Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stressed Society

As a Registered Dietitian in Saskatoon, I work with people to create nutrition and healthy eating habits for life. Healthy eating is only one part of creating a healthy person.

I also love working with people to develop and become better versions on their current self. Sometimes this involves food, but other times life in general or working towards various goals. I do however find that many people (clients, friends, family, myself included) have too much stress in their lives. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says: If we decide that the demands of the situation outweigh the skills we have, then we label the situation as "stressful" and react with the classic "stress response."

Of course what is stressful to me and my stress response will be unique to my life situation and my interpretation of situations. The CMHA has great tips and resources, including a Work-Life Balance Quiz. Their suggestions to help you start managing stress are:

1. Recognize your symptoms of stress
2. Look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed -- in your work situation, your family situation, or your schedule
3. Use relaxation techniques - yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or massage
4. Exercise - Physical activity is one of the most effective stress remedies around!
5. Time management - Do essential tasks and prioritize the others. Consider those who may be affected by your decisions, such as family and friends. Use a check list so you will receive satisfaction as you check off each job as it is done
6. Watch your diet - Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco all put a strain on your body's ability to cope with stress. A diet with a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and foods high in protein but low in fat will help create optimum health. Contact your local branch of the Heart
and Stroke Foundation for further information about healthy eating
7. Get enough rest and sleep
8. Talk with others - Talk with friends, professional counsellors, support groups or relatives about what is bothering you
9. Help others - Volunteer work can be an effective and satisfying stress reducer
10. Get away for awhile - Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, listen to music or go on vacation. Leave yourself some time that's just for you
11. Work off your anger - Get physically active, dig in the garden, start a project, get your spring cleaning done
12. Give in occasionally - Avoid quarrels whenever possible
13. Tackle one thing at a time - Don't try to do too much at once.
14. Don't try to be perfect
15. Ease up on criticism of others
16. Don't be too competitive
17. Make the first move to be friendly
18. Have some fun!! Laugh and be with people you enjoy!

Of course, I love that healthy eating and exercise are listed, but I also agree that I feel better mentally and physically when I`m taking care of myself with food and exercise (and sleep!). The athlete in me still struggles with the idea of being less competitive, but that`s where yoga and meditation (and long walks on the beach) fit into my life. I`m also working on realizing that I`m not perfect and I never will be, but I can still continue to strive to be that better version of myself.

Enjoy your stress-less summer day today.

Steph Wheler