you in a better position overall.

Diet
Most of us have probably been on some kind of diet at some point in our lives. Whether it was to lose weight, get healthy, or follow a medical recommendation, these diets have likely altered our ways of eating. Did they work? What was effective and what wasn’t? Why or why not?

A well-balanced diet filled with nutrients is, obviously the best choice. Your dietary needs and limitations can adjust the specifics of what you can and cannot eat, however, and to determine the best diet for you I encourage you to discuss with your medical practitioners. If you have no specific limitations, look to fill your diet with a variety of proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit sugar and fat intake. You know — the basics that you’ve probably been hearing about since elementary school. Your personality may make this easy or difficult, but keep in mind that you control what you eat, and you can take charge of this part of your life, just as you can with the others.

Keeping Fit
Most doctors will tell you that physical activity is good for you. Get moving and you can reap the benefits of higher metabolism, great muscle tone, lower body fat and others. You can strengthen your heart and keep everything working more smoothly.

I admit, I could do better in this area. And I hope to do so in the coming year. I’m sure having a little one to run around after will keep me in better shape! But baby aside, I need to walk more, move more, instead of so much sitting. To do that, I will be coming up with a game plan to get myself in shape. Exercise, partnered with a better diet, should help me make that a reality. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

In the meantime, think about what you can do to get yourself moving. Even if you have a tight schedule, chances are you can fit in a daily walk or jog, a quick yoga session, or even a dance around the living room, rocking out to the latest hits.