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Tag Archive for: stress

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Top 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

December is, legitimately, the most stressful month of the year. Shopping and presents, food preparation, cards, socializing, crowds, different schedules and routines, decorations, spending, pressure to buy the right thing for the right person – and not forgetting anyone.

I wanted to offer some practical suggestions to reduce stress and help you enjoy the holiday season this year.  Here are Julie’s TOP 10 TIPS based on my own experiences as a busy mom, but also as an occupational therapist who often helps people to break down tasks into more manageable, and less stressful chunks:

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Overcome Emotional Eating

March is Nutrition Month and to celebrate our Food for Thought series will focus on some of the main factors that influence what we eat. Stress is an often overlooked piece of our health, yet it can be very damaging as it effects our bodies both physically and mentally. Specifically related to food, many often “stress eat” as they turn to food as a coping mechanism.  The following from The Dietitians of Canada discusses how to overcome emotional eating and suggests some healthy alternatives.

The Dietitians of Canada Fact Sheet:  Eating and Stress– Help! I eat when I’m stressed!

If you’re struggling with stress take a look at our article, How Stress is Affecting Your Health, for additional assistance.

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The Link Between Stress and Heart Disease

Stress can negatively affect many aspects of your physical and emotional health including your heart.  In recent years, more attention has been paid to reducing stress to help prevent heart disease.  The following from Forbes Magazine discusses two new studies that have uncovered more information about the connection between stress and heart disease.  Read the article to learn more and check out our post, How Stress is Affecting Your Health, for solutions to reduce stress.

Forbes:  The Link Between Stress And Heart Disease May Lie In The Brain

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Holiday Season Survival Guide

December is, legitimately, the most stressful month of the year. Shopping and presents, food preparation, cards, socializing, crowds, different schedules and routines, decorations, spending, pressure to buy the right thing for the right person – and not forgetting anyone.

Instead of harping on all the reasons I struggle this time of year, I am going to be productive and offer some practical suggestions for people that also have issues getting through to January. Here are Julie’s TOP 10 TIPS based on my own experiences as a busy mom, but also as an occupational therapist who often helps people to break down tasks into more manageable, and less stressful chunks:

holiday-survival-guide

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Stress Management Tool

In our post from earlier this week, How Stress is Affecting Your Health, we discussed an important and often overlooked piece of the health puzzle:  stress.  Though some stress is natural and can actually be helpful, when too much stress begins to affect you on a daily basis it can become damaging to your health.

Use our following FREE printable worksheet to help you identify stressors, your reactions and to come up with solutions to help you cope.

stress-management-worksheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools for children and adults please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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How Stress is Affecting Your Health

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

We know that exercise, sleep and healthy eating are the three most prominent predictors of health.  But in exploring my own health issues of recent, I was reminded of another important key to this puzzle:  stress.  So, I put together my own simple health formula:

Eat well + exercise + sleep – stress = health.

Complicated, I know, but the impact of stress cannot be overemphasized:

In 2013, Statistics Canada reported that 23.0% (6.6 million) of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’, unchanged from 2012.  Females report slightly more stress than males, at 24.6%, to 21.3%, respectively.  That is a lot of stress.

While we know that some stress is good (“eustress”) and causes us to “up our game” and become better, stronger or more resilient, most is bad (“distress”) and can lead to a multitude of health problems including headaches, stomach issues, blood pressure increases, heart problems, diet and sleep disorders.  Further, often stress can resort to poor coping through alcohol and drugs, leading to even bigger issues (WebMD).

Honestly, I get it.  Stress is everywhere.  I feel stress as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as an in-law, as a sister, as an entrepreneur, a health professional, business partner, boss, pet-owner, neighbor, friend and honestly a human-being (did Trump really get elected?).  Managing this stress to the point of having a suitable deductible from my health equation is an important priority. 

So how does occupational therapy help?  Well, knowing that stress is a predictor of health, and that it is hard to rehabilitate people who are acutely and chronically stressed, focusing on stress-reducing strategies is one of the key foundations of helping people to function better.  Of course, the nature of the stress-reducing strategy will depend on the person, and how they rate and identify their main stressors.  However, typically occupational therapists help people to manage stress both actively and passively. 

Actively, we want people to identify their stress, work to reduce or eliminate this if possible, and start aligning their time with stress-reducing activities.  Meditation, relaxation exercises, deep breathing, scheduled breaks at work, exercise (even if mild), improved sleep, and changing roles at home or work can start moving stress along the continuum from problematic to manageable.

Passively, there are ways to avoid stress once the triggers are identified.  Proper planning of activities and events, avoidance of stressful situations or people, learning to say “no”, setting boundaries, and having a routine that does not allow stress to move in and start sleeping on your couch can prove helpful.

Ironically, exercise, sleep and eating well work to reduce stress as well, so if you can heavily weight the first half of my untested equation, you can still move things into the health stratosphere.  Parents need to remember too that kids also feel stress (school, sports, worries about this or that) so monitoring their stress is also important because they may lack the skills to identify or manage this themselves.  Play, games, sports, free time, adequate sleep, not taking school too seriously, and creative non-tech outlets are other strategies to help kids (and adults) de-stress and add deposits into their healthy bank account.

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Is Stress Affecting Your Kids?

Hockey tryouts, swimming lessons, dance classes, music lessons, and don’t forget about school.  That’s right… it’s September!  Previously on our blog we coined the term “Stress-tember” –  as September is second only to December on the list of the most stressful months of the year.  Why?  Change, adjustment, new routines and… it’s busy!  While it’s important to have kids involved in a variety of extracurricular activities, sometimes they can become over-scheduled which can cause stress.  Check out the following from WebMd to help you recognize the signs of stress in children and take a look at our previous post “Are Our Kids too Busy?” to help you create a good balance.

WebMD:  10 Reasons Your Child Might Be Stressed

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Colour Yourself Happy!

Mindfulness colouring books are a huge trend right now and have been named in the top 10 gifts to give this holiday season.  But do they actually work to reduce stress?  Many believe yes.  Although experts are quick to dismiss adult colouring as a form of art therapy or mindfulness practice, this type of colouring has been proven to provide a form of relaxation without the need for any complex skills.  Check out the following from Discovery on the adult colouring book trend and try one today.

Discovery:  Colouring Books Help Adults Relax Too