Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How to Conquer Stress Quickly and Effectively

stress reduction tips, self-care for stress

Stress is inescapable, but learning how to conquer it may be the best self-care goal you initiate and achieve this month, week, or day.

Post updated 5/26/22

Ideas in this post are intended to help you identify your daily stressors, and see them as challenges instead of obstacles. 

Look below to discover powerful self-care practices that are known to zap stress in the bud. Try each one on for size, and choose those that resonate with you. Just know, all can restore physical, mental, and emotional energy lost to stress.

1. Identify your stressors. Learn what triggers tension, anxiety, and unease. Do you agonize about family or personal relationship issues, stew about work related dissatisfaction or job insecurity, feel frantic about a lack of money or debt, or suffer from poor self-image or low self-esteem

Self-care activities and tips

When you practice noticing how often your default setting is negativity and worst case scenario, you're taking the first step in replacing this habit, with more effective coping skills. 

Stressed in America, a post from the Psychological Association of America's Website describes long-term stress more fully, so read it to learn details. 

2. Let go of what you can't control. Affirm you are powerless over every other person, place, or thing in your life. Tell yourself that no amount of worry or obsession about someone else's actions or thinking will help you figure out how to change them. 

Reverting to a fearful place is an old pattern, and waste of your precious time. 

Serenity Prayer at Colors 4 Health

Here's "A Visualization for Letting Things Go You Can't Change," a piece by Dr. Tammy Lenski to get off on the right foot.

3. Make Sleep a Priority. Sleep deprivation makes you more susceptible to stress. Go to sleep at a consistent time every night and try to get from 7-8 hrs. a sleep a night. More about good sleep habits from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.

stress reduction tips, self-care for stress

Plan to squeeze in a little extra shut-eye when you need it, and take a 5-10 minute power nap or even a siesta. A 30 minute snooze can boost energy, bring clarity to thinking, and prevent you from becoming groggy or affect your nighttime sleep.

4. Just say no. Say no to those things you do, if the only reason you do them is out of obligation. People pleasing gives you less time for those things that bring you joy. 

Before you agree to take on a new project or buy a new thing say, "I need time to consider that" or "I'll get back to you on that." When you give yourself a chance to pause, you quickly take control of your choice to plan your response. Prevent overextending yourself or your budget by not giving in to doing things your self-preservation instinct feels uncomfortable doing.

5. Watch what you eat. Hunger can worsen your stress level. Don't skip meals, and keep healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand. A few minutes of food prep planning can help you avoid grabbing high-sugar or high fat snack foods.

Healthful snack foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, and other plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, and whole grains. Stave off cravings for unhealthy foods, by eating an watermelon, apple, orange, banana, peach, celery, carrots, spoon of peanut butter, or veggie smoothie. Nutrient-rich foods including those mentioned above, work to satisfy hunger and elevate your mood.

6. Breathe deeply. Do you get stressed waiting at the drive up line for your morning coffee or feel drained just thinking of how many tasks you have to do? 

stress reduction tips, self-care for stress

Take slow deep breaths and count to thirty. Deep slow breathing prevents anxiety and works to release built up tension anywhere in your body or mind. Specific instructions for deep body breathing is as simple as a, b, and c.

a. Sit comfortably or recline. Next, place one hand on your stomach and place your other hand over your heart.

b. Inhale slowly until you feel your stomach rise. Hold your breath for a moment.

c. Exhale slowly. Feel your stomach fall. Repeat until you feel calm and more relaxed.

7. Enjoy regular exercise. Walking, especially in a natural setting, is an easy, economical way to reduce stress

If you prefer, take part in a sport solo or with family or friends. Do any activity that you like including bike riding, yoga, hiking, baseball, tennis, or ballroom dancing. When you do something you find interesting or fun, it can make the time fly by and rev up your engine as well. 

stress reduction tips, self-care for stress

When your body, mind, or spirit feels uptight, stretch at your desk, or climb a flight of stairs instead of eating that donut. 

Research from the Anxiety & Depression Association of America shows that exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness and reducing stress. 

Exercise reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

8. Take a Play/Self-care Break. Find a hobby or pastime that makes you feel lighthearted and just do it for 5-10 minutes, either before or after you feel stressed out. 

Laugh and smile often. Laughter has proven to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase "good" HDL cholesterol. 

Stress Reduction Tips at Colors 4 Health

According to  Harvard Health Publishing, studies show laughter is good for heart health. 💝

Additional Reading

Before you go, please comment below. What self-care habits work to manage stress for you? 

Would you like to set the intention to conquer stress this month, week, or today and why?

What areas do you still need to work on to eliminate underlying issues? 

This post is not intended as medical or mental health advice, and is presented for your information only. 

"If you are unable to reduce your stress or prevent future stressful episodes despite your best efforts, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health specialist who treats anxiety and stress." Quote from Healthline.

Wishing you a happy low stress season, and many moments where you make the decision to self-care more and stress less.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Eat Beans: Amazing Plant Protein Powerhouse

Bean Facts, Recipes, and Ideas

Want a delicious meal that’s filling, easy to make, healthful, and saves you money? Bean dishes are a powerhouse of plant-based protein, fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium.

This post has been updated 3/24/2022

There are dozens of varieties of beans, and each comes from seeds of one of the genera of the flowering plant family Fabaceae.

