Stress. We all live with it on a daily basis. Whether it's something as simple and annoying as waiting for a slow moving freight to clear the tracks or being stuck on "hold" for what seems like forever when trying to complain to the your credit card company, it's there. We deal with it. Authors go through stress while on deadline. And if we aren't on deadline, we're wondering how to make our characters more interesting or how to give the plot a new twist. Stress.
However, too much stress can spell trouble for our bodies. When we hit overload, some obscure hormone kicks in and we end up in the old fight or flight syndrome. We might not recognize it, but it's there. The results can be detrimental to your health. Chronic stress can lead to overeating, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. Too much of any of these could bring on excessive alcohol consumption and depression. Not good.
However, there are things you can do to control your stress levels.
Pets. Dogs, cats--it doesn't matter. Walk or play with them daily. Talk to them. I did this to my late Liza whenever I had a plot problem. She'd look at me as if knowing what I was talking about. She probably didn't, but it made me feel better. If nothing else, just sit, hold, and stoke them. Pets love it and it won't do you any harm either.
Exercise. Yeah, I know. It's a bummer, but even if you just walk around the block, it releases energy that might otherwise be turned inward to become anxiety. I recently joined a gym and work out three mornings a week. It only takes an hour or so and I always feel better.
Make a weekly "to-do" list and tick off items one by one. The laundry is piling up? Run a couple of loads, then take the time to fold and put it away. Sweep or mop the floors. Keep busy until you can concentrate on other more important tasks.
Avoid overuse of the computer or cell phone. Do you really have to be online checking Facebook, tweeting, Instagramming, Snapchatting, or anything else every hour on the hour? I don't own a smart phone. I make sure I turn off my computer by six o'clock in the evening. That leaves time for family interaction.
Certain foods can also help you beat, or at least control, stress levels.
Nuts. They contain magnesium which helps us with our coping mechanisms. Same with leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin C. This can be found in most fruits, especially citrus. If you don't have a ready supply of fresh fruit nearby, go for a supplement. Can't hurt.
Fish oil. Those omega-3 oils found in many fish, especially salmon, can reduce stress. Don't care for fish? Once again, a supplement will do. I gave my dogs fish oil capsules once a day. Don't know if it did anything for their stress levels, but their coats were fabulous.
And finally, chocolate. Eating a small amount of chocolate every day does wonders reducing stress, but then any author alive could tell you that. The problem is keeping the portion to a "small amount." I guess that's all a matter of perspective.
Naturally, before beginning any new diet or exercise routine, talk to your doctor. Better safe than sorry.
So, there it is. Stress. I'm feeling it right now, so please excuse me while I go wolf down a Snickers bar as I walk around the block minus my computer and mentally petting a dog.
See you all next month.