5 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

in Health & Wellness

Are you feeling worried or angry? Irritable or depressed? Are you unable to focus? You may find that you are suffering from stress.

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Are you feeling worried or angry? Irritable or depressed? Are you unable to focus? You may find that you are suffering from stress.

Stress can affect not only your mind but your body. Stress can manifest itself in headaches, back pain, weight gain or loss, tense muscles, upset stomach and more.

According to the National Psychological Association, stress occurs when the demands placed on a person – such as at work, school or in relationships – exceeds your capacity to cope. While everyone experiences some level of stress at times, an extreme amount of stress can have adverse health consequences that impact your immune, cardiovascular, central nervous system and more. It can take a severe, and long-lasting emotional toll.

The psychological association, as well as most health practitioners, recommend finding healthy positive ways to manage your stress. In many cases, finding an outlet for your stress can help reduce negative health consequences.

According to the National Psychological Association, research shows that some techniques can help decrease a person’s stress in the short- and long-term.

If you’re feeling stressed, consider these ideas:

  1. Take a break from whatever is making you stressed. Most people would acknowledge that it’s hard to take a major break from the demands of work, or the multi-tasking of parenting, or the pressures of schoolwork. But mental health professionals giving yourself permission to step away from whatever is stressing you, even for a few minutes. Take time to do something else, or work on getting a new perspective so you don’t feel as overwhelmed. While you can’t ignore your stress altogether, it may help you to just have a few minutes away from the pressure.
  2. Exercise. Exercise isn’t just for the benefit of your body anymore. Most mental health professionals will encourage regular exercise or activity to strengthen your mind as much as your body. Taking 20 minutes to walk, or dance, or ride a bike can ease worries, release tension and settle you down enough to get to whatever task might be causing stress.
  3. Smile and laugh. You may realize the truth of what’s troubling you when people mention, “You look stressed.” Stress can exhibit itself in your face, body posture and mood. Laughing, smiling and find time for joy can usually release that stress and tension.
  4. · Get help. Getting help doesn’t necessarily always mean seeing a professional. You can get help from your social network by calling a friend or sending an email. Just letting someone know about the burden of your stress may ease how you feel. Find someone you trust, who can understand what you’re going through and offer supportive words. The National Psychological Association advises that if it’s your family or your coworker, that’s causing you stress, you might consider reaching out to someone else to unburden yourself.
  5. Meditate. More and more people are practicing the concept of “mindfulness.” The therapeutic technique is used in schools and worksites to help people focus their awareness on the present, becoming open to new perspectives, developing self-compassion and forgiving one’s self. By being mindful, or taking time to meditate, a person can often release emotions that may have been causing stress.

There are many options available for people hoping to find ways to decrease stress in their lives. Some people find that using essential oils may provide a sense of release or positivity. Others take breaks from social media or electronics. You may want to find a book with thoughtful poems, or meditative phrases or passages to read. For some people, listening to music, dancing or even napping can give a sense of peace, and offer some moments free of stress.

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Author: Ann S. Bockius, MFT, Marriage/Family Therapist

Ann S. Bockius was licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 1990. She works primarily with families, parents and children ages 2 to 18. She previously worked for eight years as a preschool teacher and director and for seven years as a Parent Co-Op Preschool director.

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