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Get Lost and Get over it: How to Manage Stress and Improve your Health

bernie salazar and rebecca scritchfieldThis guest blog comes from Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, ACSM HFS, a Washington, D.C. based dietitian and weight management expert. Together with Bernie Salazar, at-home winner of The Biggest Loser, she co-created “The Nurture Principles” – Five mantras to help people change their lives and find wellness within.

It’s no secret. We are all stressed out, whether it’s lack of personal time, work pressures, or life issues like the economy. There is no shortage of things to wig us out these days. While a little stress can be a good thing, too much can put your life out of balance. Work seems unmanageable, you can’t remember the last time you cooked a meal for your family, and your dumbbells are better utilized as paperweights to keep your stack of mail in place because you’re not even thinking about a workout. (Whew. That’s exhausting!)

So how do you get back some control? First you need to realize that everything is connected. You actually feel stress in your body in several ways – lumpy throat, sore neck and shoulders, and speeding heart rate. Excessive stress pushes cortisol through your veins, which is connected to cravings for high fat or high sugar comfort foods as well as decreased muscle tissue and suppressed thyroid function. When you’re stressed out, exercise can help relax you by unleashing endorphins, which increase pleasure and have a calming effect on the body. But your brain tells you that you need to spend extra time working or cleaning the house so you ditch the idea of a workout in favor of other “more important” tasks that you actually can’t do efficiently because you need a break!stressed woman

The good news is you can break this crazy cycle. But you have to stop. You have to “get lost” to get over your stress. No matter how time-crunched you feel, you have at least a minute or two. Rather than double-check your Blackberry or Tweet your 20, why don’t you just take in a big breath of air and let it all out. Close your eyes. Think of a place and time that brings you comfort and happiness. Remember your most relaxing day. Keep breathing deep and slow and let your mind wander. You will instantly start to feel a nurturing release. Your mind and body have a chance to realign. Maybe it will be enough to help you deal with the rest of the day. Try it. What have you got to lose – except your mind!

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June 21st, 2009

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