Stress Awareness Day is a great opportunity to take a moment to think about our well-being and find advice or support on stress management.
People can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives. Here are some tips to help you
- Keep a positive attitude.
- Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi for stress management.
- Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Learn to manage your time more effectively.
- Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life.
- Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation.
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or compulsive behaviors to reduce stress.
- Seek out social support. Spend enough time with those you enjoy.
- Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.
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How Does Stress Affect Health?
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive- such as a getting a job promotion or being given greater responsibilities – keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative (“distress”) when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.
Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the pressure and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.
Breathing to cope with stress management
Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine.
Before you get started, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair.
- Don’t force it. This can make you feel overwhelmed.
- Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
Many breathing exercises take only a few minutes. When you have more time, you can do them for 10 minutes or more to get even greater benefits.
Most people take short, shallow breaths into their chest. It can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. With this technique, you’ll learn how to take bigger breaths, all the way into your belly.
- Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.
- Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
- Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.