Take It Easy: Stress Relief Strategies for Busy Business Owners

Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world. A whopping 55% of Americans report high stress levels, compared to the global average of 35%. Many people have adopted a “busy is best” mindset, in which over-scheduling and over-working are glorified as productive, and anything less is lazy.  

caucasian woman with palm on her forehead looking at something
Stress can cause somatic symptoms and can lead to long-term mental health problems.

It’s no surprise that business owners also report higher than average stress levels. According to a Gallup poll, 45% of entrepreneurs report being stressed, and an additional 34% report having “worried a lot” about business-related issues.

Stress takes a toll on our bodies and our brains. We carry stress in our neck, back, shoulders, and jaw. This can result in tight, sore muscles, pinched nerves, and tension headaches. Stress can cause somatic symptoms like stomach aches, nausea, and even heart palpitations. Chronic stress can lead to long-term mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It is important, therefore, to find ways to manage your stress.

Take it easy

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to your mental well-being. Experts agree that getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right, and taking time off from work are great ways to help keep stress at bay. But if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try these five strategies to help feel calmer and more in control.

Take a breath

Taking a few moments to focus on your breath can help reduce stress levels almost instantaneously. There are a variety of guided meditation and breathwork apps available, but you don’t really need any outside help to focus on your breath. Experts recommend the “square breathing” technique. Inhale for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 3, hold for a count of 3, and repeat. As you follow this pattern, try to visualize a square being drawn. 

Change of pace

Sometimes a change of scenery is all we need. Physically removing yourself from a situation can help you gain the perspective you need. Leave the office: treat yourself to lunch out, take a walk, or go for a drive. Practice a deep breathing technique to re-center before returning to the office.

Fuel yourselfgrilled salmon with vegetables on a plqte.

It might sound basic, but eating a well-balanced meal can work wonders. Make sure you get a brain-fueling protein, a complex carbohydrate, and fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure you drink a full glass of water. Stay away from over-indulging in basic carbs, salty foods, sugary sodas, and coffee. If you need an extra boost of caffeine, try a cup of green tea. While you’re eating this meal, try to shut off your work phone for a few minutes and eat mindfully.  


As a business owner, it can be hard to put down your work and walk away. But sometimes it’s what you need to do. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, put your phone on silent, commit to ignoring emails, and focus on something else. Being present in the moment can help settle the mind, regulate stress hormone levels, and bring a sense of renewed focus when you return to work.

Ask for helptwo set of hands holding white mugs on a table.

It can be helpful to identify a person with whom you feel safe talking about your emotions. That might be a partner, friend, counselor, sibling, or parent.  Having someone who is aware that you’re feeling overwhelmed and who can share their own stresses with you can help you feel less isolated in your struggles.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your work day, try some of these strategies to lower your stress levels throughout the day. They might seem simple, but they are reminders to take care of yourself. If you continue to experience uncontrollable feelings of stress, helplessness, or if you feel unsafe in any way, reach out to your primary care physician or text REASON to 741741 for free and confidential crisis support 24 hours a day. 

Things You Can Do To Prevent Premature Birth

In the U.S., 1 in 10 births is premature. Full-term pregnancies last from 39 to 40 weeks. “Preterm labor” is when labor begins earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy, and can lead to premature birth. A baby needs 40 weeks in the womb in order to fully develop. Until 39 weeks, the brain, lungs, ears, eyes, and liver are still growing. So, when a baby is born earlier than 37 weeks, there can be serious health concerns. Sleep apnea, heart problems, breathing problems, and mental retardation, to name a few, can occur at birth, and continue later in life. In order to shed light on how often premature birth occurs, why it does, and how to prevent it, November was named Prematurity

Woman's pregnant belly being held with both hands.
Being pregnant with twins is a risk for premature birth.

Awareness Month. 

