Replace Your Bad Habits with Stress Management Techniques
Stress is the cause of many health issues, as well as a contributing factor to the obesity problem that our nation is facing. As we take a closer look at the various ways we can manage our stress, let’s also consider the not-so-productive ways we try to get a quick-fix-on-the-fly.
Being aware of these bad habits is the first step we can take in replacing them with stress management techniques that are more productive and gratifying.
Is Stress Contributing to Your Weight Gain?
If you consider how often and how automatically we rely on food to manage our anxiety, medicate our feelings and manipulate our moods, the link between stress and food is undeniable. In a time of stress, most people are more likely to turn to a snack than a pal. But food is our fuel, not our friend. Because emotional eating is such a big factor in the development of obesity, this week we are taking a closer look at stress, identifying the sources of it and managing the effects of it.
Begin thinking about the things you do to manage your stress when you can’t have that snack you’re prone to grab. Some might not be any better for you than the snack reaction. But there are much healthier ways of handling momentary periods of pressure, ways that can free us from our reliance on food as comfort, and actually come in handy when we’re stressed out and it’s just not convenient to have a hot fudge sundae.
Our favorites include massage and focused relaxation. Now, if you were in the middle of some work-related pressure, you’d probably be thinking, “Who’s got time for a massage? Give me the corn chips!” But both these stress tools can be fairly quick mechanisms. We’re talking about self-massage here, and simple meditation techniques that don’t require any more than a few minutes.
When you’re stressed out, where do you typically feel the tension first? For most of us, stiffness and tenderness in the neck and shoulders are immediate clues to stress. Rather than medicate or mask the tension, try an active, hands-on approach.
1. Reach up with both hands to the base of your skull, with one hand under each ear. Feel the muscles and the bones.
2. Press firmly against the bone with some pressure. If you do this correctly, at first it will feel uncomfortable.
3. Move your hands back and forth in short, lateral movements down the muscles of your neck so that you cover the entire width and length of the muscle.
If it feels uncomfortable, remind yourself that the relief will last longer than the discomfort.
How has self-massage and meditation helped you during stressful situations?