Even though six years have passed, I still think of my time in the classroom especially this time of year (end of July beginning of August). I remember not looking forward to the end of July because it was a reminder that school was quickly approaching. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved being with the children I taught but unfortunately that is such a small part of teaching (though the most important part) For this August newsletter, I want to talk stress, which is what so many teachers endure during the school year. Summer is coming to an end and for many that means back to work, back to school and back to busy schedules. Stress is a funny thing because when you are in the middle of it often you have no idea. As a teacher, I remember thinking this job wasn’t stressful. I didn’t feel stressed. I look back on my years in the classroom and yes, I was very stressed. Stress can show up differently from one person to the next. Before I go on, let me explain that when I say the word “stress” I am referring to chronic stress. A little stress here and there is fine and one could argue healthy. It is the stress that occurs over and over again (chronic stress) that is the problem. Under chronic stress, the body is constantly under tension, digestion is interrupted and sleep doesn’t happen (how can you fight tigers when you are sleeping?). These are just a few of the symptoms. Stress can also show up as headaches, brain fog, moodiness, skin issues like rashes, fatigue, chest pain and a weakened immune system aka sick all the time.
Once you become aware that you are under chronic stress, you need to figure out ways to manage it. If ignored, long-term, ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, stroke, weight gain, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and digestive problems. What to do about chronic stress? Here are my favorite 8 Methods to Manage Stress.
- Exercise Regularly. 10-20 minutes can prove effective at reducing stress and better if it is outdoors in the fresh air.
- Eat a healthy diet. When we eat in a healthy way, we feel good and are able to better handle stressful situations.
- Deep, belly breathing can calm the body down. 4,7,8 is my favorite way to breathe. Take an inhale to a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and slowly exhale for 8. Yoga is great for this!
- Journal/pray/meditate/talk to a friend. I feel all these methods are ways of unloading. Stress can feel like weight on our shoulders and getting it out can release this weight and make us feel lighter and better.
- Home Environment. Make sure your home is a sanctuary. It is clean and clutter free and not an added source to your stress. If it is a source of your stress, clean it up and toss the clutter. Do what you can to minimize the stress and make it a relaxing place.
- Listen to music. Calming music has a positive effect on the brain and body. It can lower blood pressure and reduced cortisol (stress hormone).
- Make sleep a priority. This can be hard as stress makes it hard to sleep. Do your best to set up a bedtime routine and make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep (cold, dark etc).
- Make time to hang out with friends and family. Laugh together!
I have written a 12 question yes/no quiz to determine if you are dealing with stress. Click HERE to take the quiz. Change always starts with awareness and I want to help you build that awareness. For almost eight years, I was not aware. But in the end it is never too late to make changes. You do not have to make a drastic change like I did (career change). Small changes can be just as impactful. Let me know how I can support you on your journey towards better health. Finally, it is always a good idea to see a doctor regularly and get blood work done to be sure you are not deficient in any nutrients and or minerals.