Do it now, part deux!

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(Tree is decorated, that’s about it!)

Is anyone less stressed this week? I hope you are, but I am honestly just as stressed this week as I was the last time I posted. I’m still buying some last minute gifts, nothing is wrapped, I haven’t baked anything, and many plans are still up in the air for the holidays. All of this makes me crazier than usual. Last post I wrote about some things you can do to relieve stress like taking a relaxing bath, listening to music, drinking a glass of wine and cuddling with a loved one. I’ve got a few more stress relievers for you, and I sincerely hope they help you (and me!) through this last push before Christmas.

  (Post walk exhaustion!) 

1. Take a walk- This sounds so obvious and I’ve discussed many times in past posts how good for you walking is, but more so when you’re stressed. Lately I haven’t had time to walk my dogs as regularly as I usually do, and we are all suffering for the absence of our outdoor time. The last few days I’ve forced our walk time back in and I feel better, and I’m sure my dogs do too. The walks have been shorter than they used to be, 15 minutes versus 30, but it’s better than nothing for all of us, and it makes me feel better mentally that I took the time to do it so that’s a double bonus! 

  
(Great, quick meditations in a booklet our church provides for us each Advent season. Perfect for a fast bit of morning prayer and reflection.)

2. Prayer time/meditation time/quiet time- whatever you call it, this is something really important to me, and unfortunately something that is so tempting to cut out when time gets tight. These last few days I’ve made sure I put my prayer time back on my morning agenda, and I’ve felt a lot better because of it. I won’t be excluding it in the future. 

  
3. Cry- this seems strange to be included and it’s not something I’m very good at, but there’s something so cathartic about a good cry. I don’t cry very often at all but when I do it makes me feel better. Here’s why, emotional tears, you know the kind you produce when sad (or happy), have ACTH in them which is known to be present in the body during times of increased stress. ACTH is present in our tears because our tears help wash away some of it, and that’s why we feel less stressed after we cry. Pretty cool, huh?!! I am going to work on crying more often than once a decade and see if it helps!

  
(Some of my favorite people to chat with, home for Christmas!)

4. Talking/venting- this one is very helpful for me. Everything starts to build up and sometime the only thing that makes me feel better is to talk/ vent (rant!) to a caring person in my life, usually my sister, my mom, my roommate from college or my daughters. I am BLESSED to have these loving ladies to listen and care about me. Having an emotional connection with someone is critical for our psychological wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown that people with close friends are less likely to commit suicide, more likely to survive cancer, have lower heart disease risk and actually live longer than people with few or no close friends. When women are stressed they produce oxytocin which causes us to “tend and befriend”, this actually encourages us to turn to our friends, and then the act of chatting causes us to produce even more oxytocin, which in turn calms us. Wow that’s complicated but I really like it!

So there you have it! Four more ways to reduce your stress, not just during the holiday season but at any stressful times in your life, which are numerous, aren’t they?!! I wish all of you a stress-less Christmas and worry free new year. Walking, praying, crying and venting will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

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