Friday, September 12, 2014

"Healthy Habits Lead to Decreased Stress"

A Certified Health Coach, Sarah Dubois, offered many tips for living a healthy lifestyle that will decrease the amount of stress one feels throughout a job search.

We began the evening discussing with a neighbor three things: how we feel when stressed, what you do when stressed, and what you eat when stressed.  As a group many people reported being anxious when stressed.  Also, we reported how hard it is to concentrate and to accomplish tasks when stressed.  Many people have trouble sleeping, have headaches, and do not eat right when stressed.  Chocolate is a go-to food for many when stressed!

One of Sarah’s main interests is the healthy nutrition aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. We discussed the effects of sugar on our bodies. Eating sugar raises your energy level for a short period, then it drops leaving you wanting more sugar. This can lead to very unhealthy eating habits. Sarah advocates one great way to reduce your stress is to watch and limit your daily intake of sugar. Sarah brought baggies of measured sugar demonstrating visually how much both men and women should consume in a day. For women, the amount was 5 teaspoons of sugar per day. Then she had a baggie showing how much the typical American eats daily – 30 teaspoons!  Sarah brought some food items that are typically considered “healthy” and showed us the amount of sugar in each. For example, a ready-made cup of Campbell’s Tomato soup has 12 grams of sugar per serving, and the soup bowl was considered two servings.  Most people would eat the whole container, at 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon - this would be nearly your whole daily allowance of sugar.

Our next topic was physical activity. Sarah emphasized the importance of daily activity and how it can lead to decreased stress. 

To address the common problem of having trouble sleeping while on a job search, Sarah offered many tips. These included having a regular bedtime routine, keeping electronics out of the bedroom, not using electronics right before going to bed, and limiting food and drink close to bed time.
The highlight of the evening was Sarah teaching us the 4-7-8 breathing technique for getting back to sleep when your mind is racing in the middle of the night. This involves breathing in for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of 7, then breathing out for a count of 8. We all practiced this technique four times in a row! Sarah explained that your brain concentrates on the counting and the breathing slows your body down making it easier to fall back to sleep.

We ended the evening discussing how to look at the many things we do each day in a positive way rather than a negative one. This is another way to decrease overall stress. For example, at the end of the day do not focus on all the things you did not accomplish, but rather, focus on those things that you accomplished that day.


Everyone left with a number of useful tips for incorporating healthy habits into our lifestyles.

Posted by Karen Imbalzano, WIN participant

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