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How to eliminate stress

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s response to a challenge or demand. Everyone experiences stress, which can be triggered by a range of events, from small daily hassles to major changes like a divorce or job loss. The stress response includes physical components such an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, thoughts and personal beliefs about the stressful event, and emotions, including fear and anger. Although we often think of it as being negative, stress can also come from positive changes in your life, like getting a promotion at work or having a new baby.

How can we handle stress in healthy ways?

Stress serves an important purpose—it enables us to respond quickly to threats and avoid danger. However, lengthy exposure to stress may lead to mental health difficulties (for example, anxiety and depression) or increased physical health problems. A large body of research suggests that increased stress levels interfere with your ability to deal with physical illness. While no one can avoid all stress, you can work to handle it in healthy ways that increase your potential to recover.

  1. Eat and drink to optimize your health. Some people try to reduce stress by drinking alcohol or eating too much. These actions may seem to help in the moment, but actually may add to stress in the long run. Caffeine also can compound the effects of stress. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet can help to combat stress.
  2. Exercise regularly. In addition to having physical health benefits, exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Consider non-competitive aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights, or movement activities like yoga or Tai Chi, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins—natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.
  3. Stop using tobacco and nicotine products. People who use nicotine often refer to it as a stress reliever. However, nicotine actually places more stress on the body by increasing physical arousal and reducing blood flow and breathing.
  4. Study and practice relaxation techniques. Taking the time to relax every day helps to manage stress and to protect the body from the effects of stress. You can choose from a variety of techniques, such as deep breathing, imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation. There are many online and smart phone apps that provide guidance on these techniques; although some entail purchase costs, many are available free of charge.
  5. Reduce triggers of stress. If you are like most people, your life may be filled with too many demands and too little time. For the most part, these demands are ones we have chosen. You can free up time by practicing time-management skills like asking for help when it’s appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and reserving time to take care of yourself.
  6. Examine your values and live by them. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. Use your values when choosing your activities.
  7. Assert yourself. It’s okay to say “No” to demands on your time and energy that will place too much stress on you. You don’t have always have to meet the expectations of others.
  8. Set realistic goals and expectations. It’s okay—and healthy—to realize you cannot be 100% successful at everything all at once. Be mindful of the things you can control and work on accepting the things that you can’t control.
  9. Sell yourself to yourself. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Have a healthy sense of self-esteem.

There are several other methods you can use to relax or reduce stress, including:

  • Deep breathing exercises.
  • Meditation.
  • Mindfulness meditation.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Mental imagery relaxation.
  • Relaxation to music.
  • Biofeedback (explained below).
  • Counseling, to help you recognize and release stress.

Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these techniques or other suggestions.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback helps a person learn stress reduction skills by providing information about muscle tension, heart rate, and other vital signs as a person attempts to relax. It is used to gain control over certain bodily functions that cause tension and physical pain.

Biofeedback can be used to help you learn how your body responds in stressful situations, and how to cope better. If a headache, such as a migraine, begins slowly, many people can use biofeedback to stop the attack before it becomes full- blown.

What to do if you have trouble sleeping

You may experience insomnia (an inability to sleep) because of discomfort, stress from personal concerns, or side effects from your medications. If you cannot sleep, try these tips:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Make sure your bed and surroundings are comfortable. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Don’t work or watch TV in your bedroom.
  • Avoid napping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with periods of rest.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner, or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Do not rely on sleeping pills. They can be harmful when taken with other medications. Use them only if recommended for a brief period by your healthcare provider if other non-medication methods don’t work.
  • Take diuretics, or “water pills,” earlier if possible, so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don’t stay in bed worrying about when you’re going to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine, but don’t exercise within two to three hours before the time you go to bed.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/12/2020.

References

  • National Institute of Mental Health: 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml) Accessed 11/18/2021.
  • American Heart Association. Stress Management. (https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/health-conditions/heart-health/manage-stress) Accessed 11/18/2021.
  • US Department of Health & Human Services. Get Enough Sleep. (http://www.healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationship/get-enough-sleep) Accessed 11/18/2021.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

In this Article

  • 1.Exercise
  • 2.Relax Your Muscles
  • 3.Deep Breathing
  • 4.Eat Well
  • 5.Slow Down
  • 6.Take a Break
  • 7.Make Time for Hobbies
  • 8.Talk About Your Problems
  • 9.Go Easy On Yourself
  • 10.Eliminate Your Triggers

These days it’s hard not to get overwhelmed once in a while. Between juggling work, family, and other commitments, you can become too stressed out and busy. But you need to set time aside to unwind or your mental and physical health can suffer.

