Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking Care of Your Body

Taking care of your body is the first category of behaviors that I'll talk about that can diminish anxiety.

Yes, this is where I recommend what your mother has been telling you all along.

Limit Your Caffeine Intake. Caffeine sneaks in everywhere it can: sodas--even ones that aren’t colas, coffee, chocolate, some aspirins, non-herbal teas, some liqueurs (e.g., Kahlua, Frangelico), energy drinks, flavored bottled water, etc. Completely cutting your caffeine intake will not get rid of all your feelings of anxiety, but caffeine does contribute to jitteriness.

Get Enough Sleep. Most Americans are sleep deprived. The experts say you should get eight or eight and a half hours of sleep every night. They also say you should get sleep in increments that are divisible by 90 minutes. Which eight and eight and a half are not, so you figure that out. The idea behind the 90-minute sleep increment is that human sleep cycles are approximately an hour and a half.

Get Proper Nutrition. Most people know what this is. Most people do not do it. If you want to know what good nutrition is, check out Harvard’s Web site (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/pyramid) or the federal government food pyramid (www.mypyramid.gov). And, no, peas and corn are not vegetables nutritionally speaking. And grains that are not whole grains (and whole wheat is not the same thing as a whole grain) are pointless globs of glue for your stomach. Stick with products that have ingredients that would appear in an average kitchen. (No nitrates, preservatives, dyes, msg, high fructose corn syrup, etc.)

Exercise Four to Five Times per Week. Pick something you enjoy--team sports, weightlifting, biking, walking, running, hiking. Pick something that can become a seamless part of your life so you don’t feel you have to go out of your way to do it. Joining a gym that you have to drive to is a pain in the ass. But if you have a gym at work, use it during your lunch hour. You have no excuse for not doing it. Or get a treadmill or stationary bike, put it in front of your TV and hop on (the treadmill or bike, not the TV) and watch a Mythbusters marathon. If you have a buddy you regularly go to dinner with, start running together instead.

Up next Tueday: Relaxation Techniques

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