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Now that you have some great tips on how to incorporate exercise and healthy foods into your life, you also need to understand that it's important to have a sense of balance in your life.

Long hours on the job, running kids to soccer practice, music lessons and trying to run a household will exhaust you if you don't build in time for yourself. Stop and realize that you need to build in time for yourself.

Time to do the activities you enjoy. Exercises you like. Foods that you enjoy. Quiet time with family, friends and yourself. We're all about creating a balanced life that brings you joy!

Stress can rob you of that joy.  By focusing too much on work, problems or even fretting over getting enough exercise, can be draining.

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, but understanding how to control it and how to channel stress can be a challenge. We've included tips on how to reduce stress in your life, along with some quick tips you can use when you need fast relief during the day.

Stress Reduction
Quick Stress Reduction Tips
Add Balance to Your Life
Practical Living: Ideas for the Entire Family

Stress Reduction
Stress is a normal physical reaction that happens when you feel threatened or overwhelmed. Many times adults turn to solutions that only make stress worse, by adding more caffeine to keep them going through the day, smoking to calm the nerves or eating junk food in a rush. These so-called solutions only make stress worse, and don't address the cause of the stress.  The key is to get to the root of what's causing your stress and find a way to reduce it. 

With ever increasing demands in life, many people are under enormous stress. You can have emotional and physical signs of stress. Some people become moody, irritable, depressed, angry, restless or anxious. 

Others have memory problems, difficulty making decisions, inability to concentrate or become negative. Stress can have very real physical symptoms ranging from inability to sleep, headaches, digestive problems, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and more. Stress can even become dangerous by contributing to health problems such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, depression, substance abuse, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and many others. 

So, if you have noticed some of these signs, what do you do?  First, don't stress over it. Calmly sit back and take notice of what is causing you to feel overwhelmed.  Is it spending too much time at work?  Lack of time with your family?  Never have time for yourself?  Traffic woes? 

Determine the main causes of your stress and write down some ways to lessen the stressors. Put a plan into action, and if you feel totally overwhelmed, perhaps it's time to talk to a professional counselor - a psychologist, minister or physician - who can help you with these decisions. 

How can you take control of your life and restore balance?  Here are some tips to get you back in balance.

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep.
  • Develop a supportive network of family, friends and neighbors.
  • Connect with a few key people with whom you can truly share your feelings when you feel overwhelmed. 
  • Make exercise part of each day.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals.
  • Reduce caffeinated drinks and sugars from your diet.
  • Don't hide behind drugs and alcohol. Talk to a counselor if you feel the need to self-medicate when life seems stressful.
  • Set realistic expectations for each day. Don't make a "to do" list that is impossible to complete.
  • Take time each day for yourself. When life becomes stressful, give yourself a break. Take a walk or just go to a different location.  Do something that will make you happy!
  • Maintain your sense of humor, and remember to laugh and smile often. 

Quick Stress Reduction Tips
You're feeling stressed.  You're at work or just have a few minutes before you have to pick up the kids at school. What can you do to relieve your stress? Slow down and take a ten-minute break and do something you enjoy. 

  • Call a friend.
  • Walk on your favorite path. 
  • Play with your dog.
  • Give yourself a mini face and neck massage.
  • Go outside and sit in the yard.
  • Have your favorite healthy snack.
  • Laugh with a friend or loved one.
  • Read poetry or a short story that has a happy ending.
  • Meditate.
  • Do some deep breathing exercises.
  • Engage in progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body. 
  • Do yoga or Tai Chi.
  • Do some quick exercises with hand weights.
  • Take a warm, relaxing shower.
  • Turn the lights down and just rest quietly.
  • Have a cup of green tea with honey.
  • Put a warm cloth over your eyes and relax.
  • Get silly with your children!
  • Listen to a relaxation CD.

Add Balance Your Life
We all want a balanced, happy life.  Achieving it is sometimes a challenge.  But you can take better control through a few easy steps. 

  • Determine what is really important to you. List what is most important to you and focus your energy on those people and things.
  • Let go of unnecessary activities. Get rid of the time thieves that take you away from the things that you enjoy.
  • Guard your "me" time. While you would most likely not miss an appointment with the boss or your child's teacher, you need to protect the time you've scheduled for yourself.  Don't sign on to e-mail so much. Turn off the cell phone.
  • Let others help you. You are not a super hero, so you truly can't do everything. Let your spouse or family member stop by to pick up the groceries, sweep the driveway or clean up after dinner. Put your feet up and relax! Trade off with friends on watching each other's children, so that you can have an afternoon off. Take turns preparing dinner or lunches during the week. 
  • Just as you plan for a doctor's appointment or work, plan for fun.  Schedule in play time each day.  Put it in your day planner and keep that time sacred.

Practical Living:  Ideas for the Entire Family

Your children are constantly watching you.  Your behaviors of today are their behaviors of tomorrow.If you cannot manage your stress, it affects your children.  Take the time you need to take care of yourself.

If you expect your child to drink milk or eat veggies, you should too.

Show your children compassion and affection, and they will learn to give it to others. Make realistic decisions about foods you eat and your activity.  

Going from one extreme to another is frustrating. Make changes slowly and deliberately.

If changes will affect those around you, make them a part of the decision making.

Realize that NO ONE is perfect! The setbacks/mistakes that happen while trying to change eating or exercise habits are a natural and expected part of the journey.