Learning how to manage your stress takes practice, but you can — and need to — do it. Here are 10 ways to make it easier.

1.Exercise

Working out regularly is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. Plus, exercise will improve your mood. But you have to do it often for it to pay off.

So how much should you exercise every week?

Work up to 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise like brisk walks or 75 minutes of a more vigorous exercise like swimming laps, jogging or other sports.

Focus on setting fitness goals you can meet so you don’t give up. Most of all remember that doing any exercise is better than none at all.

2.Relax Your Muscles

When you’re stressed, your muscles get tense. You can help loosen them up on your own and refresh your body by:

  • Stretching
  • Enjoying a massage
  • Taking a hot bath or shower
  • Getting a good night’s sleep

3.Deep Breathing

Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off you right away. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel once you get good at it. Just follow these 5 steps:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor. Or you can lie down.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Imagine yourself in a relaxing place. It can be on the beach, in a beautiful field of grass, or anywhere that gives you a peaceful feeling.
  4. Slowly take deep breaths in and out.
  5. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

4.Eat Well

Eating a regular, well-balanced diet will help you feel better in general. It may also help control your moods. Your meals should be full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein for energy. And don’t skip any. It’s not good for you and can put you in a bad mood, which can actually increase your stress.

5.Slow Down

Modern life is so busy, and sometimes we just need to slow down and chill out. Look at your life and find small ways you can do that. For example:

  • Set your watch 5 to 10 minutes ahead. That way you’ll get places a little early and avoid the stress of being late.
  • When you’re driving on the highway, switch to the slow lane so you can avoid road rage.
  • Break down big jobs into smaller ones. For example, don’t try to answer all 100 emails if you don’t have to — just answer a few of them.

6.Take a Break

You need to plan on some real downtime to give your mind time off from stress. If you’re a person who likes to set goals, this may be hard for you at first. But stick with it and you’ll look forward to these moments. Restful things you can do include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Prayer
  • Listening to your favorite music
  • Spending time in nature

7.Make Time for Hobbies

You need to set aside time for things you enjoy. Try to do something every day that makes you feel good, and it will help relieve your stress. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time — even 15 to 20 minutes will do. Relaxing hobbies include things like:

  • Reading
  • Knitting
  • Doing an art project
  • Playing golf
  • Watching a movie
  • Doing puzzles
  • Playing cards and board games

8.Talk About Your Problems

If things are bothering you, talking about them can help lower your stress. You can talk to family members, friends, a trusted clergyman, your doctor, or a therapist.

And you can also talk to yourself. It’s called self-talk and we all do it. But in order for self-talk to help reduce stress you need to make sure it’s positive and not negative.

So listen closely to what you’re thinking or saying when you’re stressed out. If you’re giving yourself a negative message, change it to a positive one. For example, don’t tell yourself “I can’t do this.” Tell yourself instead: “I can do this,” or “I’m doing the best I can.”

9.Go Easy On Yourself

Accept that you can’t do things perfectly no matter how hard you try. You also can’t control everything in your life. So do yourself a favor and stop thinking you can do so much. And don’t forget to keep up your sense of humor. Laughter goes a long way towards making you feel relaxed.

10.Eliminate Your Triggers

Figure out what are the biggest causes of stress in your life. Is it your job, your commute, your schoolwork? If you’re able to identify what they are, see if you’re able to eliminate them from your life, or at least reduce them.

If you can’t identify the main causes of your stress, try keeping a stress journal. Make note of when you become most anxious and see if you can determine a pattern, then find ways to remove or lessen those triggers.

Show Sources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress.”

American Heart Association: “Four Ways to Deal With Stress.”

If you’re stressed, whether by your job or something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause.

The most unhelpful thing you can do is turn to something unhealthy to help you cope, such as smoking or drinking.

“In life, there’s always a solution to a problem,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster.

“Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”

He says the keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook.

What you can do to address stress

These are Professor Cooper’s top 10 stress-busting suggestions:

Be active

Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you deal with your problems more calmly.

Take control

There’s a solution to any problem. “If you remain passive, thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about my problem’, your stress will get worse,” says Professor Cooper.

“That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.”

The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.

Connect with people

A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.

“If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help,” says Professor Cooper.

The activities we do with friends help us relax. We often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.

“Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,” says Professor Cooper.

Have some ‘me time’

Here in the UK, we work the longest hours in Europe, meaning we often don’t spend enough time doing things we really enjoy.

“We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,” says Professor Cooper.

He recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work.

“By earmarking those 2 days, it means you won’t be tempted to work overtime,” he says.

Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps build confidence. This will help you deal with stress.

“By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person,” says Professor Cooper.

“It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV all the time.”

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping.

“Men more than women are likely to do this. We call this avoidance behaviour,” says Professor Cooper. “Women are better at seeking support from their social circle.”

In the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones.

“It’s like putting your head in the sand,” says Professor Cooper. “It might provide temporary relief, but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress.”

Help other people

Professor Cooper says evidence shows that people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, become more resilient.

“Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cooper. “The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel.”

If you don’t have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues.

Work smarter, not harder

Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that’ll make a real difference.

“Leave the least important tasks to last,” says Cooper. “Accept that your in-tray will always be full. Don’t expect it to be empty at the end of the day.”

Try to be positive

Look for the positives in life, and things for which you’re grateful.

“People don’t always appreciate what they have,” says Professor Cooper. “Try to be glass half full instead of glass half empty,” he says.

Try writing down 3 things that went well, or for which you’re grateful, at the end of every day.

Audio: unhelpful thinking

In this audio guide, a doctor helps you to replace negative thoughts with more positive thinking.

Accept the things you can’t change

Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.

“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.

“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”

Audio: sleep problems

In this audio guide, a doctor explains what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep.

More in Guides, tools and activities

Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2021

Monday 12 March 2018

How to eliminate stress

Feeling stressed? Take ten minutes to try one of the below activities and decrease your stress levels.

1. Exercise

It’s a cliché for a reason: exercise really does prompt your body to release feel-good hormones like endorphins, which can help you to feel less stressed. Stress can also make you subconsciously tense your muscles, which exercise might help to release.

It doesn’t have to be a full workout: walk around the block, do 20 jumping jacks, go for a quick run or find a 10 minute yoga flow on YouTube to follow.

2. Organise

Stress can kick in when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks that need to be done or deadlines that must be met. Writing a to-do list or time management strategy can help you focus on seeing each task through to completion.

Sit down and write out everything you need to get done and each step you’ll need to take to complete each task. Prioritise what must be done first and identify what can be left to a later time or what you might be able to assign to someone else. Be realistic about how much time it will take you to complete each task and build space into your schedule to reward yourself for getting the job done.

How to eliminate stress

3. Breathe

Stress and anxiety can affect how you breathe, which has flow-on effects on how your body and mind feels. Taking a few deep breaths can help slow your breathing and heart rate, relax your muscles and calm your mind.

Follow Anxiety Australia’s guide to slowing down anxious breathing, or head to xhalr.com, which has a visual breathing tool to help you easily calm your breath.

4. Take a time out

You’re not a toddler, but that doesn’t mean a time out doesn’t apply when you’re stressed.

Just like in children, stress can affect our emotions and how we behave, as well as our physical and mental health. Stress might make you become irritable or short tempered, easily upset or agitated.

When you start noticing that stress is affecting how you feel or behave, it might be time to step away and spend a few minutes just focusing on yourself. Do something you enjoy like reading a book or listening to music, or find a trusted friend or colleague that you can talk to about how you’re feeling.

Time outs don’t have to just be reactive: proactively build some ‘you time’ into your schedule each week, allowing yourself to do something enjoyable whilst looking after your health.

How to eliminate stress

5. Meditate

If you haven’t tried mindfulness, meditation or relaxation exercises yet, there’s no better time to start. Scientifically proven to help decrease and manage stress, and promote mental wellbeing, these tools are useful for when you’re experiencing stress and as prevention tools in times when you’re feeling well.

