Category: coping skills

6 Stretches to Relieve Stress and Tension

If you’re not motivated enough to exercise I have good news. You can do several moves right from your chair, bed, and even your car when you’re at a red light.

It won’t have the same effects as exercise does, but stretching does help with relieving stress. Stretching gets the blood flowing, so it improves circulation and relieves muscle tension. Combine stretching with deep breathing and you’ll notice that it could also help to release mental, emotional, and psychological stress. Here are some simple but effective moves to try.

 

Grab one hand with the other, take a deep breath in, and lift your arms as high as you could. When you feel the stretch down your arms, hold it there for at least 10 seconds. Try to reach as high as you could. Breath out slowly. You can do this while sitting or standing  up. Like this lady…

stretching up

Take a deep breath in. Stretch out your arms as if your making a “T” or trying to tell someone how long something is. Stretch it as far as you can until you feel the stretch in your chest. Breath out slowly. Repeat 2-3 times.

stretch T

Sit up straight. Keeping your body straight, take a deep breath in,  try looking down until your chin touches you chest. Breath out slowly. You should feel your neck and shoulders stretching. Now do the opposite and look all the way up by only moving your neck. Now move your head so the your right ear almost touches your right shoulder. Do the same on your left ear and left shoulder.

worry

While sitting on your bed or couch, sit up straight, take a deep breath in and reach to touch your toes. Breath out. You’ll feel the back of your legs and your back stretching.

reaching for toes

While sitting down. Place your left leg over right right leg where the left ankle is touching the right knee. Usually how a lot of men sit. With your hands hold your left knee and ankle. Keeping your back straight, take a deep breath in, and try leaning forward as far as you can. You will feel your hip stretching. Now repeat on the other side.

hip stretch

Stand up straight with legs shoulder width apart. Take a deep breath in. Pretend you’re going to sit down. Hold your body in a squat position. Breath out slowly. Hold it for as long as you can.

squat

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

Share

Simple Activities To Boost “Happiness Chemicals”

How we feel in life basically has to do with our  “brain chemicals” These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Although we don’t have a way to measure how much you have when giving diagnosis, scientist do know that certain chemicals create specific feelings. Sadness, anxiety, excitement…all these feelings are produced by neurotransmitters.

How much or how little of these chemicals are produced depends on a lot of different things. Genetics, environment, past experiences, and diet to name a few.

The good news is that we can do things, on purpose, to help our body out in creating some of these chemicals. Try to do at least one of the following suggestions, everyday.

Eat organic yogurt. We’re talking about “brain chemicals” but the truth is that most of these hormones are in the lining of our stomach. The health of our stomach greatly affects our mood. Think about it. When you have  a “bad” feeling, or feel nervous, what part of your body do you feel it most? It’s usually the stomach.

Probiotics and prebiotics help keep our gut healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber to keep your gut healthy.

Give or get a hug. When you give a long hug to someone that you really care about, and you get that warm loving feeling, the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. Basically, physically intimate moments releases this hormone. This chemical calms down the amygdala, the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when we think we’re in danger. Oxytocin has been called the “bonding hormone”  or “love hormone” because it makes you feel closer to people.

For women, oxytocin helps in contractions when giving birth and it’s released during breast feeding.

Shock yourself with cold water. Either splash your face with cold water if you’re at school or work, or turn the water to cold at the end of your shower. The cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve that goes from our head all the way down to the gut. It helps regulate a bunch of bodily functions like the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, and other organs of the chest and abdomen.

Reminisce about happy times. Remembering happy memories helps increase serotonin. Serotonin does a bunch of things like helping neurons communicate with each other, improve memory, and most popularly known for increasing our mood. Anti-depressants (SSRI, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) is supposed to help our brain “lock in” the serotonin that we already have by preventing it from “fading away” (This is my explanation of it, not the scientific explanation.)

Watch a comedy. There’s a reason for the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. I completely agree with this. When we laugh we release several hormones responsible for releasing stress and tension and making us feel good, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.

Create small, challenging goals for yourself. Remember when you finished up a presentation you worked hard to prepare for, graduated from school after all those years, or completed a challenge you set for yourself? That small rush of pleasure was your brain releasing dopamine, the chemical responsible for reward and pleasure.

Try setting goals that challenge you in some way. It could be something as simple as cleaning up a messy room, or bigger goals like getting a new job, or getting fit.

Write down how you feel. Writing doesn’t necessarily release hormones, but it does calm down the mind. You could journal, or write short stories. A study done at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that writing calms down amygdala activity. As I said before, the amygdala is the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when it thinks we’re in danger. Our brain can’t tell if something is real or you’re imagining it. That’s why just thinking about certain things will cause you to feel stressed and activates the amygdala.

None of us can feel happy all of the time. But staying positive and healthy will help you feel more satisfied with your life. And when you feel satisfied with your life, everyone around you benefits.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

 

Share

Simple Ways To Exercise Without Going To The Gym.

We all hear about how good exercise is. It not only takes care of you physically but socially and emotionally. But how can we find the time to exercise when we’re so busy? The good news is you do not have to join a gym to get a good work out. You just have to get your body moving and raise your heart rate.
Here are some fun and simple ways to fit in exercise into your daily routine in order to improve your mood. Of course make sure you’re healthy enough to do some of these.

