Are you enjoying a long weekend for Labor Day? I hope so! We debated going out of town for the weekend, but ended up staying in Dallas, mainly because a weekend full of no plans sounded SO good … and it is! Every once in a while, I think we all need a few days to decompress and kick stress to the curb. (picture source)
Whether it’s work, family, major life decisions, health, or anything else, almost all of us lead stressful lives, and many of us aren’t great at managing its impact on our bodies. You’ve probably heard that too much stress is “bad for you,” but have you ever wondered why, or thought about whether you are dealing with too much stress yourself?
- When your body is stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol as part of its “fight or flight” response. Cortisol immediately raises your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and if you are chronically stressed, these effects can build up over time.
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism recently reported results of a study that found study participants in the highest quarter of cortisol levels had three times the risk of heart disease and diabetes as those in the lowest quarter of cortisol levels.
- A Spanish study showed that those who had a stressful year faced four times the risk of having a stroke compared to those who didn’t have a stressful year (incidentally, having a Type A personality, and smoking, also increased the risk of stroke).
- Stress also contributes to belly fat – cortisol increases your appetite and causes fat storage around your abdomen … bummer!
So what am I doing this weekend to kick stress to the curb? Here are 7 things I’m doing … I hope you’re finding some things that relax YOU as well!
- Sleep. Like I’ve said a few times now, you can’t “catch up” on sleep, but getting a good night’s sleep sure does make you feel amazing, doesn’t it? For me, getting a good night’s sleep reduces stress and helps me put my “troubles” into perspective.
- Cook. I’m not the best cook in the world by any means, but I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, and I love taking the time to prepare delicious and healthy food. It makes me feel like my life is in balance (especially since I don’t get to cook during the week), relaxes me, and helps me improve! This weekend, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of recipes from other bloggers, and it’s been fun!
- Exercise. I’m sure this one isn’t shocking to you! I’ve talked several times about how exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, and it sure does that for me. I’ve been running, of course, but I also did an interval workout and a few Barre3 videos. I’ve been thinking about creating a new page on the blog that logs my daily workouts as several other bloggers do, so let me know if you’re interested.
- Garden. I tried to plant a rooftop for the first time back in May, and the Texas heat got the most of it (but the basil rocked!). Even though it still seems scorchingly hot in Dallas, several online tools told me that this was the weekend to re-plant for fall vegetables, so plant I did! Fingers crossed for some more success :).
- Spend time with those you care about most. Even though shopping isn’t my favorite activity (I know, who am I?), I love spending time with my family, so as soon as I hit “post” on this, I’m headed out to shop the Labor Day sales with my mom! I feel so lucky to live close to family. I’ve also spent a lot of time with Kevin – we don’t get to see each other during the week, so the weekends are full of quality time together. We’re both introverts, so most of the time that involves us hanging around the house, having a few drinks, cooking, watching some of our favorite TV shows, and generally just enjoying each other’s company. We may have even experimented with a random Buzzfeed hack last night … ice cream toppings will never be the same. (By the way, on Instagram, I tagged this as #nothealthyliving, but I think this is the definition of healthy living … you have to live a little sometimes!)
- Go to the Farmer’s Market. This is one of my favorite activities EVER. You just can’t beat walking around looking at gorgeous produce, talking to the farmers who grew it, and of course having a few tastes! I bought way more than we needed, but it’s all delicious!
- Disconnect. I’m not the best at this – I’m constantly multi-tasking and using technology, but this weekend I’m trying to disconnect a little bit more than usual. On this note, I’m probably going to skip tomorrow’s Motivation Monday post, but you can be sure there will be a motivational bit on The Lyons’ Share Facebook page, so check it out if you’re lacking in motivation!
So tell me in the comments … what are YOU doing this weekend to kick stress to the curb?