There are many programs, websites, books and apps to help you practise these exercises, including the free resources linked below.

Why you should decrease stress

While a little bit of stress is normal and can actually help you function more effectively during times of pressure, ongoing stress is not good for your physical or mental health. From causing headaches and sleep loss to affecting hormonal function, blood pressure and relationships, there are many reasons why experts are warning of the ill-effects the current ‘epidemic of stress’ is having on public health.

While it’s not a realistic goal to plan to dodge all stress, proactively doing the activities above can help you avoid unnecessary stress and handle stress better when it hits.

When you should get help

Ongoing stress affects your mental health and can be worth a trip to the doctor. You should see your GP if you’ve been feeling unwell or ‘not yourself’ for two weeks or more. Remember: you don’t need to wait for a crisis situation to seek help for mental health.

If you feel like the situation is an emergency or that your or someone else’s life is in danger, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

More information

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The Basics: Overview

Not all stress is bad. But long-term stress can lead to health problems.

Preventing and managing long-term stress can lower your risk for other conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.

You can prevent or reduce stress by:

  • Planning ahead
  • Deciding which tasks to do first
  • Preparing for stressful events

Some stress is hard to avoid. You can find ways to manage stress by:

  • Noticing when you feel stressed
  • Taking time to relax
  • Getting active and eating healthy
  • Talking to friends and family

The Basics: Signs and Health Effects

What are the signs of stress?

When you’re under stress, you may feel:

  • Worried
  • Angry
  • Irritable
  • Depressed
  • Unable to focus

Stress also affects your body. Physical signs of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Tense muscles
  • Frequent or more serious colds

The Basics: Causes of Stress

What causes stress?

Stress is how the body reacts to a challenge or demand.

Change is often a cause of stress. Even positive changes, like having a baby or getting a job promotion, can be stressful.

Stress can be short-term or long-term.

Common causes of short-term stress:

  • Needing to do a lot in a short amount of time
  • Having a lot of small problems in the same day, like getting stuck in traffic jam or running late
  • Getting ready for a work or school presentation
  • Having an argument

Common causes of long-term stress:

  • Having problems at work or at home
  • Having money problems
  • Having a long-term illness
  • Taking care of someone with an illness
  • Dealing with the death of a loved one

The Basics: Benefits of Lower Stress

What are the benefits of managing stress?

Over time, long-term stress can lead to health problems. Managing stress can help you:

  • Sleep better
  • Control your weight
  • Get sick less often
  • Feel better faster when you do get sick
  • Have less muscle tension
  • Be in a better mood
  • Get along better with family and friends

Take Action: Plan and Prepare

You can’t always avoid stress, but you can take steps to deal with stress in a positive way. Follow these tips for preventing and managing stress.

Being prepared and feeling in control of your situation might help lower your stress.

Plan your time.

Think ahead about how you’re going to use your time. Write a to-do list and figure out what’s most important — then do that thing first. Be realistic about how long each task will take.

Prepare yourself.

Prepare ahead for stressful events like a hard conversation with a loved one. You can:

  • Picture what the room will look like and what you’ll say
  • Think about different ways the conversation could go — and how you could respond
  • Have a plan for ending the conversation early if you need time to think

Take Action: Relax

Relax with deep breathing or meditation.

Deep breathing and meditation can help relax your muscles and clear your mind. You can:

Relax your muscles.

Stress causes tension in your muscles. Try stretching or taking a hot shower to help you relax. Check out these stretches you can do.

Take Action: Get Active

Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage stress . It can also help relax your muscles and improve your mood. So get active:

  • Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — try going for a bike ride or taking a walk
  • Do strengthening activities — like push-ups or lifting weights — at least 2 days a week

Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none!

Read more about:

Take Action: Food and Alcohol

Eat healthy.

Give your body plenty of energy by eating healthy — including vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. Get tips for healthy eating.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Avoid using alcohol or other drugs to manage stress. If you choose to drink, drink only in moderation. This means:

  • 1 drink or less in a day for women
  • 2 drinks or less in a day for men

Take Action: Get Support

Talk to friends and family.

Tell your friends and family if you’re feeling stressed. They may be able to help. Learn how friends and family can help you feel less stressed.

Get help if you need it.

