Life happens. You have deadlines, bills to pay, kids, school, job, relationships, military life, all kinds of stuff happening…aahhhhh, you have STRESS.
It’s enough to make you feel absolutely awful. That’s because your emotional state has a direct impact on how you feel physically. So, if you’re stressed out you’re probably not feeling great either. Are you experiencing an uptick in cold symptoms, headaches, stomachaches? Do you feel tired all the time? Having trouble sleeping? These symptoms could be related to the level of stress in your life. Just like you take care to eat right and exercise to keep fit, it’s equally important to keep your mind and emotions in tiptop shape as well.
Most of us don’t realize that when we are both mentally and physically healthy, we are able to be more productive, healthy and happy as a result. If this sounds like something you’d like to improve upon in your own life, then here are a few simple tips to help you get there:
1. Practice Meditation
In meditation, you experience a state of restful awareness, in which your body is resting deeply while your mind gains greater awareness. This helps your stress levels go down and it makes you feel an overall sense of calm and wellness. Try relaxation techniques, yoga or even just taking some time to clear your mind.
2. Eat Right
We all know that in order to stay physically fit we should watch what we eat. But, did you know that food can also affect your mood? Eating healthy sources of protein such as eggs, chicken, fish, flaxseed, and dark green veggies can impact serotonin, a chemical that works as a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining your mood. Eating a balanced diet can help keep you physically and mentally fit.
3. Exercise Daily
Thirty minutes of daily exercise – even something as simple as walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator – can give you more energy and help you relax and sleep better. Exercise also increases those “feel-good” hormones in your brain.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Doctors say that we need about 7–9 hours of sleep each night. This helps us to maintain healthy blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels, and counters the effects of stress on our body. Energy levels after a good night’s sleep are higher, your mental awareness is more acute and you are likely to feel happier.
5. Connect with Others
Having a strong support network is probably the best thing you can do for an overall sense of wellbeing. It keeps feelings of loneliness and isolation at bay and helps us deal more effectively with stress. Having people to talk to and support you through difficult times can mean the difference between feeling well and feeling sick. Connections bring happiness and an overall sense of well-being (when they are supportive and loving connections).
6. Express Your Feelings
If feelings of stress, sadness, or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. If you feel that the problems require more than your family and friends can provide, don’t be afraid to seek help from your primary care doctor or a counselor for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.
7. Just Smile
There really is something to “fake it ‘till you make it.” Even if you’re not “feeling it,” just the act of smiling releases endorphins – a chemical in the brain that lifts your mood. Smiling slows the heart rate and relaxes the body. It also draws people to you, which adds to your support network.
8. Volunteer – Give Back
Volunteering and giving back to others can make us feel uplifted. Studies actually show that we get more joy from volunteering. So, how about devoting some time to helping others? It’s truly a win-win for everyone!
9. Say No to Alcohol and Drugs
Having a drink after work to de-stress and socialize with friends, in moderation, is definitely ok. But, when substances become a crutch or the way in which you deal with stress, then it can become a problem. At that point, it can cause more problems and add to your level of stress.
10. Make Time to Do Things You Enjoy Doing
From time to time, we need to relax, have fun, and recharge. This helps us maintain a balance between work and life. Watch a movie over the weekend, organize a get-together for your friends, go out for dinner and conversation, and take up painting or photography. Doing things that you enjoy and that bring about positive feelings help you to become a happier, healthier you!
Understanding the two-way communication going on between body and mind that affects both your physical state and your mental and emotional health is the first step towards feeling better.
Can you see a link between the mind and the body? What do you do to keep your body and mind in shape? Share your thoughts with us.Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter