Stop stressing out: Coping techniques available

Chelsea Wells
Chelsea Wells

We all have busy lives, and multi-tasking might as well be our middle names. But is this healthy? Not always. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is killing us. Three out of four doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments. 

The causes of stress are many: money, work, relationships, family, traumatic events, death and divorce. That’s not to mention such bad habits as smoking, eating unhealthy foods and lack of exercise. Stress increases the risk for heart disease by 40 percent, heart attack by 25 percent and stroke by 50 percent.

Not only does stress affect us personally, but also at work. Work causes 10 percent of strokes. This could be attributed to the fact about
24 percent of U.S. employees work six or more hours a week without pay. Stress also reduces productivity and morale and increases absenteeism.

So what do we do? We cope. Stress is something that will never go away. We’re all human. Coping techniques are critical and include: Exercising for 30 minutes every day; connecting with others through clubs, sports, friends and family; focusing on the positives in life; improving time management skills; getting sleep and eating nutritiously.

Eating nutritiously reduces stress because antioxidants in fruits and vegetables calm the body and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol levels increase when sugar, refined carbohydrates such as cakes and doughnuts and fatty, greasy foods are consumed. (Stressed? I dare you to grab an apple and drink some water instead of eating a chocolate chip cookie and rushing to Starbucks for a double-shot, extra-large frappuccino). 

Another way to incorporate healthy habits into your life is to get involved with Healthy Mesa County Worksite Wellness. The Mindful May worksite wellness challenge will tackle five different techniques to be mindful and reduce stress:

Physical activity: Exercising is an excellent time to be mindful. Take this time to put the stress aside and be “in the zone” with the physical activity of your choice. Stressed at work? Take a five-minute walk just to be with yourself.

Breathing: Taking a couple of deep breaths can be powerful in resetting your mind for the next challenge. While you’re breathing, think about NOTHING. That’s right, nothing.

Mindful eating: When you eat, are you aware of how everything tastes? How hungry or full you are? How the food satisfies you? Think about these questions. It could influence what you put in your mouth.

Gratefulness and happiness: Reflecting on what makes you happy and what you are grateful for in life is an excellent way to practice mindfulness.

Visualization: Want to go to the beach? The mountains? Take two minutes to visualize your happy place and feel the stress melt away.

This challenge is just a month long, but incorporates health tips and techniques that could significantly change someone’s life. This challenge is easily implemented into the work place, can be tailored to any business or organization and is free. To get more information about Healthy Mesa County Worksite Wellness, call 683-6655 or e-mail healthymesacounty@mesacounty.us.