Regardless of your age, marital or socioeconomic status, at one time or another, you will experience stress and anxiety. Each changing season produces different stressors. Summertime has the pendulum swinging from how to keep children from fighting and saying they are bored to keeping them free from sunburns to an upcoming move to a new neighborhood. The body’s initial reaction to stress is fight or flight. Symptoms of excess stress include feeling mentally and physically exhausted, problems sleeping, tension headaches, bowel disturbances, a lowered immune system, and irritability.
Here are five tips to control summertime chaos:
1. Laugh. You have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. Research shows that laughing produces endorphins which cause you to relax, experience joy, and ease pain. When feeling stressed picking up the telephone and speaking with a friend can often bring a smile to your face that will aid in producing the feel good endorphins. Also, turning on the television and watching your favorite sitcom can aid in reducing stress and anxiety.
2. Evaluate your diet. Limit caffeinated products because caffeine is a stimulant. Alcohol consumption should also be restricted since alcohol is a depressant. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables over commercially processed items. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables are easier for your body to digest than commercially processed foods such as cookies and chips. However, there is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging your chocolate craving.
3. Exercise. Engaging in exercise is another way for your body to produce endorphins. Taking time for a walk after dinner or meeting a friend for a game of racquetball can raise your level of feel good endorphins while getting you in shape physically and mentally.
4. Have a MAP (Master Action Plan). When you stop to think about what is causing anxiety such as an upcoming move or the absence of a spouse during a deployment you can develop strategies to cope with the stress. Creating a step by step plan on how to walk through the action will allow you to empower yourself by taking charge of the situation. If you are experiencing stress on how to keep the children entertained during summer vacation you can develop a daily schedule so that the child knows what to expect throughout the day; children thrive on routine. Having a Plan A is great but having Plan B and Plan C will ensure you have covered whatever may be thrown at you with minimal disruption.
5. Increase Productivity. Productivity creates an atmosphere of positive change and is more fruitful than worrying and doing nothing.
It is impossible to ignore or reduce all stressors from our lives. However, when you are able to recognize your limits of stress and know how to use practical strategies to reduce stress you will control summertime chaos. Therefore, laugh and exercise to raise your endorphin level. Be productive and design your MAP to navigate stressful situations. Lastly, don’t forget to occasionally indulge your chocolate craving and enjoy your summer.