  1. While watching TV, hold a plank for 30 seconds.
  2. Since you’re already on the floor, do 10 push-ups.
  3. Try to always take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Go on YouTube and look for a workout routine that’s less than 10 minutes, then follow along.
  5. Stretch your body as soon as you wake up and before going to bed.
  6. Follow a Yoga Video.
  7. Go for a 20 minute walk in your neighborhood.
  8. If it’s too cold or your neighborhood is not good for walking, walk around the mall. (Don’t shop, just walk around the mall as if you were running late)
  9. Park far away on purpose.
  10. Play. Tennis, racket ball, basketball, baseball, swimming, wii fit, xbox Kinect games, etc.
  11. Download a pedometer app on your phone to keep track of how many steps you take a day. Try to go for 3500 steps a day. Fitbit does this already.
  12. Dance!
  13. Play in the snow. Have a snow ball fight.
  14. Lift Dumbbells. No Dumbbells? Lift cans of beans or half gallon of milk.
  15. Rough house with kids and/or partner.

Try to do at least 2 of these suggestions every day. Have fun with it and you’re more likely to do them.

About the Author.
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

Share

25 Coping Skills

Here’s a list of coping skills to try when you’re feeling really stressed out, worried or depressed. Try to do at least 2 things on this list every single day.

  1. Talk to one person about your feelings. Supportive friend, family or therapist.
  2. Have a “lazy” day or hour where you do NOTHING.
  3. Go for a walk in nature or a quiet environment.
  4. Help someone out by volunteering somewhere or help someone who you know needs help.
  5. Do a random act of kindness, on purpose.
  6.  Write out what you’re thinking as if you’re talking to someone. Then destroy it.
  7. If you don’t like writing, record yourself instead. Like a video diary.
  8. Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for and write at least 3 sentences of why you’re grateful for that thing. Think bigger than your life, like being grateful for having the sight to read these words, or that your family does not do arranged marriages.
  9. Color/paint/draw/doodle.
  10. Listen to music.
  11. Create play lists for different moods.
  12. Take a bubble bath.
  13. Take a hot shower. Before turning off the water, turn the water as cold as you can stand.
  14. Clean/organize your environment; room, house, desk, etc.
  15. Play/cuddle with a pet.
  16. Search “guided mediation” on YouTube and listen to one.
  17. Watch a funny movie or video.
  18. Create a vision board with pictures of things that you would like to do and have.
  19. Play games. Video games, board games, or games on your phone.
  20. Take a nap or just make sure you get enough rest.
  21. Read something that makes you feel good.
  22. Pamper yourself, like doing your hair or painting your nails.
  23. Watch your favorite movie or TV show.
  24. Write down or think about 5 good things you have going for yourself. For example, if you hate your job, at least you have a job. If you don’t have one, think about your strengths that will get you one, such as being responsible or being a hard worker.
  25. Create and stick to a daily schedule. Scheduling out your day will give you a routine and a sense of accomplishment.

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in  Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

Share

3 Techniques to Cope with Anxiety

Feeling anxious is a normal thing. We all feel nervous and worried at times. But when it affects you to the point where you have a hard time focusing, you can’t be around people, or it starts causing health problems, now you need to do something about it. Here are 3 fast ways to better cope with feelings of anxiety.

Ground yourself This is one of the most effective techniques to stop feeling anxious on the spot. When you feel anxious, it means that you’re thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet. Basically, making up scenarios in your head. Grounding forces you to bring your thoughts into the present. What you do is this… Name 5 things you can see right now, 4 things you can feel right now (like your pants), 3 sounds that you hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Depending on where you are, you might not use all of the 5 senses, but you want to use as many as you can. Again, this forces you to pay attention to the present, and not to something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Count your breaths Similar to grounding, it forces you to pay attention to the now. This is also a great exercise to help you sleep. There are different ways to do this. But one way is to take a deep breath in for 5 seconds long, and then breath out for 5 seconds long. If you’re really stressed, it’ll be hard at first to breath in for that long, but try to slowly increase it to 5 seconds. Then increase it to 6, and 7 seconds long. The counting in your head will help you stop thinking of anything else, and the deep breathing relaxes your body.

Turn your worry into a question Part of feeling anxious is that we are worried about something that hasn’t happened yet. And for some reason, we tend to think worse case scenarios. Because we don’t know what’s going to happen, we feel like we have no control. So turn your worry into a question. For example, instead of thinking “I’m going to fail the test,” ask yourself, “how can I better prepare for the test?’ Ask yourself how you can decrease the bad thing from happening, or how you can face the challenge. When you turn something into a question, you jump into problem solving mode, giving you a sense of control. One of the best ways to get rid of worry, is to turn it into a problem to solve. After you brainstorm some ways to solve the problem, take action.

Try practicing these three exercises when you notice yourself starting to get anxious. There are many different ways to deal with symptoms of Anxiety but you have to find what works for you.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

Share

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SUICIDE

The Suicide rate is up again since 1986 in the United States. It could be scary to talk about suicide but educating yourself …

5 TIPS ON HOW TO START A CONVERSATION.

Do you get anxious just thinking about starting a conversation with someone? Do feel awkward after just saying “hello” …

I DON'T HAVE TIME: Simple time management strategies to get things done. 

How many times a day do you make this statement when you have so many things to do? “I don’t have time” …