Beating stress is a topic that gets covered regularly in women’s magazines–and for good reason. Most of us grapple with it at some point in the day. Whether juggling projects at work, fighting traffic on the road or trying to keep everyone happy at home, it’s easy to get overtaken by the stress monster. Like most women, I welcome any advice on how to tame it!
In March, two women’s magazines tackled the topic of stress. Ladies’ Home Journal magazine featured an article titled “Life Is Good… Don’t Miss It!” with tips on how to enjoy the blessings of the moment, while Woman’s Day magazine focused on the health side of the subject in its “Stress Less” article. Their timing is perfect. According to a recent American Psychological Association poll, Americans are more stressed out than ever. In fact, more than 80 percent of the women who were surveyed reported prolonged stress over money and the economy.
Both articles offered helpful insight and information, but as someone with tunnel vision who struggles with multitasking, I related to the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine story the most. What hooked me? Journalist Catherine Newman’s first-person description of a typical morning: Sitting at her computer, so engrossed in her virtual world that she hardly notices what’s happening in her real world–and nearly misses the chance to say goodbye to her husband as he leaves for work. As she notes, we get so busy “making connections constantly that we don’t realize how disconnected we’ve become.”
Newman focuses on the principle of “mindfulness,” a Buddhist philosophy gaining popularity among doctors and therapists that teaches the joys of living in the present and keeping your eyes on the here and now. Using this as a stress-fighting weapon can lead to steadier moods, increased immune function, higher pain tolerance and improved memory and concentration in those pressure-cooker moments in life, according to clinical psychologists quoted in the article. In fact, some even recommend it over anti-anxiety medication.
So how does one learn to be mindful? The article offers a seven-step plan, encompassing everything from tangible tips like slowing down, taking deep breaths and unplugging, to secrets on how to master the more elusive stuff: living with a sense of gratitude, setting the right priorities, keeping things in perspective and doing less while getting more done.
For readers who struggle with the physical manifestations of stress (tension headaches, stomach aches and insomnia, to name a few), the “Stress Less” article in Woman’s Day magazine breaks down the effects of stress on the body and offers tips for fighting both short-term and long-term stress. It even includes yoga moves to help you mellow out! My favorite part of the article was learning about the five foods that fight stress–dark chocolate, skim milk, oatmeal, salmon and walnuts. Who knew that my addiction to Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars could turn out to be a good thing?