Posts

Run Yourself to Happiness

Harris Interactive third annual Work Stress Survey reported that eight out of every 10 American workers are stressed by their jobs. Last year, the report showed that a shocking 73 percent of Americans were stressed at work; this year that number has jumped by more than 10 percent, leaving just 17 percent of workers unaffected by the stresses of work.

 

This report highlights a critical epidemic in our society: stress is becoming our nation’s biggest deterrent of happiness and satisfaction. Every aspect of the human body is negatively effected by stress – from the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, to the central nervous system, to the digestive, reproductive and muscular systems, to the immune system and the brain – stress as the ability to completely override our bodies, which suppresses our pursuit of happiness and negatively effects our quality of life.

 

It’s time to put an end to the suffering of stress. Before you spend immense amounts of money on anti-stress measures like medications, therapy and more, consider investing in a pair of tennis shoes and a gym membership. That’s right – by making an effort to exercise on a regular basis, you will find yourself becoming less stressed, less anxious and happier. Here’s how it works:

1.     Dopamine: The Happy Chemical

Dopamine, or “The Happy Chemical: is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s responsible for producing happy, pleasurable feelings. The older we get, the more dopamine we loose, making our brains more susceptible to feelings of stress and anxiety. However, exercises like running, lifting, jumping, playing, dancing and generally increasing your heart rate, triggers the release of dopamine in your brain – making you happier and less stressed.

2.     BDNF: The Positive Protein

When you’re stressed, your body experiences several different reactions: blood pressure rises, heartbeat increases, chest tightens, etc. As you begin to exercise, you experience very similar feelings, which tricks your brain into thinking that you’re either fighting stress, or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from this fight-or-flight concept, you release a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor, or BDNF. This protein has both protective and reparative effects on your memory neurons and acts essentially as a reset switch, which leaves us feeling calmer, clearer and happier after exercise.

3.     Endorphins: The Road to Euphoria

The other vital chemical in the fight against stress is called endorphins. This chemical is released to minimize the discomfort of exercise or block the feeling of pain. Endorphins are also heavily associated with feelings of euphoria, which bring sparks of intense happiness and ease to a stressed-out brain.

 

These chemicals and proteins play a big roll in what happens to our brain when we fight stress and unhappiness with exercise. It’s important to remember, however, that exercising more or exercising harder isn’t necessarily the key to happiness: it’s when you exercise that’s important.

 

A study from Penn State suggests that starting your day with 20 minutes of running or exercise will lead to the highest levels of happiness and productivity. With 20 minutes of exercise every morning, you reduce your risk of disease and other health issues, as well as your risk of stress and unhappiness.

 

Life is too short to struggle with sadness and stress, so what are you waiting for? Tie on those tennis shoes, turn up your music and get moving! Farewell stress, hello happiness.

 

 

Managing Stress at Work in 5 Easy Steps

work stress

Did you know that more than one third of American workers suffer from chronic work-related stress? Aside from being harmful to both your physical and emotional health, this stress is costing American businesses millions – even billions – of dollars per year in medical bills and hours lost of work.

 

Unfortunately, not all organizations provide sufficient resources to help you effectively manage your stress. Instead, you’re expected to do more with less, further adding to your list of current stressors. Other common factors that add to stress in the work place are:

 

  • Low salaries
  • Excessive workloads
  • Little chance of growth or advancement
  • Unchallenging work or assignments
  • Little social support
  • Little control over job-related decisions
  • Conflicting demands
  • Unclear performance expectations
  • Performance standards
  • More

 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to deal with your work-related stress in healthy, effective ways. Here are the top five:

 

1. Schedule appropriately

Contrary to common belief, working tirelessly for eight to ten hours a day does not help you get things done. In fact, these only add to stress, lower productivity and steal energy that you could be spending with family or friends after work. Instead, take scheduled breaks throughout the day to clear built up stress, rejuvenate and refocus.

2. Deter Distractions

You’ve probably noticed that throughout the day, you’re bombarded with texts, emails, phone calls, unscheduled meetings, urgent deadlines and more. This adds an immense amount of distraction to our days, which inevitably leads to higher stress. Consider only answering emails or responding to texts during specific times throughout the day. Set up walk-in hours to your office and have “silent” hours during the day.

3. Know What You Can Control

There are some factors in our day that we simply cannot control. On the other hand, there are also several factors you can control. If you begin to feel angry, overwhelmed or stressed, take a moment for a few deep cooling breaths – through your mouth, out your nose – and think about how you’re responding to the current situation.

4. Have Priorities

Create a to-do list that focuses on the projects or deadlines that have the most impact on your current job tasks. It’s important to not over-load this list, however, as you’ll likely feel more stressed if you end the day having only achieved a fraction of your list. Be realistic with yourself and your work load and prioritize appropriately.

5. Change Your Mindset

It’s all too easy to be hard on our selves. In fact, with more than 60,000 thoughts streaming through our brains a day, it’s no wonder we internalize negativity and stress. Instead of being your own worst critic, try to be positive and pump yourself. If necessary, consider making a list at the end of every day of all the things you accomplished – this will motivate you in the days to follow and it will positively influence those around you.

 

If you’re suffering from chronic stress don’t let concerns over proper insurance coverage add to the load. Contact Heuer Insurance Agency today. They can create a personalized plan that will help ease life stressors and get you on the right path to stress-free living.

 

 

9 Tips to Living a Healthier Life, Starting Today

healthy lifestyle

There’s so much advice out there telling us how we can be thinner, happier, sexier, more productive, etc. Wouldn’t you prefer to cut through the irrelevant tips and tricks and find something simple and easy that you can apply to your life starting today?

Here are 9 basic, actionable tips that will help you live a healthier life for real.

1.     Get enough sleep at night

A healthy lifestyle begins with a full-night’s sleep. Without enough sleep, you could be left unfocused and unmotivated, not to mention at higher risk for many diseases.

2.     Drink lots of water

Water keeps you functioning—it comprises two thirds of your body after all. With enough water each day, you’ll be more alert and energetic.

3.     Don’t skip breakfast

You may just find that the benefits of eating breakfast far exceed the excuses you make for skipping the “most important meal of the day.”

4.     Go for walks

Improving your health can be as simple as walking up to 12 miles per week. Explore a nearby nature hike, take the stairs rather than the elevator, or go on a simple walk around the block to clear your mind; before you know it, those 12 miles will fly by.

5.     Make a new friend

Friends are there for you when you need them, but they are also good for your health.

6.     Enjoy the sunshine

Don’t get sunburned, but soak in some rays nonetheless to reap the benefits of vitamin D.

7.     Snack on healthy foods between meals

Those in-between meals can either be a boon to your health, or a contributor to your waistline. Swap out high-fat, high-sugar snacks for natural, raw fruits, berries, veggies, and nuts.

8.     Chew your food

By simply chewing your food longer, you’re actually aiding in your body’s digestive process. It will also make dinner more savory (as it should be).

9.     Explore a new hobby

Exploring new hobbies and activities is a great way to reduce stress (which, by the way, has many adverse health effects, both mental and physical).

These 9 tips are examples of the little things in life that, on their own, don’t seem like a big deal, but when you give them a shot they can have a huge benefit on your health and wellbeing!