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This tag is associated with 49 posts

Healthy Mommy: Me Time

Woman Lying in a Bathtub Holding a MugI frequently write about the challenges moms face in terms of getting healthy (and staying there).

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is the challenge of Me Time.

On my personal blog, I shared a little story last week: What I learned about Me Time (and about myself) when my husband and kids went out of town for three days (yes, leaving me blissfully alone in my own house for the first time in ages).

It was an interesting lesson–and not what I expected.

Also, a while ago, on my YMC blog I wrote about the issue of Me Time from the perspective of a WOHM (work-outside-the-home mom). It was a sister post to a fellow YMC blogger’s take on Me Time as a SAHM.

So, how about you? If you’re a mom–how do you carve out Me Time? And how important do you think it is, in terms of overall health?

Beauty Rescue: The Eyes Have It

dark-circles-under-eyesAre the bags under your eyes bigger than the purse you carry? Are your dark circles heading into Rocky Horror Picture Show territory?

The tissues around our eyes are a highly responsive area of our faces–all our woes, illnesses, and sins show up there.

On YMC I posted a two-part series recently, on a very pesky health/beauty problem: under-eye bags, and their nasty little bedfellow, under-eye shadows. In each article, I break down the common causes for each problem and–more importantly–what you can do.

I hope you find them useful!

For more skin & beauty posts, read these next:

The Three Spheres Of Stress Detox

Hammock on BeachI’m preparing a workshop called Stress Detox that I’m giving next week, so I’ve been thinking about stress a lot lately. It’s a topic I’ve written about many times in the past…but looking back on my old posts, I think I’ve neglected to give an overall view of my approach to stress management.

In the past few years, after much reading and real-life experience helping patients, I’ve come to feel that there are three major spheres when it comes to dealing with your stress. Three types of approaches–and, ideally, you want to work on all three.

1. Cultivate The Skills Of Short-Term Stress Busting.

No matter how you’ve structured your life, you’re always going to encounter stress. Life is unpredictable. And, some situations can’t be changed (see #2). But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer when stressful stuff happens. Short term stress-busters are skills that you can learn. These are things that you can do, in the immediate moment, to help cope with your stress reaction. Here are some of those coping strategies. And here. And here.

2. Change Stressful Situations.

If your stress is out of control, there’s a good chance something’s gotta change. Maybe you’re overcommitted. Or trapped in a bad relationship. Struggling in a toxic workplace. These sorts of external stressors need to be changed, because no matter how many yoga classes and breathing exercises you do, you’re not going to be able to fully manage your stress until you make some changes. Of course, easier said than done. If you’re feeling stuck, you may need to talk it out with a counsellor. Sometimes, of course, things can’t be changed. Your situation is what it is, and you simply have to deal with it. That’s when you really need to work on #1 and #3.

3. Create A Stress-Resilient Lifestyle.

Here, I’m talking about your long-term strategy. Because, let’s face it, shit is always going to happen. And it’s not good enough to just cope with stress when it hits you in the face. Better, is to give yourself some resilience, some stress hardiness. How do you protect yourself from having a meltdown with every little blip? You shore up your reserves. With sufficient sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet. Here are some other ways to build a stress-resilient lifestyle. And here.

So, how about you? What do you find helps the most with your stress? What are your coping strategies?

How To Have A Healthy Christmas

Red and golden baublesThere’s nothing quite like illness to wreck your holidays, am I right? Give yourself the gift of health this year. Here are my thoughts on how to stay healthy this holiday season:

Avoid colds & the flu.

Seems like everyone is sniffling, sneezing, or coughing. Viruses are a fact of life in the winter, but does that mean there’s nothing you can do to avoid them? Not at all. Keep yourself healthy with my top tips. LIke zinc. And probiotics. And washing your hands. But…if you do happen to get a cold or the flu (it happens to the best of us)…here are 12 natural remedies for those nasty viruses.

Get some exercise, even if the thermometer suggests otherwise.

I know it’s tempting to hibernate as temperatures drop, but resist this temptation. There are so many benefits to be gained from regular exercise; don’t rip yourself off! Exercise helps with preventing colds, managing stress, improving sleep, and, of course, fending off excess turkey/chocolate/shortbread pounds. The things to keep in mind when it comes to exercising outdoors: dress warmly in LAYERS. Warm up sufficiently. And, because the winter days are so short and you may very well be exercising in the darkness, make sure you are visible (reflective patches, headlamps).