Beans and legumes (pulses) must be cooked thoroughly, so allow ample time to cook them. Here are step by step directions for cooking dried beans.

Organic dried beans cost less, are more flavorful, and have a creamier consistency that most canned ones. 

If you're short on time, use canned beans that are packaged in BPA free cans. 

Research shows people who incorporate pulses in their daily eating plan are 22% less likely to be obese, versus people who don’t eat them. 

Bean consumption is associated with greater nutrient intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, and lower body weight. 

Beans are naturally low in saturated fat, when they are cooked without oil, lard, or butter. 

Beans star in many ethnic recipes and vegan dishes including tacos, black bean soup, soba noodle stir fry with beans and greensnachos, bean burgers, and hummus.

Vegan Recipes, Serving Ideas at Colors 4 Health

Beans are healthful, economical, and a more eco-friendly source of protein than meat or dairy.

Look below to see 2 of my favorite bean recipes to get you into a "beany frame of mind."

Creamy, Vegan White Bean, Garlic, and Ginger Salad Dressing
Creamy, Vegan White Bean, Garlic, and Ginger Dressinglad Dressing


1- 15 oz. can organic Cannellini or Great Northern Beans

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic chopped

1 chunk fresh ginger peeled (about 1 inch round) chopped

a sprig of fresh basil chopped

freshly ground black pepper

Optional seasoning: parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, or any spice you like. I often select a combo of a pinch of turmeric and one of black pepper for cancer prevention and anti-inflammatory effect.

What to do:
1. Blend all ingredients (including optional seasonings) in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.

2. If the consistency is thicker than you like, slowly add drops of water or lemon juice. Blend again. Then, correct seasoning. Use immediately or refrigerate and use within 5-7 days.

This oil-free dressing is appetizing on salads, sandwiches, and as a sauce on fresh steamed veggies. Beans made this way are creamy, taste decadent, yet add no empty calories.

Bean Facts, Recipes, and Ideas

Next up is

Vegan Chili: Easy, Flavorful, and Protein Rich

Bean Facts, Recipes, and Ideas

The lively flavor of this recipe comes from basic pantry ingredients including beans, vegetables, and spices. This dish is simple and inexpensive to make, gluten free, and loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, and spicy goodness.

Feel free to use any variety of beans you like. Leave out or add additional vegetables or seasonings, and discover how adaptable and forgiving this chili dish can be. 


1 medium yellow or red organic onion chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic chopped

1 organic red pepper chopped

2 organic carrots chopped

1- 15 oz. can organic Black Beans, 1- 15 oz. can organic Kidney Beans, one can organic Pinto Beans or select 3 cans of any beans you have on hand(drain and rinse beans)

Food Tip: I use organic ingredients whenever they are available. Organic fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans and legumes taste better, don't pollute our planet or our bodies, the nutrient count is higher than conventional products, and they are not genetically modified. More reasons here.

1 small can organic chopped tomatoes (BPA free can) with juice

1 small can sliced or chopped organic mushrooms (drained and rinsed)

1 bag (1lb) frozen organic corn kernels 

1-2 jalapeño peppers (use gloves to take out the seeds and cut in half, then chop fine). Omit this ingredient, if you like a milder chili. Use a few teaspoons of mild salsa instead.

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup water

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice 

4 teaspoons gluten free low sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 in. knob fresh ginger peeled and grated

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Optional seasoning: parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, or any spice you like. I always include a combo of a pinch of turmeric and one of black pepper. This combo has anti-inflammatory benefits.

What to do:

1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, put in chopped onion and sauté dry over medium heat until soft (about 2 minutes). Add chopped garlic, red bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, and stir. 

Continue to sauté for 2 more minutes. If necessary add a drop of water at a time to prevent food from sticking. 

2. Add chili powder, cumin, half to a whole (depending on how hot you like it) jalapeño pepper finely chopped, and optional seasonings. Stir until fragrant, which should take approximately 1 minute.

3. Add three cans of beans, 1/2 cup water combined with low sodium soy sauce, and bay leaf. If you're using cooked dried beans, use approximated 4 1/2 cups cooked dried beans.

4. Let the mixture come to a simmer (covered). Add diced canned tomatoes. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes. 

Bean Facts, Recipes, and Ideas

5. Add corn kernels and lemon or lime juice and cook 5-7 minutes more until corn is tender. Correct seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste. Remove chili from the heat.

6. Plate and garnish with lime slices, cilantro sprigs, avocado or guacamole, red onion, red radish, or any fresh green you have available.

7. Serve with steamed brown rice, and a tossed green salad with creamy white bean vegan garlic and ginger salad dressing. 😋

Bean Facts, Recipes, and Ideas
This photo shows vegan bean chili mixed with brown rice

Relax and have fun in the kitchen. This simple to prepare recipe yields 4 large or 6 moderate servings, and contains approximately 10 g of protein in every portion. 

Leftovers make a great snack. If you prefer, freeze chili for up to three months. When you crave chili again, defrost and heat for an easy to prepare meal.

It's been great sharing bean tips and ideas with you, and I appreciate feedback and comments. 

What bean dishes do you favor? Please comment below. Do you eat beans because of their good taste, excellent nutrition, or both?

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I post on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please add to your online reading list. I offer wellness and color tips at the place where a healthy lifestyle and colors intersect.

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