Lighten Up!

TraceyIn today’s fast paced-world, it is far too easy to become overextended and overstressed. Here are some simple ways even a stress ball like me can lighten up.

  • Relax.Take off your shoes, and walk in the grass. Take a deep breath, and stretch. Sip on a glass of wine.
  • Play a game. Whether it’s a game of Cards Against Humanity, Trivial Pursuit, or Pinochle, invite some friends over and have some fun.
  • Do something that takes your breath away. Cross something off your bucket list.
  • Create something. Paint a picture, make a piece of jewelry, or knit a scarf. I recently bought some coloring books that have taken me back to my childhood roots.
  • Explore.Take your bike on a new excursion, or hike a trail you’ve never taken before.
  • Be silly. Do something out of character, or play a harmless joke on a friend or a family member.
  • Take a picture. Try a new perspective.
  • Laugh.Pick a movie that will make you laugh and enjoy it with family, friend, or by yourself.
  • Play with your kids. Get down to their level and act like a carefree kid again.

Remember these tips the next time this crazy life has you stressed to the max. For more tips on how to reduce stress, check out these Wellness Toolkits.

Want to stress less, cheer for a university, and support a local charity—all at the same time? Make a pledge to stress less, and join the PacificSource Healthy Life Fan Challenge.

Stressed? Try a Good Laugh

Women with dog walking in a park

Hopefully your April Fool’s Day was full of good humor as it kicked off National Humor Month!  The joyful sound of laughter is far more contagious than a cold.  Laughter brings people together and increases happiness across the board.  Laughter and humor are a powerful cure-all to stress and pain; they help you focus on the joy of life rather than its burdens.

Who doesn’t feel better after watching a funny movie, laughing with a friend or going to a comedy club?  With so much power to help heal us, Patch Adams had the right idea – laughter is sometimes the best medicine!

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress.  It can even leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after you’re done laughing. It will also increase your energy and help you stay focused.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter helps to take away the stress hormones and gives you more immune cells and infection fighting antibodies which all help to improve your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural feel-good chemicals that promote an overall sense of well-being. They can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter helps protect the heart. Laughing increases blood flow which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Laughter helps lessen stressful emotions. You can’t feel sad, angry, or anxious when you’re too busy laughing.
  • Humor shifts perspective. Who hasn’t had an experience when, at the time, it seems like the end of the world – yet days later, when you tell the story, you can’t help but laugh at what happened?  A humorous perspective will help you not feel overwhelmed.  Next time you feel like your world is ending, shift your perspective and see how you feel.

When you are faced with stress or difficulties, a laugh – or even just a smile – can go a long way to making you feel better.  Here are 30 more ways you can add humor into your life.

Is it time to seek help? If depression is affecting your relationships, your daily activities, or how you think and feel, it’s time to consider seeking help. For more information, read Telltale Signs It’s Time to Treat Your Depression, by Margarita Tratakovsky, M.S.

Yoga: My Lunchtime Escape

Photo courtesy of MiiiSH

Photo courtesy of MiiiSH

Stress management and work don’t usually go hand-in-hand. But to maintain a healthy lifestyle, finding ways to relax during the “daily grind” is vital. One of our employees in Portland, Michelle, gave us a great guest blog post about how she’s using yoga to take a breather in the middle of the day. In her own words, here’s Michelle’s yoga story:

Scrambling to answer a ceaseless ringing phone, speed-reading through emails and shuffling through mounds of mail; it makes even the most devoted employees day-dream about an afternoon soaking up the sun on a warm beach (Piña colada in hand, of course). Unfortunately for me, all I see when I steal a glance out of our office window is a menacing grey sky, complete with sideways blowing rain. That’s a devastating contrast from my Malibu beach day fantasy. But this week, just as I was about to clock out for my regular lunch time ritual of adding hot water to my cup of “Suddenly Soup” and hunching over an old copy of the Portland Business Journal, a calendar invite popped up for “Group Yoga” in the training room.

Meet Michelle, our first time yoga-ing guest blogger.

Meet Michelle, our first time yogi and guest blogger.

As if kicking off the high heels and slipping into stretchable pants wasn’t rewarding enough, I walked into a warm oasis that awaited me in the heart of India training room. Our yoga instructor, or as I like to refer to her, “Tour Guide through Nirvana,” greeted us with a welcoming smile. The unfamiliar, yet tranquil sounds of yogi tunes were peacefully playing in the background while I found my way to my destined yoga mat, which would serve as my lunch time escape.

For the next hour, my mind focused on flowing through the practice with as much pace, rhythm and structure as my uncoordinated body could handle. Most importantly, my mind was NOT focused on work. Deep synchronized breathing replaced desperate panting from schlepping huge boxes and endless phone calls. My wrists (that are usually cramped from furious typing) were now lucid in holding a downward dog. Most importantly my mind got a mental vacation while I journeyed through an entire hour of zen.

For the next month, momentarily putting work OFF and getting my “chi ON” will become my weekly routine. Luckily, I’m pretty flexible, so I was able to twist into a few bound half-moon poses. But if I’m being honest, my yoga talents were really showcased during the Happy Baby Pose, Corpse Pose, and my personal favorite, Shavasana: see nap time. 

If you have a Hawaiian vacation on the books, that’s probably the best option for relaxation. But for the rest of us, lunchtime yoga is definitely (a very close) second best option!