By Tracy Skaer, WSU College of Pharmacy
There are two categories of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is the beneficial type that helps motivate our lives and keep us happy, connected, active, challenged, motivated and productive. However, when stress becomes intolerable and/or manageable then detrimental distress becomes apparent. Distress leads to several negative outcomes including poor decision making, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, increases in blood pressure, indigestion, hyperventilation, reduced or increased appetite, substance abuse, and poor coping skills.
The demands of today’s society have significantly increased our risk for experiencing distress. It is incumbent upon all of us to find ways to manage stress in order to improve health and create a positive balance in our lives.
Important tips to reducing stress:
– Take care of yourself and maintain a healthy body. This includes getting adequate amounts of rest and regular exercise. Power napping (10 to 15 minutes) in the afternoon has been shown to reduce stress and boost productivity. Regular exercise involves movement, triggers blood flow and deep breathing which are important biological actions to naturally ease stress and promote improved health and overall well-being.
– Maintain a healthy diet through intake of nutrient rich foods. Stay hydrated by drinking more water. Focus on high protein foods such as tofu, yogurt, eggs, salmon, shellfish, tuna, lean red meat, chicken/turkey breast, and protein shakes. Reduce carbohydrates and add whole grains, low saturated fats (e.g. raw oils, nuts, seeds, avocado), healthy snacks, fruits and green vegetables.
– Adopt a more stress-less mindset by letting go of judgement and negative thought patterns, becoming more mindful and optimistic. Use affirmations (positive words and phrases you say and repeat to yourself on a regular basis), meditation, and visualizations to boost mood and emotional control. Release those bitter feelings towards yourself or others through forgiveness.
– Don’t forget to laugh and do it often. Laughter instantaneously reduces stress. It’s OK to fake laughter because it works too. LOL!
– Seek massage therapy and acupuncture to improve sleep as well as reduce stress, pain, and tension.
So take charge! Get out and walk with coworkers as a break during the work day. Participate in a yoga, exercise and mindfulness classes offered on campus. Walk or ride your bike to work. Eat a healthy lunch away from your desk. Enjoy a mid-day power nap. Listen to relaxing music while you work. Complete a 5-minute breathing exercise a few times each day.
Upcoming event: Please join Tracy L. Skaer, Matthew Layton, and Kari Hilgendorf for a panel discussion on stress management on Feb. 24 from 12:10 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Eastern Washington University Center auditorium (formerly the Phase I building).
Tracy Skaer also hosts mindfulness classes on campus:
1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Join Professor Tracy Skaer for 30 minutes of mindfulness. Bring a mat to sit on.
- Tuesdays from 12:10 – 12:40 p.m.
- SAC, Room 345
- March 1st – April 19th