What Causes Preterm Birth

Premature birth can be caused by a number of different factors. Your risk factors are greater if you:

  • Already had a premature baby
  • Were a premature baby yourself
  • Are pregnant with twins
  • Are overweight or underweight
  • Have uterus or cervix issues/abnormalities
  • Have gum infections- Pregnant women are more susceptible to periodontal disease which gets into the bloodstream and to the fetus.
  • Smoke
  • Have uterine or vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis, STI’s, and UTI’s
  • Get pregnant too soon after having a baby
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are diabetic
  • Have stress caused by a traumatic experience
  • Are younger than 17 or older than 35. Women between these ages are considered to have a “high-risk” pregnancy. 

How To Prevent Premature Birth

Even though there are risk factors that cannot be changed, there are ways that you can reduce your risk of early labor. You can take control by:

  • Managing your weight– It is important to get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy. Obese women are more likely to have preterm pregnancies. Talk to your doctor about how much weight is normal to gain, and where you should be weight-wise throughout your pregnancy. 
  • Having a Healthy Diet- When you are pregnant, it is extremely important to get all of your daily nutrients within your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce premature birth, which can be found in foods such as cooked salmon, eggs, and walnuts. Add foods that are high in vitamin C, such as broccoli, oranges, and Brussels sprouts, because vitamin C has also been shown to reduce premature birth risks. 
  • Cigarettes piled on top of each other with a red no sign over them.
    Smoking increases the chances of having premture labor.

    Staying Hydrated– Drink water and stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to premature contractions. 

  • Getting Checked– Make sure any health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other issues are under control. 
  • Staying Active– Being active throughout your pregnancy will reduce your risk of conditions like preeclampsia and diabetes. 
  • Quitting Smoking– If it is hard to quit cold turkey, then nicotine replacement therapy can help. Although they aren’t the best option, it is better than smoking. 
  • Taking Prenatal Vitamins– Prenatal supplements will improve your odds of carrying full term. The folic acid in prenatals lower the risk of the placenta separating from the uterine wall and preeclampsia. 
  • Staying On Top Of Dental Care– Visit your dentist and make sure you are taking the proper measures to avoid gum disease. Brush and floss twice every day and see your dentist if you have any issues. 


Experiencing contractions or period-like cramps could be signs of premature labor. Change in vaginal discharge and fluid leaking from your vagina, similar to your water breaking, are also warning signs. If you experience any of these before the 37 weeks, then go to the hospital immediately. You will be hooked up to a fetal monitor to make sure the baby is not in distress, and an ultrasound will be given. If the tests show it is not time to give birth, then you will go 

Caucasian woman with a light blur robe ontouching a baby in a NICU basket
Babies born before 34 weeks will need to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for anywhere from days to months.

home and possibly be on bed rest. 

Babies born before 34 weeks will need to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for anywhere from days to months. If born between 34-37 weeks, there might be health conditions such as cerebral palsy or learning difficulties, but not necessarily. 

In order to prevent premature birth, you have to stay on top of any health conditions you have, eat a healthy diet, and maintain a healthy weight throughout pregnancy. Get checked often, and make sure to stay on track for both you and your baby’s health. If at any point you have fluid leaking or contractions before 40 weeks, go to the hospital.

Fitness Goals vs. Nutrition

America is currently in a love/hate relationship with food and our fitness goals. There is a tremendous amount of apps out there in regards to weight control. With the volume of nutrition programs, diet books, and health ads, we seem to be in a war with how to handle our bodies. Worse yet, we have an obesity epidemic. NCBI says, “The latest estimates are that approximately 34% of adults and 15–20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese.” That’s over a third of people.

What can we do? Science tells us food is the key to losing weight, gaining weight, or maintaining. What we eat (and when) are paramount to fitness. Of course, exercise is a major part of a balanced lifestyle. (On this note, try adding this to your workout.)  However, with certain fitness goals, you need to eat certain things.

What to Eat to Lose Weight 

There are so many diets available and each person needs to tailor their own weight loss plan. No two bodies are exactly alike.  One of my friends can eat Oreos by the sleeve and still has trouble keeping weight on, while another watches her diet, exercises, and continues to struggle. Your fitness goals don’t have to be a huge battle.

