Wellness

Ways to Overcome Stress in the New Year

January 11, 2019

Ways to Overcome Stress in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions and goals can be exciting, but also stressful at times. With that being said, there is definitely room for good stress relief practices in our routines. My life is busy, your life is busy, and we all have busy schedules that can cause stress. I have found that incorporating one or more of these activities into my daily life, helps decrease the level of stress and increase happiness and overall health.  These include: practicing gratitude; yoga or other types of exercise, and nutritional supplements (since I am a practicing pharmacist of course).

Let’s begin with gratitude. Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. When we express this deep appreciation and thankfulness for the gifts or moments we each have, this can bring about a sense of calmness. I ask my kids each night before bed what they are grateful for in order to help build this practice. Since we’ve started doing this, we are able to turn daily events from negative to positive and how we can be thankful for each moment. Begin or end your day (or both) with this practice.  Just as I have found, I am sure that you too will find that gratitude begets gratitude…and happiness, and joy, and fulfillment!

Practicing yoga has been another key player in my life for stress reduction and internal happiness. Every person can partake in and benefit from practicing yoga. Yoga aligns breath and body movement in unison to attain better balance both mentally and physically.  Breath awareness is what I have found to be most beneficial for everyday life. Being aware of each breath also brings about a sense of calmness and presence in each moment. At various moments throughout my day, I pause to notice my breath—inhales and exhales. Immediately, I am brought to the present moment of time. In times of frustration or stress, I will practice Ujayi breathing (pronounced oo-jai). Ujayi involves beginning with closed lips and inhaling through the nose with a partially closed throat. Inhale to the count of 3 or so, and exhale to the same count. The method is especially useful when trying to calm your frustration discretely—as in a work situation or with children present. This type of breath is amazing for relieving tension and detoxifying the mind and body. Once you try it, you will see the benefits. As with any exercise, yoga may be new for you or possibly intimidating. Try a video at home or sign up for a class somewhere.  Once you find the right class for you, you will enjoy the endless benefits. 

Really, any type of exercise can be a stress reliever! I am fully aware that if I do not exercise on a regular basis, I am not nearly as happy. I need this time each day to sweat a little and work out any frustrations.  If exercise is not a regular part of your day, start with just a five-minute walk around your neighborhood, and increase that a few minutes each week. While you’re out, be present in that moment and enjoy the neighbors or the beauty of nature that you are passing. Be grateful for your presence here (there’s that gratitude again). Not only will exercise increase your happiness, it also can increase energy levels, help regulate blood pressure and decrease blood sugar levels. The benefits are infinite! As always, set attainable, realistic goals and discuss your exercise routine with your medical provider before beginning.  Remember, ANY exercise is beneficial!

Nutritional supplements can also aid in overall health and happiness. When I take my daily supplements, I notice that I just feel healthier. And most of us that feel healthier are happier. For many people I recommend a daily multivitamin and vitamin D. For those who do not have a large dairy intake or source of calcium, I also recommend a calcium supplement. Multivitamins are also a great way to get what you need. I have taken the 21st Century brand of multivitamins for many years, which are available at CHI Health retail pharmacies. Vitamin D is another supplement that I recommend to most people. Many of us are actually deficient in Vitamin D. A simple blood test is used to determine whether or not you are deficient; your health care provider can help with that. I recommend 1000 to 2000 international units of vitamin D daily. The importance of vitamin D lies in its role in absorption of calcium, which helps build healthy and strong bones. Studies suggest that vitamin D may also help prevent certain types of cancer, helps prevent other disease states such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and may also improve cognitive function. Sunlight is also a great way to boost vitamin D. Due to our current lifestyles, and with changes in seasons, we receive minimal sun exposure, so get outside when you are able. Lastly, you can boost your vitamin D levels from foods that have a high content of it which include swordfish, salmon, orange juice with vitamin D, and milk with Vitamin D. If you have further questions, visit a CHI Health Pharmacy location to discuss supplements with your friendly pharmacist. 

Start your year out healthier and happier when you decide to add in one or more of these stress-relieving goals. You’ll be GRATEFUL you did! I am grateful that you read this. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2019!

Julie Vollmuth, PharmD

Julie is a Pharmacist with CHI Health.

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