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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine
Publix GreenWise Market

Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - Summer 2012

Stress Less

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Take the pressure off with these practical tips for knocking the wind out of your worst worries.

Can you blame Elaine Fantle Shimberg for feeling stressed? The Tampa-based author of 30 books is an active grandmother of 10 who regularly provides rides—and cookies. She also chairs a hospital foundation and serves on a slew of committees. Oh, and did we mention she's 75?

Her recipe for de-stressing? Lifting weights, treadmill walking, simplifying meal prep and lunching with upbeat friends.

Elaine doesn't take stress lying down, and neither should you. Here are five common stressors you don't have to live with anymore.

Storm Anxiety
"In Florida, we're lucky to have such beautiful weather, but we're also subject to thunderstorms. And from June through November, it's hurricane season," says William Booher, external affairs director for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. He knows that weather concerns are a source of stress for many people and offers these ways to cope.
  • Make a plan. "An emergency plan is one of the best stress reducers around," Booher says. Need help getting started? Visit the Publix Storm Basics center. (See the link below.)
  • Shop for essentials now. Before storm season is in full swing, visit your neighborhood Publix to stock up on bottled water, batteries, canned goods and other staples for a disaster kit. That will short-circuit stress when bad weather or another emergency is forecast for your area.
  • Look after elderly family members and neighbors. Check to make sure they also have the essentials they need to ride out a storm. That will lessen your stress about their welfare.
Weeknight Dinners
Maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent stress, according to The American Institute of Stress. But just getting a nutritious dinner on the table, especially when you're time-crunched, puts many families under pressure. Caroline Whaley of Marietta, Georgia, finds that planning and smart grocery shopping help dial down the problem.

A wife, stay-at-home mom of two little boys and the president of the Junior League of Cobb-Marietta, Caroline does her grocery shopping for the week on Sunday. She also buys healthy ingredients pre-prepped for the stove. "My boys love fruits and vegetables, and it's a great time-saver to buy them at Publix all cut up. If I can get dinner on the table quickly, we don't have to go out to a restaurant," Caroline says.

Turns out, those are two excellent stress solutions, says Amy Bigham, R.N. and assistant professor at Capstone College of Nursing at The University of Alabama. "Little stresses such as meal preparation can multiply the larger stresses in your life," she adds. "I tell friends that I don't cook at home—I 'assemble' meals from nutritious, ready-to-eat foods. Planning your week's meals and shopping for them ahead of time, rather than making several short super-market trips during the week, can help lessen dinnertime stress."


Sleep Troubles
In a 2009 study from the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers learned that some of the highest rates of diabetes in America occur in South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia, where up to 16.6 percent of people have the disease. Southerners also post high levels of hypertension and risk factors for heart disease.

Surprisingly, stress and sleep woes are linked to all three conditions, says Michael J. Decker, Ph.D., Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Decker served on a research team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that surveyed 5,630 people from Atlanta and surrounding areas. They found that 31 percent reported one or more sleep problems.

"The sleep-stress connection isn't that obvious, but it's very real," Decker says. His recommendations for a better night's sleep include:
  • Get plenty of aerobic exercise—but not within two hours of bedtime
  • Make sure to socialize because loneliness contributes to insomnia
  • Banish pets from your bed
  • Sleep in a darkened bedroom
The Daily Grind
You can take the teeth out of stressful situations by coming up with creative solutions, says Paul J. Rosch, M.D., clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College and president of The American Institute of Stress. Here's what he recommends.

Try, try again. Say you routinely have a stressful commute. You might assume there's nothing you can do about it, Rosch says. But be proactive: First, ask your boss if you could arrive and leave an hour earlier or an hour later to avoid traffic. If that's not possible, suggest telecommuting so you could work from home, at least part-time. And if that's not an option either, then get positive. Say, "I'm going to use this time in a better way." Maybe you learn a foreign language or listen to audio books while you're driving. Now you've put yourself in control of your stressor—and that, says Rosch, is the first step toward neutralizing it.

Money
Financial stress ranks as one of the top worries for many Americans. Making a financial plan can bring welcome peace of mind, says Mary Evans of Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Evans, a Certified Financial Planner, says that "not facing your finances creates stress that's off the charts. I've seen it ruin marriages." The fix is simple, and you can do it at any age. Just follow this three-step approach to getting control of your money.

Step 1. At cfp.net, you can learn how to organize your finances and see where to get help from a Certified Financial Planner.

Step 2. Talk with your friends who are successfully weathering the current economy, suggests Evans. And ask them—without prying!—what their secrets are and if they have a financial planner they'd recommend.

Step 3. Before you can devise a plan, you have to know where you're starting from. So be sure to list everything—all of your assets and all of your debts—and itemize your monthly household expenses. Do this before you meet with a financial planner. Just seeing it all in black and white can help lessen your financial stress and perhaps identify areas where you can most easily reduce your expenses.

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