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6 Tips to Lower Your Stress

Posted 04-07-2014 05:09 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 04-08-2014 05:22 PM by ChristaIB

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If mounting bills, childcare, work deadlines, school, household chores, relationships and other day-to-day stressors have you frazzled, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are dealing with some form of stress every day, and as researchers continue to study and release findings on the negative health impacts caused by long-term, chronic stress — including depression, anxiety, heart disease, sleep disorders, weight gain, digestive issues and cognitive malfunction — it is becoming more and more important that we find ways to reduce the amount of stress we come into contact with.

Follow these simple stress-management techniques each day, and you can lower your stress level and improve your overall health at the same time.

1. Deep Breathing

Wherever you are, adjust your posture so that you are sitting upright, then close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Slowly and deeply inhale through your nose. Hold that breath for a brief moment before exhaling through pursed lips. Continue until you feel your heart rate getting slower. This technique takes stress off of the cardiovascular system by lowering your blood pressure.

2. Exercise

You don’t have to become a body builder to experience the positive effects that exercise has on stress. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, step aerobics, jumping rope and swimming, help reduce circulating stress hormones in the body. In addition, exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the body’s “feel good” hormones.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Chronic stress leads to illness. It is during sleep that the body has a chance to catch up with the stress from the day, build up its immunity and repair itself for the next day. Additionally, sleeping will rejuvenate and refresh you, increasing your ability to keep stress in perspective and deal with the stress in a positive way. Ideally, you should go to bed at the same time each night, wake up at the same time each morning and get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

4. Take Time Out

Sometimes you just need a break! Allow yourself 10 minutes to take a time-out during the day. Don’t use this time to catch up on your to-do list or plan meals for the week. Instead, use this time to take a brisk walk or bike ride, get outside for fresh air, talk to a friend, listen to a couple of upbeat songs, practice yoga or do a crossword puzzle. Giving yourself permission to take a short break will boost your mental energy, reducing building levels of stress.

5. Celebrate What's Going Right

When nothing seems to be going right and you’re feeling overly stressed, take a moment to celebrate the things that are going right. Make a list of the things that make you happy, whether it be your kids, your spouse, a pet, a beloved friend or a hobby.

6. Laugh More

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Laughter lowers stress hormones and triggers endorphins, which has a great effect on the body’s well-being. It also boosts immunity, wards off infection and disease, eases anxiety, improves mood and so much more! Surround yourself with positive friends and family and make time to participate in activities that make you smile and laugh, such as karaoke, bowling, attending a comedy show or simply hosting a game night.

Stressful events cannot always be avoided, so when they do occur, it is critical that we take steps to keep them from becoming a constant nuisance in our lives. By managing your stress, you can improve your healthy and quality of life.

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