You should be doing these things right now!

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Hello, friends! Tis the season to be… Stressed out, frantically busy, exhausted, out of gas, and definitely no time to recharge the batteries. I find this time of year to be the most difficult. I feel stressed because I want to get the perfect gifts for my loved ones that reflects how much I love them, frantically busy as I decorate the house, buy the gifts, wrap them, bake cookies, plan, shop for and make the Christmas Eve meal, spend meaningful time with the kids, go out of town to visit family, and all the holiday obligations. This year it’s even more difficult because we are going through renovations on our new house. Life in the “Reno Zone” is difficult and stressful, which adds to the holiday burnout. 

My college student readers are going through similar experiences with studying for finals, writing papers, completing projects, giving presentations and finishing their semesters strong. My conclusion is that we are all STRESSED OUT these days. 

My goal with this post is to help give you ideas about how to de-stress and take care of yourself during timeframes when you have precious little time in which to do this. You can do little things that don’t take long, but will help you recharge your batteries and give you the energy to finish this year strong. I’ve got so many ideas for you that I will split it into two posts. Here we go!

  

  
 1. Take a replenishing salt bath– my new passion is bathing. There is nothing more luxurious than laying in the bathtub with the lights dim and soothing music playing. Here’s a way to take it up a notch, add bath salts, in particular pink Himalayan sea salts. Salt baths have been utilized for thousands of years as a way to detoxify the body, and salt in the bath actually ADDS moisture to your skin. Himalayan salts are also high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium and chloride which can be absorbed while in the salt bath. If buying pink Himalayan salt and adding it to your bath seems like too much work, there are ready made products out there that do the work for you. One product I like in particular is from a company called Me! Bath. They have “bath ice creams” that are all natural and contain oils, minerals, fragrances and salt, so you just have to drop one into your bath tub and get in for a nice, relaxing soak. Ahhhhh!

  
2. Glass of wine– This one works well in combination with number one, because having a glass of wine while soaking in the bath makes it even better. Wine (in moderation) is one of the healthiest ways to wind down after a long day. It contains potent antioxidants that are heart healthy and protect from many heinous diseases. Champagne is getting good press these days because it contains polyphenols that help lower blood pressure, natural trace elements that help boost your mood, and at 78 calories per 4 ounce pour it’s one of the least caloric alcoholic drinks in which you can indulge- in moderation of course. 

  
3. Listen to your favorite music– again works well in combination with the first two items on the list. Music helps you focus because it causes changes to the brain that help with attention and storing events into memory, makes you feel more cheerful due to the release of dopamine caused by listening to certain songs, and can calm you down by listening to soothing music during stressful events due to decreased cortisol levels . I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed and listened to one of my favorite playlists on my iPod which cheered me up immediately. Music can also rev you up and give you the energy you need to complete a challenging paper or project, because listening to up tempo music actually helps you use oxygen more efficiently, which can also get you through a tough workout as well. 

 LOL, Danielle took this picture of me while I was sleeping and cuddling with my Chewbacca! 
4. Cuddling with loved ones, furry and non– I’ve written about this in a previous post but think it bares repeating, physical touch, in particular hugging, is one of the best things we can do for good health. When you hug a loved one your body releases oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide which makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. Hugs can also lower blood pressure. This happens because sensory receptors on the skin trigger the vagus nerve which is responsible for lowering blood pressure among other things. Hugs can be a potent destresser because when we hug we immediately reduce the amount of stress hormone cortisol produced in our bodies, which releases tension and sends calming messages to the brain. There is nothing more soothing to me than cuddling up with my pups and loved ones. Truly one of the best things in life!

 This is a picture I took at my local nail salon that serves wine while getting a manicure or pedicure. That’s a win-win to me! 
These are some of my favorite ways to recharge during busy times. What are yours? Living a calm, stress free life is a goal I’m always striving for, it will help you live longer and healthier too. So please my friends, luxuriate in the bath, drink a glass of wine or champagne, listen to music and hug your loved ones. Doing these things will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

Do this every day for the BEST health!

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Hello my friends! I hope your fall is going well. I’ve got some good but stressful stuff going on around here. We are moving into our forever home this week and I’m exhausted from all the minutiae of moving. It will all be worth it though when we are safely tucked into our new home but now- whew, it’s crazy!

The old days, awww!

The old days, awww!

So this will be a quick post, but it’s still super important because I’m going to tell you a really easy way to live longer (and happier). Are you ready for this? It’s by giving (and receiving) hugs. This is appropriate for me right now because due to the stress of moving I’ve needed lots of hugs. My mama is on her way to me right now, and I’m sure I will get some good ones once she gets here! My significant other will be relieved that he’s off duty for a while.

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Now, you may say, “Are you serious about this? How can a hug help me live longer?” I’m going to tell you all about it right now. First, when we hug someone for 20 seconds oxytocin, known as the love hormone, is released. It gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. it is a neuropeptide, which promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding, and lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people.

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Also, hormones released in the body after a hug help your physical health by lowering blood pressure among many other things. Hugs reduce worries and fears, including fear of mortality or dying. Even brief physical touch helps people deal with their concerns.

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Your heart benefits from a hug too. In a study done by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, people who didn’t have anyone to hug had an increased heart rate compared to those who had someone to hug.

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Very old days!

As we age, hugs become even more important because loneliness, particularly as we age, can increase stress and have adverse health effects. Hugging decreases feelings of loneliness.

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Hugs are particularly effective stress relievers. When we hug we reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies immediately. Hugs also help release tension and send calming messages to our brains.

My babies hugging each other!

My babies hugging each other!

If you’re feeling stressed, hug a baby. It will be good for you as I communicated above, but it will also benefit the baby. An Emory University study in rats found a link between touch and relieving stress, particularly in the early stages of life. The researchers concluded the same applies to humans and their development.

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In conclusion, hugging is good for us in many different ways, for our hearts, blood pressure,¬†and stress levels. Hugs are super for seniors and babies, and everyone in between, so all ages can benefit from hugging. It’s free and easy to do too so why not try to give and receive more hugs? Hugging can help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!