Wellness Tip // Relax, Meditate, Breathe

Meditation Grapic.jpgIs the stress of life getting you down? It may surprise your how much of an impact stress can have on your health and wellness. Try meditation to reduce stress and improve wellness.

Being healthy is so much more than just eating right and exercising, although that is a large part of it. Many times we find that our busy lives and high stress levels negatively affect our wellbeing. We often find it difficult to take a few minutes each day to rest our minds and find the peace that so many of us crave.

Studies have proven that chronic stress may be linked to many physical illnesses and can negatively affect our mental health.

  • 43% of adults experienced adverse health effects from stress
  • 75-90% of visits to a physician’s office are for stress-related conditions and complaints
  • Stress has been linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. Developing the ability to relax is essential to effectively mitigating the impacts of stress and anxiety.

With all of our duties and responsibilities, how can we relax and enjoy life’s simple moments? Meditation may be the answer.

Meditation has been used for years as a way to increase calmness as well as to physically relax. Meditation is a combination of the mind and body working together. The purpose of meditation is to find peace and calm our minds. According to the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health, there are numerous types of meditation, but most have four common elements:

  • A quiet location with few distractions
  • A comfortable position (sitting, lying down, walking)
  • A focus of attention on something specific
  • An open attitude to let distractions come and go without judgment

There are numerous benefits to meditation. It: calms, restores, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, frees our mind from worries, helps us focus on happiness, creates a more stable mood, increases our control over life’s situations, decreases muscle tension, helps with weight loss, enhances energy levels, improves memory, gives greater tolerance, gives deeper spirituality, slows the aging process, and helps to put things in perspective.

Learning to relax through meditation is a skill that takes time and practice.  Try watching this YouTube video to learn how to meditate in 5 easy steps.

There are a wide range of meditation techniques to choose from. Take time to explore different methods, and find what works best for you. There are a plethora of online resources and apps that can guide you. Dedicate 10 minutes each day to finding a quiet space to relax. Discover what works for you and learn ways to relax and reflect on the positive things in your life. Life is too short to spend time on negative thoughts.

Find your peaceful place!

This article was written by Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension assistant professor


http://www.csbsju.edu/chp/counseling/self-care/relax-meditate https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm


Tips to De-Stress Your Holiday Season

De Stress Your Holiday.jpgThe finish line is in sight— Christmas is almost here. Don’t let the stress of the holidays get you down. Try these tips to manage your stress, and better enjoy the holiday season.

Perhaps it’s the first time you hear “Jingle Bells” on the radio or see Christmas lights go up on a neighbor’s house.  Whatever the moment may be, you have the realization that the holiday season is in full swing.  You may experience childlike feelings of excitement that accompany the season, but at the same time, a very adult feeling may sneak up on you — stress.

Counting down the days left to shop, making travel plans and organizing family get togethers can leave you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, rather than full of holiday cheer.  The holiday season brings many responsibilities, and even the fun activities can leave you feeling tired and stressed.  According to the American Psychological Association, the main sources of holiday stress are related to relationships, finances, and physical demands.  By following a few practical tips, you can reduce and manage the stress that accompanies the holiday season.

Relationships can create stress at any time, but tensions and conflicts are often intensified during the holiday season when increased demands are placed on family members.  On the other hand, facing the holidays without a loved one can create feelings of sadness and loneliness.

  • Take time for yourself.  Spend 15 minutes alone to refresh and clear your mind.
  • Have realistic expectations.  Families change and grow, so traditions and rituals may change as well.  Hold on to the most special traditions, and be open to creating new ones.
  • Reach out to others.  Community agencies and social events offer support and companionship for those who may feel lonely and isolated during the holiday season.  Volunteering and helping others can lift your spirits and put your family life into perspective.
  • Make time for fun.  

Financial issues often arise during the holiday season, leading to undesirable stress.  Gifts, travel, food and entertainment expenses add up quickly and can lead to unexpected debt.

  • Stick to a budget. Consider how much you want to spend in total for the season, and set a spending limit.  Keep track of how much you spend on the holidays, including decorations, travel, holiday entertainment and meals, and cards and postage.
  • Plan ahead. Before shopping, look through newspaper ads and store circulars to find which stores are running specials and where the prices are lowest.  Comparison shop on the Internet to find out which stores carry the items you want at the best price.
  • Make homemade gifts or give gift certificates for your time and talents.

Physical demands of the holiday season can initiate or increase stress.  Shopping for gifts, attending social gatherings, and preparing holiday meals can be exhausting.

  • Know your limits.  Give yourself permission to say no to extra holiday activities.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits.  Continue to get plenty of sleep and stay physically active.  Avoid overindulging at holiday meals by preparing a healthy snack ahead of time.

The holiday season can be stressful and overwhelming, but taking small steps to combat the stress can help you to relax and enjoy the season.  


This article was written by Shannon Cromwell, M.A., Extension Assistant Professor, Family & Consumer Sciences, Utah State University Extension, Sanpete County, 435-283-3472, shannon.cromwell@usu.edu


The American Psychological Association.  www.apa.org

Stress Busters // Finding Relief From Holiday Stress

holiday-stress-reliefAccording to the National Headache Foundation, people complain of a greater incidence of tension-type headaches and migraines between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Family stress, long lines and altered sleep and eating patterns play a key role. Consider these tips to reduce stress and tension this holiday season.

  • Exercise regularly. This helps you relax and let off steam. Also watch what you eat.
  • Try relaxation and stretching exercises such as neck rolls and slow, deep breathes to reduce muscle tension and headaches.
  • If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. The rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
  • Learn to delegate responsibility to others.
  • Forget about counting to 10. Count to 100 before doing or saying anything that could make matters worse.
  • Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
  • Get involved with other people. Do something for somebody. Do something with somebody.
  • Say “no” more often. It’s amazing how much stress can be eliminated by giving up unrewarding activities, refusing inappropriate requests and turning down invitations from people you don’t enjoy.
  • Find humor in every disaster. You can usually find something funny if you look for it. No disaster is so bad that it couldn’t be worse.
  • De-clutter your life. Get rid of clothes you never wear, objects that collect dust, furniture you hate and activities you don’t enjoy.
  • Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit of worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
  • Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
  • Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly, and compromise can be found on some issues. Ask yourself if it will matter in five years.
  • Eliminate destructive self-talk such as, “I’m too old…, I’m too fat…”
  • Shun the superman/superwoman urge. Be realistic. Set practical goals and simplify.
  • Take a break. A change of pace, no matter how short, can give you a new outlook on old problems.
  • When a problem is beyond your control, learn to recognize and accept it.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up your prescription, when projects are due, etc.  An old Chinese proverb states, “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”
  • Procrastination is stressful. Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full. Keep a well-stocked shelf of home staples. Don’t wait until you’re down to your last cup of flour to buy more.
  • Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If such things as your alarm clock, wallet, shoelaces or toaster are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
  • Be ready to wait. Reading a chapter of an e-book on your phone or keeping in touch on social media can make time spent standing in line or sitting in a waiting room almost pleasant. Everything takes a little longer than you expect, even if you already expect it to take longer.
  • Count your blessings. For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings and things that go right. Count them!


By Margie Memmott, USU Extension associate professor, 435-623-3451, margie.memmott@usu.edu