Deep Breath… De-stress!

Imagine yourself climbing into your car....

You start the engine, and you point the front end down the road and away from home. Traffic is busy. You feel a slight tension creep into your arms and shoulders as you hold the steering wheel just a bit tighter. Your breathing accelerates slightly. You can feel your heart. Subtly, your pupils dilate, and your mouth becomes drier as you become aware of cars zooming by your window. What in the world is happening…?

You are experiencing the physical manifestations of stress.

Why DO we stress?

You might be thinking, “Well… stress isn’t all that bad because it allows me to manage Denver traffic...” If so, then you are correct! Stress does allow us to react and adapt to new and changing environments. In fact, without the stress response we couldn’t survive. However, it is actually the duration and frequency of this adaptive state that is more relevant to our health. Serious physical breakdown and injury occur with repeated or longstanding insults rather than only with the experience of a few stressful situations.

Research by the Mayo Clinic has shown that people who are chronically under stress are at higher risk of developing conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, GI issues, sleep problems, obesity, depression, accelerated aging, diabetes.... and many more. Indeed, that sense of relief we feel after a stressful situation is useful in reminding us that too much stress may not be such a good idea after all.

Taking the Kettle Off of the Stove

Stress is potentially present throughout our lives. So… to make sure you don’t lose your luster over time, consider these recommendations by the Cleveland Clinic on how to reduce stress levels:

  1. It's okay to say "no”. Let folks know when an activity is more than you can handle.

  2. Stop smoking. Nicotine acts as a stimulant and increases stress symptoms.

  3. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation (less than 1-2 drinks per day).

  4. Exercise regularly. Choose non-competitive exercise and set reasonable goals.

  5. Chill. Learn about and try relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation.

  6. Just let it go. Control what you can and leave behind what you cannot control.

  7. Ask for help when needed. We all can use a hand now and then.

  8. Set priorities but pace yourself. Take time out for yourself.

  9. Examine your values and live by them. Then use your values when choosing your activities.

  10. Nurture a healthy sense of self-esteem. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well.

Putting Things in Perspective

Great relationships are absolutely critical to overall good health. And, as we enjoy our friends and spend time at social gatherings, it’s important to remember not to sweat the small stuff. And… the truth is, the small stuff includes just about everything. Rather, take these special moments to focus on the beauty and wonder around you, celebrate the times of your life, and enjoy the very best that friends and family have to offer. Every thought and each interaction truly hold the potential for joy. We wish you an amazing life!

Be well and take good care.

Cleveland Clinic. Stress: 10 ways to ease stress.

Mayo Clinic. (2019). Healthy lifestyle: Stress management. Retrieved from