“Mommy said there’ll be days like this / There’ll be days like this / Hey, don’t worry, Mama said.”
These are some of the lyrics to a hit song by the Shirelles in the early 1960s.
Whenever times are stressful, parts of this song play in my head. Sometimes it helps.
Unfortunately, the song has been playing in my head more often than I’d like over the past few months. Several of my extended family members and friends have experienced serious illnesses and we have lost two family members.
Most, if not all, experience stress from time to time.
Stressors come in many forms and affect people in different ways. Stress can affect our body and mind.
We may be challenged by financial issues as we pay for our groceries, gas, utilities, or medical bills. Our work or educational work can be stressful. Our personal health issues can be difficult on several levels, especially if they remain unresolved or unrecognized. Coping with the long winter months can be tough.
When faced with stressors, we may have stomach upset or pain in the neck, back or shoulders. We may experience headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or overeating.
We may clench or grind our teeth and our heart may race. We may not want to do anything. We may not feel ready to eat healthy or do regular physical activity.
Stress can make us feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed or depressed.
If stress is not treated and managed, it can promote heart health problems, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
What can you do to help yourself in times of stress?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers great ways to treat and cope with stress, which I summarize below. In addition to my “music therapy,” I’ve tried to keep these tips in mind. Look https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/index.html for more information.
- Follow 24-hour news. If the news and social media make you anxious, take a break from them or disconnect.
- Take care of your body. Focus your calories on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Limit added salt, sugar and saturated fat. The food you eat can nourish your body and mind.
- Accumulate 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Take a walk, swim or cross-country ski if you’re so inclined. Get up and walk for a few minutes every hour if you have a sedentary job.
- Aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, notify your health care provider.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and smoking. Alcohol provides no nutrients and can lead to health and/or addiction problems.
- Take prescription drugs as prescribed.
- Relax through stretching, deep breathing, and other relaxing activities like a warm bath or massage.
- Connect with your family and friends. Share your thoughts and feelings.
- Never feel bad about seeking professional help. It is a sign of strength.
Some of my colleagues have expertise in mental health, so I encourage you to check out these NDSU Extension resources about stress management. These have been developed especially for those who work in agriculture. Look www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/ag-hub/ag-topics/farm-safety-health/managing-stress for more information.
A soothing bowl of soup always makes me feel a little better. If winter is bothering you, the title of this recipe might make you feel hopeful that winter will lead to spring. This recipe from the US Department of Agriculture is full of colorful and nutritious vegetables.
Spring vegetable soup
1 tablespoon olive oil or your favorite salad oil
1/4 red cabbage (medium head, about 2 cups, finely chopped)
2 ripe tomatoes (medium, seeded and chopped)
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
1 cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
1 glass of water
2 teaspoons of dried basil
Salt and pepper (freshly ground black pepper, optional, to taste)
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the cabbage, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and peas for 10 minutes. Add vegetable stock and water. Let it boil. Reduce the heat, add the basil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and the soup is hot. Serve in individual serving bowls. Adjust according to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes four servings. Each serving has 136 calories, 5 grams (g) of fat, 5 g of protein, 20 g of carbohydrates, 6 g of fiber and 73 milligrams of sodium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., RD, LRD, is a food and nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University and a professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)
NDSU Agriculture Communication – January 26, 2023
Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-5391, email@example.com
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