Tommy Kennedy | Director of Safety and Human Resources
Anne Widener | School Nurse
Stress. We all have it, and during these uncertain times, stress can manifest itself in different ways. The key is to realize it and address it head-on. Here are some points that can help us all cope with our present-day reality. It is certainly something none of us thought about when we started school back in August.
Go to the Word and Pray
Encouragement might be specifically for you! Whether you are scrolling through social media or watching Chap’s “One Minute ‘Cause He’s In It” videos, listen to what the Lord is saying. Slow down enough to hear Him.
Meditate on God's Word and truths:
Phillippians 4:6-8: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Clear your head - focus on other things! Harvard Medical School shares some science behind exercise: “The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over.”
Good Food Choices & Supplements
Proper diet can counterbalance the impact of stress by strengthening the immune system, stabilizing moods, and reducing blood pressure. Vitamins and the use of supplements look different for everyone, but it could include vitamins, shakes, or even a healthy dose of orange juice in the morning. Take care of yourself!
Important Nutrients for Stress-Reduction:
- Vitamin C: Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and other citrus fruits, can reduce stress and boost the immune system. Intake of this vitamin can help lower the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can induce the brain to increase serotonin production and stabilize blood pressure as a way to reduce stress.
- Magnesium: Obtaining an adequate amount of magnesium is essential for avoiding headaches and fatigue. Oral magnesium can also successfully relieve premenstrual mood changes. Additionally, increased magnesium intake has been found to improve sleep quality in older adults. Healthy sources of magnesium include spinach or other leafy greens, salmon, and soybeans.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna) and nuts and seeds (such as flaxseeds, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce surges of stress hormones and also confer protection against heart disease and depression.
Healthy Comfort Foods:
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate can not only satisfy your taste buds, but it can also help relieve stress at the molecular level. Additionally, cocoa can also improve cognitive function and mood. Researchers also found that daily dark chocolate consumption can be beneficial for individuals suffering from high levels of anxiety.
- Oatmeal: Certain comfort foods, such as oatmeal, can reduce levels of stress hormones and also result in a boost in serotonin, which stimulates a feeling of calmness.
Source: UCLA’s Explore IM resources
Reduce Caffeine Intake
Caffeine comes with a burst of energy, which is what most of us use it for. However, that energy also stimulates our “fight or flight” hormones. This may cause an increase in anxiety, nervousness, heart palpitations, and even panic attacks.
Those who are already prone to stress and anxiety may find that caffeine makes their symptoms a whole lot worse. Additionally, higher caffeine intake has been linked to increased chances of depression in adolescents.
By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.
Journaling can serve as a mental escape and emotional release. It is one of the best ways to clear your minds and emotions. It forces you to focus on internal awareness of the present and process thoughts and emotions in the here-and-now. By gaining this focus, one might be better able to obtain clarity around what is most important to them and reduce their stress.
Source: 5 Powerful Ways Journal Writing Changes Your Life
Lean On Family - Find Someone To Listen
There are many experiences in life that at times leave us emotionally overwhelmed. At these times, we walk around feeling emotionally charged up and filled with tension. Frequently, what has happened to us cannot be changed, such as when someone we love dies, a tragic accident occurs or we have learned we have a terrible illness. When these experiences descend upon us, we feel emotionally frozen. We find ourselves stuck in a state of despair and pain. At these times, talking can help.
There is a word that captures how talking helps - catharsis. Talking leads to a catharsis, which means a feeling of relief. The charged feelings within us become less charged. Nothing has changed that caused the suffering in our lives, but talking has drained off some of the pain and this brings relief.
Talking helps in other ways, too. Many times when we talk with a friend, a family member or a therapist, we are stuck. We don’t know what to do. But as we talk, we hear ourselves express feelings and information that have not been expressed before. It is this experience of hearing ourselves that allows us at times to suddenly think of what to do. A solution pops into our mind.
Source: How Talking Helps
"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul." Everyone knows that laughter makes you feel good and puts you in high spirits, but did you also know that laughter actually causes physiological responses that protect the body from disease and help your vital organs repair themselves? A good laugh can be compared to a mild workout, as it exercises the muscles, gets the blood flowing, decreases blood pressure and stress hormones, improves sleep patterns and boosts the immune system. Furthermore, a study by the John Hopkins University Medical School showed that humor and laughter can also improve memory and mental performance. Yet despite the fact that laughter has so many benefits, far too many of us forget to even crack a smile every once in a while, let alone laugh.
Short-term effects of Laughter:
- A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Long Term effects of Laughter:
Laughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.