Stress is a normal part of life. But if your stress doesn’t go away or keeps getting worse, you may need help. Over time, stress can lead to serious problems like depression or anxiety.

  • If you’re feeling down or hopeless, talk with your doctor about depression
  • If you’re feeling anxious, find out how to get help for anxiety
  • If you’ve lived through a traumatic event (like a major accident, crime, or natural disaster), find out about treatment for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder

A mental health professional (like a psychologist or social worker) can help treat these conditions with talk therapy (called psychotherapy) or medicine. Learn more about talk therapy.

Finally, keep in mind that lots of people need help dealing with stress — it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Content last updated June 10, 2021

Reviewer Information

This information on stress management was adapted from materials from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Office on Women’s Health.

Reviewed by:
Natalie Zeigler
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health

You have a term paper due, issues with family and friends, and several tasks to juggle at work. Everyone goes through stressful times; however, knowing how to manage stress is important.

Take a look at these ten tips to reduce stress:

1) Mediate for 5+ minutes every day
Adjust your posture to sit with your back (or spine) straight up. You may sit on the floor or on a chair. Try to clear your mind of all problems. Try to overcome any emotions by relaxing your body, muscles, and mind. Count to up to five slowly and then count down to five slowly. Take deep breaths throughout your mediation session. Make sure you mediate in a quite environment. Click here to listen to a ten minute guided meditation.

2) Eat Healthy
Nutritious food fuels your body and mind! Load up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Get your heart pumping! Go for a walk, play basketball, dance!

4) Take a Warm Shower or Bath
You can add essential oils to your bath to relax even more.

5) Drink Herbal Tea
A hot cup of herbal tea is a great way to start or end your day. Try chamomile or mint. Sweeten with honey.

6) Get a Massage
Can’t afford a professional massage therapist? Ask a friend or family member to rub your shoulders and neck for a couple of minutes to release tension.

7) Sleep
Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Take short naps (no longer than 30 minutes) to reenergize yourself during the day.

8) Laugh
A good laugh can actually cool down your stress response. Find a funny friend or watch your favorite comedy to get the laughter going!

9) Talk to a Friend or Family Member.
Just talking with someone else about your worries or struggles can help to relieve stress. Find someone you trust and set up a time to chat.talk to a professional.

10) Talk to a professional.
At the Corner we have therapists who will listen to what you are going through and help you practice strategies to cope with stress. Click here to make an appointment at the Corner.

About Catie Martin

Catie Martin, LMSW is the Corner Health Center’s in-house improv master and therapist extraordinaire. Little known fact: therapists with a sense of humor are better than therapists without a sense of humor.

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    Tips for cop­ing with stress to reduce the amount of neg­a­tive behav­iors that adverse­ly affect your heart

    It is unde­ni­able; stress is a part of every­day life. Try­ing to bal­ance work and fam­i­ly and still find time to do things you enjoy can be chal­leng­ing. This cul­mi­nates into the per­fect storm when exces­sive dai­ly stress col­lides with soci­ety pres­sures to always be bet­ter, wealth­i­er and more suc­cess­ful. Behav­iors used to cope with stress like overeat­ing, drink­ing alco­hol, smok­ing, work­ing too much, pro­cras­ti­nat­ing, and sleep­ing too much or not enough can be detri­men­tal to your heart health and car­dio­vas­cu­lar system.

    Did you know that stress sets off a chain reac­tion where your body releas­es adren­a­line, a hor­mone that increas­es your res­pi­ra­tions and heart rate? This is part of the ​ “ fight or flight response” that is built into your body to help cope in dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. In small incre­ments, this state is help­ful; how­ev­er, when you are under exces­sive stress on a reg­u­lar basis, these respons­es become harmful.

    The effects of stress become appar­ent in many ways. You may start to expe­ri­ence headaches, back­ach­es, stom­achaches and tight mus­cles. In addi­tion, ener­gy lev­els decline and sleep pat­terns are affect­ed. Many times, you may expe­ri­ence feel­ings such as anx­i­ety, anger, depres­sion, irri­tabil­i­ty, impa­tience and for­get­ful­ness. These, too, can have an impact on your heart health. It is always impor­tant to talk to a doc­tor to be sure that these symp­toms aren’t relat­ed to med­ical con­di­tions or med­ica­tions. If all oth­er symp­tom caus­es are ruled out, you should focus your efforts on learn­ing how to bet­ter man­age dai­ly stress for your heart health and over­all well-being.

