5 Fun Ways to Reduce Stress

For many of us, stress is a permanent part of our lives, and all too often, we feel consumed by the tension and anxiety. We don’t take the time to release or relieve stress as we should, or we use unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating or drinking too much. Suggestions for relieving stress sometimes aren’t much fun, so we thought we’d change that.

Sometimes feeling better is as simple as going back to an easier, more carefree time of life. Look below for some entertaining ways to release tension.

Dance, dance, dance!

Put on your favorite music (tunes from high school are a good choice), and dance like no one’s watching. Spin your kids or your spouse around, and feel yourself let loose. The more you release your inhibitions, the more you let go of tension and anxiety.

Sing, sing, sing!

Singing releases endorphins and helps you feel better, and you also breathe in more oxygen during each song. Belt it out at the top of your lungs if you wish! If you prefer, take it to the next level and go to a karaoke bar with some friends.

Make fun food.

What was your favorite food growing up? Which foods do you find completely silly? Whether it’s jello or grilled cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off, make some simple, fun food you love. Remember those simpler times, and feel the stress melt away.

Go outside and play.

What do you truly enjoy doing? We’re so engrossed in our daily lives that we forget how to have some good, clean fun. Playing doesn’t have to stop just because we’re adults. Do you enjoy roller skating or hula hooping? How about simply lying on a chaise in the back yard reading a book? Do something you enjoy but haven’t been able to do for a while.

Pamper yourself.

That could look like a massage, yoga, acupuncture, a pedicure and manicure, or spending a couple of hours in the bathtub with a good book. Decadent is the name of the game. Indulge yourself in luxury, and stress won’t dare to stick around.

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Healthier Ways to Make Your Favorite Winter Comfort Foods

comfort foodsAh, winter comfort foods—is anything better than curling up in a blanket and eating your favorite?

However, many comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and creamy stews and soups, are full of fat and calories we don’t need. Following are a few tips to reduce the fat and calories without sacrificing the taste and comfort you want.

Cut down the butter.

If a recipe calls for three tablespoons of butter, try using only two tablespoons (or less). Chances are you won’t notice a difference in taste. Using margarine presents its own problems, as most of them have hydrogenated oil you need to completely stay away from.

Try using lower-fat dairy products.

Instead of heavy cream, try using half-and-half, or use 2% milk instead of full-fat milk. Sour cream and cottage cheese come in low-fat varieties. You can find lower-fat cheeses, or use a smaller amount of high-quality cheese.

For some recipes, a lower-fat substitution might not work, but it’s certainly worth a try.

Reduce sugar by half.

While sugar doesn’t have that many calories, reducing it is always a good idea when trying to eat healthier. If you don’t like the taste with less sugar, try adding a little bit of honey.

Add more lean protein, fruit, and vegetables.

If you’re making a chicken potpie, use the leanest cuts of the chicken and add more vegetables. Try some broccoli, cauliflower, and beans.

Try pan-frying instead of deep-frying.

You’ll use less oil and have fewer calories. Try frying in olive oil or coconut oil for a change of taste. Taking the skin off will reduce fat, as will baking or oven-frying.

If all else fails, simply eat smaller portions, or make adjustments elsewhere in your diet.

If you can’t stand the way your mac ‘n cheese tastes with lower-fat substitutions, by all means, cook it the right way—just eat from a smaller bowl or plate. If you don’t want to do that, then plan your mac feast and eat less during the other meals of the day.

What do you do to reduce the fat and calories in your comfort foods?