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Stress Management

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With busy schedules and increasing demands at work and at home, trying to fit in even 10 minutes a day for a new diet and exercise program can seem like a monumental chore and simply add to already high stress levels. But stress management often doesn't seem like a top priority - just getting through each day can be a goal in itself! What we don't always realize is that good mental health is just as important as our physical health and allows us to enjoy the occasional respites from our hectic schedules; in fact, a relaxed, positive outlook on life can help us work through the daunting challenge of losing weight. A consistent stress management program is essential to taking off - and keeping off - those unwanted inches.

Depending on what is relaxing to you, stress management can be as simple and spontaneous as listening to your favorite CD before going to bed or as premeditated as working out a time management system that allows you to schedule time for that 20 minute workout. Listed below are several stress management techniques that can help you in your quest for permanent weight loss.

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Music Relaxation

Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and allow your body to relax to your favorite music. Whether it's jazz, blues, rock 'n roll, country, classical, or new age, simply let the music wash over your mind for at least 5-10 minutes every day. Don't answer the phone, fold the clothes, or mentally run through your "to do" list for the day (this will be difficult, especially in the beginning). When you listen to music, you are switching from the logical, analytical left side of your brain to the intuitive, emotion-based right side; you really are "switching gears" mentally! You'll find that just these few minutes each day really refresh and motivate you to.

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Deep Breathing

Stress causes our breathing to become shallower and take in less oxygen with each breath, forcing our blood to move through our bodies more quickly to get enough oxygen to our brain and vital organs. You can offset this stress response and relieve symptoms of stress such as backaches, stomachaches, hypertension, headaches and insomnia with consistent, long term use of deep breathing exercises. To begin, place yourself in a comfortable position, sitting, standing, or lying down. Make sure that you are wearing comfortable clothing. Inhale deeply through your nose and silently count to five; allow your lower abdomen to fill with air. Exhale through your mouth and silently count to five. Do this for at least two minutes. You can increase relaxation with visual imagery. Imagine that you are in your favorite spot - real or imagined - and focus on the smells, tastes, and sounds of the landscape as you practice your deep breathing exercises. As you hone your breathing technique, you'll find that you can increase the number of counts between inhaling and exhaling.

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Aromatic Foot Bath

Aromatic baths can increase your circulation and relax your muscles, and the oils in this recipe will make your skin positively tingle! Add six drops of eucalyptus oil and six drops of rosemary oil to a bowl of very warm water. Soak your feet for 10 minutes. Run hot water over your ankles and feet for 30 seconds and then run cold water over your ankles and feet for 30 seconds.

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Travel Lag

Whether you're traveling by airplane, boat, or car, you'll find that the time zone changes, cramped quarters, and different environments will take their toll on your mental and physical well being. Keep sachets of lavender, rosemary, and lemon with you when you travel. The scent of lavender will relax you; rosemary and lemon will keep you alert. Lavender, rosemary, and lemon scented candles, baths, and facials are also excellent ways to counteract the effects of travel lag, and they're compact enough to take with you wherever you go!

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Time Management

Time management is crucial in reducing stress. Always leave a little room in your day for surprises - expect the unexpected. Make a "goals" list every morning, prioritize them by number ("one" being most important, "two" being less important, and so forth). Make sure you remain flexible enough to not berate yourself if you don't finish everything; if you finish nine out of ten items, you're still at 90 percent. As you complete each task, remember to check it off. Each check is another step in taking charge of your life!

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Exercise

Believe it or not, exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress. A good workout gets the blood flowing to all of the major organs and your brain. You'll find that a consistent exercise schedule not only keeps you alert and focused during the day, but also helps you sleep better at night.

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Indulge Yourself

Spend time with your friends and family, learn a new hobby, re-read a chapter of your favorite book each night. Laugh! Laughing is a wonderful way to release tension and it will help you remember the things that are going well in your life. Even if you think that there isn't a minute to spare in your schedule, you'll find that a little indulgence to better your quality of life now can really pay off in the long run.

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