Studies tell us the surest path is just a numbers game. While it’s not fun, the best way to think about it is the food pyramid. It’s the one you’re probably familiar with from earlier nutrition classes.

food pyramid for your fitness goals
The food pyramid! Does this look familiar? It’s got the recommended allowance of food intake for maximum nutrition.

Just cut out the top and bottom, focusing on the center portion. This leaves you with a large portion of your nutrition focused in leafy greens, healthy meats, and dairy products. With these, be sure to choose whole foods because ones may contain inflammatory additives that, while delicious, may affect your health. A great diet for this if you need an idea is a Mediterranean diet. Another option is to be aware of your eating times; fasting has been studied more in recent years and has shown great results.

Sugars and starches are the main cause of inflammation, weight retention, and other health problems. Humans evolved for a specific diet, and recent years have provided a cornucopia of delicious, cheap, sugary-starch foods that have taken us away from what our bodies naturally need. Our bodies were just not made to handle that, and we haven’t caught up physically for this fierce influx of food that’s just not good for us in gargantuan amounts. In this case, fat is not the enemy; sugar is.

Focus: Whole foods, leafy greens, healthy portions of meat. Less oil, no sugars, no starches. Also, make sure to track your progression with body fat.

What to Eat to Gain Weight

If you’re on the opposite end and are working to gain weight, you may have an easier time with this. You’ll still have to follow some rules so that you’re putting on healthy weight instead of empty pounds. Start a food journal and set goals with what you’re consuming.

measuring food for losing weight
It doesn’t have to be a fight with food. Just be mindful of what works and what doesn’t.

The best way is by putting on muscle, lean or otherwise. The solid rules are to eat more small meals throughout the day and watch your alcohol intake. Your nutrition and fitness goals are more important than a quick buzz. Your friends will understand.

You can involve more of the food pyramid with gaining weight, eating from the entire selection. Of course, sugars and starches may be involved, but take care not to overindulge. Choose many high fat and protein foods like nuts or milk. Also, fill up with whole grains like oatmeal, or use rice. Smoothies/shakes can be helpful as well. Here’s a great resource for recipes and tips for those wanting to be healthier.

Focus: Use healthy protein shakes, dairy, nuts, and involve a good balance of the entire food pyramid. Find your body weight to grams of protein ratio. 

What to Eat to Maintain Weight

This diet is more of a lifestyle, and it includes elements of the first two. Reaching your goal weight is a short term path, but to maintain it, you must think long term.

fresh nutritious food for weight management
Your best bet is to stick with vegetables. Learn to eat a variety of beautiful, natural colors.

 Like the “losing weight” section, you must reduce sugars and starches in your diet, but you don’t have to eliminate them. When losing weight, that’s the goal, but if you’re maintaining, it’s fine to include them. The same goes for the “gaining weight” section, focus on filling up throughout the day with nutrient dense foods, but you don’t have to eat quite so much.

Keep a food journal (with a fitness goals section) so you’re aware of what’s going into your body and how it makes you feel. If you’re like my friends from earlier, you can inhale an entire sleeve of cookies and be okay weight-wise, but does that actually make you feel energized and happy? If it’s something you’re okay with, then eat what you’d like. Food should not be the enemy here, but a partner through the day. 

Focus: Be aware of the food you’re consuming. As long as you’re eating whole, nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, fish, and eggs, you can safely consume moderate amounts of sugar & starch. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed. 

Habits To Adapt For A Longer Life

Studies show that bad habits can age you almost 12 years and shorten your lifespan. These things are smoking, drinking, not exercising, and not eating healthier foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Making small changes in those categories can help you live a longer healthier life.

Less TV Time

Too much tv is bad for your health.
Too much tv is bad for your health. Can decrease lifespan.

A 2010 study found that people who watched TV for 4 hours or more a day were more likely to die from any cause than those who watched less than 2 hours a day. Each additional hour you watch increases your risk of dying by 11% and dying from heart disease by 18%. Too much TV can lead to adding weight due to being a couch potato and inactive.