Have a happy holiday by conquering stress.

Stress is rampant at this time of year. But it doesn’t have to be a given. If I had to give just one tip: simplify. (But, lucky for you, I do happen to have several other ideas.) See my recent YMC post, Holiday Stress Survival Toolkit, for 10 ways to kick stress to the curb this Christmas.

And if your merry-making should go a little too far…

Is there any evil quite so perfect as the hangover? It’s such a fun combination of physical misery with the particular misery that comes from knowing it’s your own. damn. fault. Still, we’ve all been there. And, obviously, the best thing is to drink in moderation. But if that doesn’t exactly pan out, here’s your morning-after rescue kit:

  • rehydration (water is best, but sport drinks are fine, too)
  • painkiller of your choice (like Tylenol or Advil)
  • something to settle your stomach (like Tums or Zantac)
  • something to supply a little sugar (like fruit or juice)
  • something to supply a little salt (like saltines or clear soup broth)

Of course, when it comes to hangovers, the only surefire treatment is time. And if you have the luxury of going back to bed, do that. Your body will heal itself with rest.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

How To Face The Fear Of Cancer

I have written about cancer in the past (how to prevent it, what foods help fight it, new research into prevention…), and I’ve certainly touched on the fear of cancer in previous posts (and TV appearances!). But today, on Yummy Mummy Club, my post is all about the fear of cancer. That’s because the fear of cancer is HUGE. A recent study showed that 70% of us fear cancer–and that’s over and above all other (suitably fear-inducing) illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

So in the face of something so terrifying, where do you start? How do you begin to conquer a fear of cancer?

Well, I have some thoughts. Head on over to my YMC post, Facing A Fear Of Cancer, to see what I’ve got to say.

Stress Relief, STAT

Yesterday I wrote a post called Stress Relief For Moms in 60 Seconds Flat. The rationale: moms typically have stupid amounts of stress. But also: no time. Sure, it would be great to decompress on a regular basis with standing appointments at the spa, daily trips to the yoga studio, etcetera. But who has the time for that? (Not to mention the money.) 

So it’s my mission to bring quick stress relief to moms (and anyone else, for that matter, who’s got stress and a time crunch. Or stress because of a time crunch, even.)

I’ve written about this topic before, but stress management is evergreen. We’re always going to need tricks and strategies. If you’re with me, head on over to Yummy Mummy Club to read about one of the quickest and easiest ways you can defuse all that tension.

For Good Mental Health: Exercise! (But…Not Too Much?)

A study came out in the September online issue of Preventive Medicine showing that 2.5 to 7.5 hours of exercise each week is good for your mental health. No surprises there, right? But, in the study population (of over 7,500 adults), people who exercised more than 7.5 hours a week had dramatic increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Shocked? I know I am.

We always recommend exercise as a healthy, non-pharmaceutical way of improving mental health and relieving stress. But this is the first study to suggest that you can overdo it. That it’s not a simple dose-response relationship, that there may be an optimal amount of exercise for mental health.

Right off the bat, one possible explanation for this finding: people who are already feeling stressed/depressed/anxious may be more likely to exercise a lot, in effort to control their symptoms. After all, this study only found an association between more than 7.5 hours of exercise and poor mental health, not a causative relationship. But…it has to be said, it’s also possible that exercising that much causes a strain on your mental health. (I know it would for me–who the heck has the time for that much exercise, anyway?)

This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. You are not off the hook when it comes to exercise.

But it is fascinating, nonetheless. And I, for one, am looking forward to subsequent research that will hopefully sort this out, and tell us whether it really is bad for our mental health to exercise too much.

Read these exercise-related posts next:

Emotional Eating: How To Be The Boss

(A re-run of one of my fave topics…)

Do you eat for comfort? If we’re honest, most of us could say yes to this question.

The RARE indulgence (say, for example, a nose-dive into a pint of Haagen-Dazs dulce de leche in front of an open freezer door after ending a 4.5-year-long toxic relationship with a total narcissist and cat-hater…ahem…) is not going to kill anyone. But I think we all know this is not a great habit if it happens too often. Turning to food for every little speedbump in life? Not a good idea.

I read an interesting thing recently, about the differences between men and women and their comfort eating habits (in the book Mindless Eating, which I reviewed recently).

