This beginning of a new year will bring lots of resolutions, and the stress of keeping them up along with it.
Dr. Megan Hood, a clinical psychologist with an expertise in stress management at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, says trying to attain a more stress-free existence is a pretty popular goal around the holidays and the new year.
But staying away from stress is not as simple as making a New Year’s Eve wish.
“That tends to be a common goal, a nice broad goal,” Hood said. “But it also tends to be challenging.”
Still, Hood has some tips to keep stress at bay.
- Enjoy the moment. Don’t always rush ahead to the next thing, Hood cautions. Take a second to just enjoy the small things in life: a catchy song playing, a nice smell or something positive going on around you.
- Plan ahead — when you can. Having plans and maintaining schedules is a good thing, but make your goals manageable and realistic, and don’t worry about anything out of your control, Hood says.
- Be active. Plan an activity with your family that doesn’t involve vegging out on the couch, Hood advises. Spend some time at Barrow County's Fort Yargo State Park, Winder's Victor Lord Park or James Shackelford Memorial Park in Auburn. You can also find fitness classes in the Barrow Patch events calendar.
- Have healthy snacks available. In accordance with your overall health, be sure to eat foods that are good for you, especially after splurging on holiday food.
- Do something that makes you feel good. The holidays involve giving gifts to others, but don’t forget about yourself when they are over. Hood recommends participating in whatever brings a smile to your face, whatever you enjoy, especially social groups or activities. Interested in music lessons? Check out . Paint your own pottery at Mudpatch Creations. Take an art workshop or class at the Georgia Piedmont Arts Center. You can also get involved in performing arts at the Winder-Barrow Community Theatre.
- Volunteer. Helping people helps us feel positive and better about ourselves, Hood says. Check with the following local nonprofits to see what you can do to help: Leftover Pets, Barrow County Habitat for Humanity, Angels with Faith Ministries, The Tree House, The Light Community Outreach and Resource Center, Barrow County Family Connection/Communities In Schools, Peace Place and Piedmont Rape Crisis Center.
- Take deep, short breaths. Don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing. When you trick your body into relaxing, the mind and the thoughts follow, Hood explains.
- Expect the best. Always be positive, Hood adds. If you intentionally expect good things and good results, you’ll probably get them.
How do you de-stress? Are you resolving to stress less in 2013? Have suggestions for your fellow Barrow Patch users? Tell us in comments.