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Mental Health Break!

Fort HealthCare Fort HealthCare October 8, 2014 0 Comments General Health

10/6/14

October! Woohoo!

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but there are some days I come home from work and just sit in silence, thinking about how much of a whirlwind my life is and trying to recap everything I did during my day. Usually, the recap is a fail and I end up continuing my evening with Food Network re-runs before bed to start all over again the next day.

Yesterday, while perusing Facebook during a commercial break of the show “Chopped”, I came across a Fort HealthCare post about this week being “National Mental Health Week”. After a good laugh about the irony with my life, I started to think about the significance of the week and how most people could likely use a ‘break’ from life or at least incorporate some stress management or ‘YOU’ time into the daily routine.

If you’re like me, you find that the majority of your day is dedicated to those around you—whether it’s work, boss, or clients, children, a significant other, a team you coach, sports or extra- curricular schedules, laundry (resounding theme, huh?!), or your parents. All of that is great, but without your own health and mind in tip-top shape, you aren’t going to be as much help to those around you. Where does the ‘you’ time fit in? Where is your downtime to relax and take a mental break?

Those who know me know I don’t sit well and I am constantly ‘go-go-go’. I have had to learn to pencil-in time that is dedicated to me and to make sure I stick with it. Stress is one of those things that if left uncontrolled can take a detrimental toll on your body and cause health issues that can haunt you. I take that thought seriously and make a conscious effort to make time daily for myself even though my days are scheduled to the max.

One of the newest changes I have made is adding a 15-minute lunchtime walk to my daily routine. I have it penciled into my calendar and I keep shoes in my office so there is no excuse not to go. Just being able to step away from my desk for 15 minutes is enough to clear my mind and ultimately bump up my productivity in the afternoon when it’s easy to sllllllllooooooooow down.

I always have a few-minute window between my hospital job and swim team in the afternoon that I utilize to call my best friend Laura.  It’s our way to catch up, but also to vent if I have anything that I need to get off my chest. I almost instantly feel better after getting off the phone with her and look forward to this daily.

The other ‘habit’ I have is always stretching in the morning. There are some mornings that I go for a run and the stretching happens after naturally, but the days I don’t run, I like to take a few minutes to sit in the quiet and do light stretching. Yes, this is sometimes my opportunity to play catch-up on Facebook and Twitter to see how my cool friends spent their evenings while I was in bed, but I still consider it ‘me’ time.

All of the little ‘stress management’ things start to add up. They help me feel like I am in control of at least some part of my day and that I am doing something for me.

Now, my suggestions may not be for everyone, but you have to be proactive in thinking about what YOU can do during your day to give yourself a bit of stress management and keep you the healthiest and happiest you can be.

Since this is a PG-rated blog, I won’t be suggesting engaging in building Bloody Marys in the morning or anything too crazy in the name of stress management, but I think it’s important to note that there are healthier ways to de-stress and make time for you.

Here’s a quick suggestion list of what you can do for a bit of ‘YOU’ time:

  1. Exercise. One of my favorite things in the entire world! Take a few minutes daily to walk or run or join a group fitness class. Bonus: Weight management, stronger cardiovascular system, increased muscular strength and bone structure.  BONUS BONUS: Social boost. Get some friends together for a walk or fitness class—laughing and fun ((almost)) guaranteed!
  2. Take 5 minutes. Take 5 minutes to breathe and move away from the computer or stressful situation. Most of the time, the reason your stressed is the way you’re perceiving the person or thing that’s stressing you out. Think more positively and stress could be kept under better control. Makes sense. Dr. Mike on YouTube gives this take on stress HERE.
  3. Stretch. You can stretch just about anywhere. Stretching helps to relieve tension in muscles and can restore blood flow in an area that hasn’t been moved in awhile. Plus, it just feels good!
  4. Bubble bath/Shower. Take time to pamper yourself with a long bath or shower. Bonus points for lighting a soothing candle!
  5. Laugh.  There’s a long-standing joke with one of my friends about certain YouTube videos we watch when we are stressed, but we know they are guaranteed to make us feel better. Watch parts of your favorite funny movie or talk to a friend/coworker that can make you laugh.
  6. Schedule ‘no appointment’ time. Specifically set aside time that you can do an activity or relax and do ‘nothing’. Honor that time as your own and don’t break it!
  7. Stay in touch with friends. Call a friend or family member or send an email to catch up with them.
  8. Read. I LOVE reading and try to do it every evening. Pick up a good book, newspaper, or blog (hey, hey!) and take time daily to read and give yourself that free time.
  9. Schedule friend/family time. Once a month, my friends and I try and schedule a “girl’s night” that we all bring a dish to pass and hang out together. It is one of my most favorite events of the month and I look forward to the relaxation and just hanging out.
  10. Go to a movie, the mall, coffee shop, etc. Take time to go to your favorite hangout and enjoy being away for a bit. I’m a bit of a weirdo and enjoy going to the movies by myself, but it’s one of my favorite ‘me’ time activities….and no one steals my popcorn!

Taking time for yourself is vital for your health and keeps stress at bay. Start small and try something for YOU today!

Later!