    Learn­ing to cope with stress in your life will reduce the amount of neg­a­tive behav­iors that adverse­ly affect the car­dio­vas­cu­lar system.

    6 ways to help man­age dai­ly stress more effectively:

    1. Talk, Talk, Talk!

    Turn to fam­i­ly and friends, or even a trained ther­a­pist, to dis­cuss things in your life that are caus­ing stress. Some­times a fresh per­spec­tive can enlight­en you on the sit­u­a­tion and pro­vide solu­tions you may not have seen otherwise.

    2. Exer­cise Regularly

    Whether it is high inten­si­ty inter­val train­ing, a walk in the park, or a long evening bike ride, exer­cise releas­es ​ “ feel good hor­mones” that can help you relax and relieve both phys­i­cal and men­tal tension.

    3. Engage in Meditation

    Deep breath­ing, yoga, and tai chi are just a few types of med­i­ta­tive prac­tices that are stress reduc­ing. These activ­i­ties can help to clear your mind and help focus on solu­tions to prob­lems in your life. These activ­i­ties will also help lead to bet­ter sleep which is impor­tant in keep­ing stress at bay.

    4. Healthy Diet

    A good bal­ance of vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and elec­trolytes will pro­vide ener­gy and allow you to main­tain a healthy weight. With poor nutri­tion, ill­ness and dis­ease can occur which will only add more stress to your life. Also, lim­it caf­feine; when con­sumed in excess, caf­feine can have adverse effects on stress and your heart.

    5. Stay Organized

    Much of your dai­ly stress can be caused by for­got­ten appoint­ments or items, over-packed cal­en­dars, unhealthy on-the-go eat­ing, etc. Plan ahead! Lay out back­packs, brief­cas­es, and clothes the night before. Have an assigned place in the house for impor­tant paper­work and mail. Use the week­end to pre­pare healthy meals for the week so there is no excuse to stop for fast food. Being pre­pared will reduce stress asso­ci­at­ed with dai­ly activities.

    6. Prac­tice Pos­i­tive Self-talk

    Instead of resort­ing to an ​ “ I can’t do this” men­tal­i­ty, think ​ “ I am going to do the best I can” and then accept that what you are able to do is good enough! Embrace the things you can change, laugh and slow down.

    Real­ize the pos­i­tives in your life and around you. Try to get more in touch with the sim­ple plea­sures in life. Remem­ber to take time for your­self; res­ur­rect your favorite hob­by, read a book, hang out with friends, lis­ten to music or just enjoy your sur­round­ings and take a walk in nature. All these things will help you cope with the inevitable stress life brings.

    Man­ag­ing stress more effec­tive­ly will have pos­i­tive effects on your heart and over­all health, allow­ing for a long and plea­sur­able life!

    As a small business owner, you’re no stranger to stress. From managing employees to dealing with inventory and staying on top of your finances (not to mention your personal life), there’s a ton to juggle. While being on overdrive is sometimes necessary, it can wreck havoc on your health if it’s your chronic mode of operation. That’s why it’s important to integrate tools, strategies, and states of mind to keep stress at bay.

    Here are a few research-backed ways to relieve your stress.

    1. Exercise

    You’ve heard it a million times from your doctor, but it’s worth another reminder — exercise is paramount to maintaining both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that moderate aerobic exercise, like walking or running several times a week, helps boost mood, improve sleep, and sharpen focus — and can even combat more chronic health challenges like depression.

    2. Yoga

    New research suggests that yoga is an effective means of reducing stress and anxiety. Lead researcher Lindsey B. Hopkins DeBoer, Ph.D., from the San Francisco VA Medical Center, says that yoga has been linked to reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reason enough to strike up a few poses at least once a week.

    3. Meditation

    You don’t have to look far to find research that backs meditation as an extremely effective way to combat stress — there have been a slew of studies on the subject over the past few years. One recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that meditation bolsters brain chemicals and hormones that help you regulate stress and fight off sickness. In the same study, meditation also proved to help lower blood pressure and enable people to react to stressful situations in more patient ways.