Quit Smoking

The most important thing you can do for your health and others around is to quit smoking. It reduces your lifespan significantly and others around you who inhale the smoke. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that women who quit smoking by 35 added about 6-8 years to their lives. It is never too late to quit smoking, even if you have lung cancer or COPD.

More Fruits & Vegetables

Many people do not consume as many vegetables and fruits as they should in a day. But it is important to incorporate them into your diet every day because they can lower your risk of heart disease by 76%! Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation and boost circulation.

Limit Sun Exposure & Use SPF

Being out in the sun too much can lead to a high risk of skin cancer. Staying out of the sun will not only help protect your skin from cancer but reduce wrinkles, sagging skin, and fine lines, essentially keeping you looking younger. Make sure to use SPF when out in the sun to prevent skin damage.

Try to excercise 3-4 days a week.
Try to excercise 3-4 days a week. Eat healthy to fulfill your body with what it needs.

Stay Fit

In order to remain as young as possible, exercise is the key to this! Running and high-intensity exercises can add almost 4 years to your life! You can start out by just walking 30 minutes a day and work yourself up more. This will lower your risk of heart issued and help your mind function more effectively, and get your metabolism working better.

A Good Sex Life

Having sex 2-3 times a week can add as much as 3 years to your life by helping burn calories. A regular healthy sex life can lower your blood pressure, improve sleep, and boost your immune system.

All of these habits are achievable if you put a little time and effort every day, and remain conscious of your health.

New Year, New You, How To Get Started

It is officially 2019 and time to set some resolutions you intend to keep this year. First thing you should do is reflect on last year, then reflect on what you would like to change or do differently. This year set a goal on what is important to you and what you would like to change both physically, and mentally. Your new year’s resolution should be a priority so it does not get brushed under the rug after a short period of time. There are a number of different goals that are attainable for seniors to strive for this year. It does not take a lot of effort, just some time and motivation. Here are some resolutions that you can think about and take on!

Eat Healthier

This year make it a goal to try to eat more vegetables, and less sugar. Start off by making at least one meal a healthier one and add vegetables to others. Incorporate whole grains, fish, and healthy fats into your diet. Instead of reaching for a piece of pie after dinner, try a piece of dark chocolate or some fruit. They are satisfying and yummy alternatives.

You can learn to use technology so you can connect with friends anf family more often.
You can learn to use technology so you can connect with friends anf family more often.

A healthy diet will help you live longer and stronger.

Learn How To Use New Technology

Technology is always changing and evolving. It can be hard for some seniors to learn new gadgets, and social media outlets. This year try to take on something new, whether Facebook, or a smartphone. These outlets will help you stay connected to family and friends, and battle social isolation. If you need help figuring it out, ask family or friends.

Be Active

This resolution is one of the most popular ones every year. It is a good resolution to do, but the importance is to stick to it because it is often abandoned early. Start out slow and easy with something as simple as walking for 15 minutes. Yoga, and aqua aerobics are awesome workout routines that help stretch you and are low impact on your joints. Exercise will improve your blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, and increase your endurance.

Visit Your Grandkids More

Nothing is better than spending time with your grandchildren. The unconditional love you receive from them increases your mental health, and increases your life’s quantity and quality. This year try to stay connected with your grandkids on a regular basis. This will strengthen your bond, and keep you close. Make a date to see them at least once a week if you can, whether in person or via video chat.

Pick Up A Hobby

Pick up an old or new hobby this year. If there is a hobby that you used to love doing but lost the time for it, then get back to it. You can paint, knit, collect things, repurpose old things, etc. Whatever you would like to take on, consider it this year. It can be relaxing “me time” that you enjoy doing everyday.

Brain Games

Work your brain with some puzzles and brain games.
Work your brain with some puzzles and brain games.

In order to stay sharp and keep your brain strong, you must keep it as active as possible. Your brain needs a workout just like your body does. Crossword puzzles like sudoku, and brain teaser games can improve your cognitive skills, and reduce memory loss. You can do these kind of brain games, or try to learn new things like a new language. Try to keep your brain active this year so it can improve over time.