When surveyed about their top comfort food choices, men tend to name things like pasta, soup, and meatloaf. Women, on the other hand, tend to name ice cream, cookies, and chocolate.

Why the difference?

One theory: men feel “taken care of” or “doted upon” with these foods. Meals like mom always made…right? But for a woman, soup or meatloaf or lasagne represents, typically, work. Because they’re the ones cooking these comforting meals! Which turns out to be not so comforting if you’re the one slaving in front of a stove.

The comfort foods that women gravitate towards are snackish: quick bites, scarfed down with nary a cutting board or Crock Pot in sight. And certainly without dishes to wash afterwards. And that’s comfort, in my book.

Fascinating, no?

So, the question is: how do we get that comfort factor without having to go up a jeans size?

Start by re-training yourself to pay attention to those emotional eating cues. When your fingers start twitching toward the cookie tin, ask yourself: Am I really hungry? Really? No, I mean, like truly hungry?

If not, maybe you need to seek comfort elsewhere. Spa, anyone? Call a friend? Listen to your favorite music?

Beyond dealing with immediate urges, you might need to take a look at your greater need to deal with stress. And this requires a more cohesive strategy. Breathing exercises are a great place to start, and from there it depends on your personal preferences: regular exercise, meditation, yoga…

Also, set up your environment so it’s not your enemy. If you know you are a weak, weak woman in the presence of All-Dressed Ruffles…don’t keep them in the house. Sure, you can always drive to the store to pick up a bag, or five, but making it that much harder for yourself will help. Plus the drive will give you a moment for a sober second thought. And to talk yourself down from the precipice.

Get organized with your snacking. Meaning, keep your house/desk/purse stocked with quick and easy bites that are healthy. Like baby carrot sticks. Walnuts in a snack-size ziploc. Fruit.

Okay, I know baby carrots are an exceedingly poor substitute for chocolate. But it just may fill up that little corner or satisfy the need to munch on something long enough for you to distract yourself. Or get yourself outside for a walk, or to the yoga studio, or to your best friend’s house, or whatever it takes to abort the impending breakdown that triggered the chocolate craving in the first place.

Baby carrots. So crazy it just might work.

10 Common Causes of Fatigue

Feeling “tired all the time” is a modern-day plague. It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t describe this feeling. Seriously.

So what’s up with that? Well, I have some thoughts. And on my Yummy Mummy Club blog I’ve broken down 10 über-common reasons for that feeling of fatigue.

You can read all about them, here, and see if one (or more) is the culprit for you. (If you can stay awake long enough, that is…)

The Health Benefits of Writing

First, an announcement: I recently started a new blog…over at kimfosterwrites.com. And the main reason for that: I have a book deal!

 *pops champagne*

For a long time I’ve been a closet novelist. I’m talking years of scribbling away and inhabiting the imaginary worlds of my brain. At long last, just this past July, my agent landed me a 3-book deal with Kensington Books in New York, and my first novel is due out in May 2013.

But this all leads me to my topic today, which is: the health benefits of writing.

It’s a niche research topic, to be sure, but studies have shown that creative and expressive writing can be a therapeutic exercise. Writing helps reduce anxiety, provides an emotional outlet, and can guide people through traumatic life events such as bereavement and coping with serious illness.

But there’s more to writing than stress reduction and emotional support. Turns out there’s physiologic benefit too.

Here’s what some of the research has shown. Regular writing can:

  • sharpen your memory
  • improve your sleep
  • boost immune cell activity
  • speed healing after surgery
  • improve well-being (mental and physical) in cancer patients

Studies have shown benefit from all manner of writing styles: expressive writing, journalling, formal writing therapy, poetry, and even blogging (which is, in its purest sense, a form of expressive writing).

One of my fave bloggers (and my editor at Yummy Mummy Club, as it happens…), the super-clever Ali Martell, calls her blog Cheaper Than Therapy. And she is oh-so-right.

The therapeutic value of writing is certainly something writers have long known. I know I’m not the only writer who reports feeling a tad grouchy if I don’t get my regular writing time. And, as long as you don’t go all Hemingway and drink yourself into a self-destructive spiral, there is health benefit to be had. (Also, as long as you stand up and walk away from the computer from time to time, yes?)

So how about you? Do you write? Is it therapeutic for you? Are you a healthier, happier person for it?

Dr. Kim Foster, MD. (photo credit: Tamea Burd Photography)

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