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April is Stress Awareness

April is Stress Awareness month. 

Having COPD, or any chronic illness can cause your stress level to be elevated, consistently more so, than normal. Stress, is BAD for your health. 

So, this month, I am choosing to focus on ways to reduce stress and organ donation. As it is also National Donate Life Month. I hope you enjoy the posts and find them helpful. 

I created this series of posts to help bring awareness, find ways to combat stress, and let you know that you are never alone! 

What is stress?

Stress is a state of mental strain, emotional strain, or tension resulting from unfortunate or very difficult circumstance. Internally our bodies all react the same way to stress. Our muscles tighten, our breathing becomes more shallow, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises. Because our bodies are working so hard, this depletes our energy and taxes our immune system. 

Externally we freeze up, zone out, become withdrawn, and many times become agitated or even very angry. 

This series is chocked full of lots of ways to relieve stress. Some tools, when you are in the moment, to help you calm yourself. Some tools, for when you are just having one of THOSE days. 

There are many things you can do to reduce the stress level of the moment or day. Humor, is the best medicine. But, you can also listen to soothing music, play games that force you to focus on something OTHER than what is stressing you. Meditate, do some yoga, breathing exercises, physical exercises. See, there are quite a few ways to turn your attention from the stress to other things. 

  • I just took a 4 day weekend trip across town and stayed with my eldest daughter and her family. I did not have access to my computer, and left my tablet to the kids. It was so refreshing to not be checking Facebook, or my Twitter, or my blog stats every day! I plan to do this EVERY week from now on. Just me, the TV, and good company. Maybe not stay at my daughters, but the technology disconnect was bliss. Take the weekend off from the internet... It will still be there when you get back. I promise. The first few times will not be easy, but eventually you will grow to love the quiet. 
  • One easy thing you can do every day, is journal. Write your stress, your happiness, your sadness, your bliss... Write it in a journal. I find that having a nice journal to write in makes me more inclined to actually do it. If not journal, BLOG! Maybe your passion is to write a novel? Do it! Putting words on a paper in story format is wonderful! 
  • Speaking of journals, try keeping a separate journal just for one purpose... Gratitude. Write down a few things each day that you are grateful for. 
  • Have you ever wondered about your previous ancestors? Write the story of your life. We have lost so much of our family history over the years, that this is a WONDERFUL way to memorialize your self, and ensure future generations will have a chance to know YOU the way you want to be remembered. Starting with your earliest memories and try to move through each year as a new chapter. Don't dwell on the negative feelings or experiences of the past... They are in the past for a reason. You have moved on to brighter days. Stay focused on getting everything written up until today. 
  • Read... If you are not the writer, read something you are passionate about. Any genre of book, any educational material or website. 
  • OR watch videos! TV shows, movies, short videos on sites like YouTube... All are great options!
  • Do you paint? Write poems, song lyrics? Do you sculpt? Maybe you knit, crochet, tat, or sew? Don't know what to make? Think about the homeless, and less fortunate. What do they need? Blankets, scarves, sweaters, clothing of all kinds. Donate directly to a homeless or battered women and child shelter, or for auction to raise funds for those types of charity. Animal shelters welcome assistance as well, if they can't use it, it may benefit them in a resale shop they have or future auction or fund raiser. Not only will this help relive your stress, but that of others as well. Double bonus!
  • Maybe you love animals, maybe you don't have any? But you love them none the less. Visit your local animal shelter, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center... All they need is a little love. And petting animals, loving on them... It is scientifically proven to reduce stress. 
  • My personal favorite.. Hey, this is for the women AND men... Take a nice warm/hot bath, scented (clean burning) candles, maybe some essential oils added to the water, lavender and eucalyptus are great for opening the sinuses and airways (unless that is a no no for you), add some soothing music... And wallah! Please don't fall asleep!
  • Take a nice LONG drive through your favorite neighborhood or countryside. Listen to your favorite tunes as you cruise. Hey, gas prices are down, so don't worry about it! 
  • If you can splurge a little, take a weekend trip close to home. We are all just 2 hours from somewhere. Think housekeeping at the hotel, waiters at the restaurants... You don't have to have an action packed, event filled trip. Just RELAX. 
  • Speaking of splurging, maybe a nice massage will be the thing you need to find your calm. Full body, neck and scalp, or just your feet... The choice is yours. 
  • Focus on your breathing! Do your pursed lip/belly breathing, and you will find yourself a little less stressed. Try the 4-7-8 breathing video below, but, if you have COPD exhale longer... As long as it takes to get all the air out of your lungs, be it 10 or 15 seconds. 
  • Bring nature into your home with plants, water fountains, or listen to nature sounds. 
  • When all else fails, take a nap! 

Food and drinks that bring zen into your life:*

  • Chamomile tea
  • Chamomile and mint tea
  • Green tea
  • Oatmeal
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Garlic
  • Dark chocolate
  • Berries
  • Grass fed Beef
  • Salmon or other fatty fish
  • Carrots
  • Milk
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Turkey
  • Oranges
  • Asparagus
  • Whole grains
  • Oysters
Many of these combine well to make a great meal! And others, make for great snacking! 

Foods and drinks to AVOID!*

  • Coffee
  • Energy drinks
  • Butter
  • Cheese, No!!! Please! NO!
  • Sugar
  • Sodas and other caffeinated drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Foods high in poly-saturated fats found in processed foods
  • Alcohol, I know some of you are thinking this is one of the go to stress relievers, but no. Sorry to be the one to tell you. My wine glass is sad too. 
*Now, I have to tell you all... I found lots of conflicting information when it comes to which nuts, meats/shellfish, and tea. So, choose what ever makes YOU happy!

More information can be found in the following articles:

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