Try something new this year that will improve your life. Start out small and do not try to make drastic changes, otherwise you will give up. Have some fun this year, pick up a hobby, and increase your physical and mental health. Stay happy, and healthy this year.

Tips For Mental Wellness This Holiday Season

The holidays can bring on a lot of stress, accompanied with anxiety, and depression. This is known as the “holiday blues”. If you feel these blues, just know that you are not alone, because it can affect anyone at any age, and are mainly triggered by a life event. Not to mention the pressure to impress people with gifts, attend parties, and deal with family or toxic people contributes to the blues. The holidays are also a time that people remember those who are not there any longer to celebrate. Some things that one may feel, especially if they have mental health ailments, are fatigue, tension, frustration, loneliness, and sadness. But there are ways to tackle on the blues, and tips you can do to minimize the stress and depression.

In order to reduce stress theis holiday season, try to budget in advance and save money.
In order to reduce stress theis holiday season, try to budget in advance and save money.


It is okay to opt out of gift exchanges if your budget is tight. or if finances are a stressor for you. Instead of buying presents for everyone, ask them to donate to charity instead, create a homemade gift, or a low budget activity for you all to do. If traveling is too expensive for you, then ask family or friends to help pay for the ticket instead of giving you gifts. If you can not make it, then ask to skype, or FaceTime with the person, or persons so that you can still be a part of the festivities. Plan your budget in advance so you know what you can do.

It Is Okay To Say No

The seasons are a difficult time, especially when you commit to too many functions, or to unrealistic expectations. If you say yes to something when you should say no, it only causes a rush of overwhelming and resenting feelings. Our schedules are hectic enough with work, and limited time off. Do not try to be too many places at once, because then you can not enjoy the time. You will be too busy rushing to get to the next party, or worry about hosting your own. Go at your own pace, learn to say no. You can say no to some of the parties and choose to spend more quality times with the people you do choose to see. Prioritize and stick to your limits.

This also goes for family functions. If you are not comfortable about doing something or being around a toxic relative, then you do not have to. We all have that one or multiple toxic family member that always says something witty, and push the limit. Set boundaries with your family. If a toxic family member talks with you, then just remove

Spend some time focusing on you this holiday season. Listen to some music or so something for yourself.
Spend some time focusing on you this holiday season. Listen to some music or so something for yourself.

yourself from the conversation.

Get Some Me Time In

Take a breather from the busy schedule you have set and make time for yourself, Spend some time alone, whether it is to read a book, go for a walk, or listening to some music. Relax and refresh from everything you need to do so you can reduce stress.

Stay Healthy, Don’t Overindulge

Think about all the desserts and foods you will be eating and drinking during the holidays! While some of us can’t wait or stay away from the treats, it is important not to overindulge. Overindulging will cause you to feel bad about yourself and upset that you gained weight and lost self control. Get some exercise, even if it is a short walk. Allow yourself the time to be active, so that you can enjoy all the yummy treats. Try to have a healthy snack or meal before a party, and get a good night’s rest. This way you feel good about yourself and avoid added stress or guilt.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

Loneliness can be a problem for some people during the holidays. But you do not have to be lonely if you do not want to be. You can join a group, volunteer at a soup kitchen, go to community activities, and make new friends. Let your neighbors, friends, or coworkers know you will be alone and would like to get together.

It is okay to grieve those you have lost. Your family can remember them by looking at pictures together.
It is okay to grieve those you have lost. Your family can remember them by looking at pictures together.

Dealing With Loss

The loss of a loved one has a major impact on us during the holidays. It is okay to acknowledge the grief that accompanies the holidays. Take the opportunity to keep your loved one’s memory alive by continuing their tradition, looking at old pictures of them, and express your feelings.

Professional Help

If all else fails, and the feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety can not be shaken, then talk about it. Seek professional help from a doctor or mental health professional if you need to. It is not something to be ashamed of, because mental health is just as important as physical health.

Make the holidays an enjoyable time, instead of something dreadful. Use the helpful tips provided to prevent the holiday blues. Focus on you and realize your limitations, but more importantly, have some fun.