    4. Cognitive behavioral therapy

    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk psychotherapy that’s designed to change the ingrained, negative thought patterns that could be affecting your reaction to certain stressful situations. Ultimately, the goal is to change the way you react to triggers. Cognitive distancing and de-fusion are practices that help create space between you and the thoughts that might send you into spirals. If you’re experiencing chronic stress, it might be worth researching mental health professionals in your area that specialize in CBT.

    5. Mindfulness

    Mindfulness-based stress reduction, which was developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center to help patients deal with pain, uses a combination of meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful and present in the moment. And there’s a reason many larger corporations — from Google to Target — are now offering courses on it to help employees manage stress: It’s proven to be extremely successful in reducing anxiety. Studies have even found that it can actually change how your brain is wired.

    6. Massage

    Few people would pass up the chance for a massage, but now even science says that frequent massage is a good way to reduce stress symptoms. Massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol, in turn helping to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. Even a brief, 15-minute chair massage once a week can be enough to help alleviate stress.

    ![Walk in nature to help reduce stress](https://diyfqze5s92fh.cloudfront.net/publish-web/2016/Oct/Blog_Revised__1_-1477437445006.jpg)

    7. Nature

    Here’s an excuse to get outside: Taking walks in green spaces or even looking at pictures of nature can increase your resilience to stress. Stanford researchers found that getting up and taking a stroll through the park reduced anxiety more than walking on a busy street and had cognitive benefits as well.

    8. Regular vacations

    A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, showed significant changes in gene expression processes related to regulating stress. Researchers found a direct correlation between regular vacations and a healthy immune system, resistance to early-onset Alzheimer’s, and protection against cellular aging.

    9. Chores and repetitive activities

    Next time you need to decompress, head straight to the kitchen. A study from Florida State University found that chores like washing dishes could successfully calm the mind and decrease stress. The thinking is that things like doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, or tending the garden can act as informal contemplative practices that promote a positive state of mindfulness. Likewise, repetitive activities like knitting help to induce a relaxed state, similar to those associated with yoga and meditation, according to a report in The New York Times.

    10. Helping others

    Research from the Association for Psychological Science suggests that proactively doing things for others, even small things like holding a door open, could help you cope with everyday stressors and tough days and even boost daily well-being. In the study, a greater number of helpful acts for others correlated with higher levels of daily positive emotions and better overall mental health.

    Combating stress is not only important for your well-being, it also helps you operate effectively at work. So it’s worth taking the time to adopt these practices and strategies to keep your stress levels in check.

    Photo credits: “Yoga” by Dave Rosenblum, Flickr, CC by 2.0, cropped from original; “Just a short walk” by Val Wroblewski, Flickr, CC by 2.0, cropped from original.

    Are you feeling stressed right now? Stop and take one of these simple steps.

    How to eliminate stress

    You’ve heard it many times, including in this column: Stress is bad. It can damage your brain, screw up your health, travel from person to person, and even kill you. Our modern workplaces are great at creating stress and anxiety. How do we turn that off?

    Robert Allen Fahey, Ph.D., an academic dean at Computer Systems Institute in Boston, and also a noted psychic, has suggestions for a few very easy steps anyone can take during any workday. These will automatically reduce your stress levels, he says, and help you keep on an even keel whatever comes your way. They’re all things you can do at your desk, and most take only a few seconds. Here’s his list:

    1. Take a few slow, deep breaths.

    “So many do not breathe correctly it can take your breath away,” Fahey says. Taking a few slow, deep breaths will absolutely reduce your stress levels, especially if you do it at the moment that you start feeling anxious or angry. Stop, close your eyes, and count to four on the inhale and then again on the exhale. It’s nearly impossible to stay stressed while doing this brief exercise.

    2. Smile.

    This will work, Fahey says, even if you don’t feel particularly cheerful. “It will change the body and produce happy chemicals,” he says. “I tell people, if they want to lose stress, just smile. It takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.”

    3. Start the day with positive thoughts.

    At the beginning of your workday, or better yet when you first wake up in the morning, focus on the things that are going well in your life and that you are grateful for. Indeed, listing three things that you’re grateful for before you get out of bed in the morning can put you in a better mood for the whole day.

    Learning to focus on the positive puts you in the mindset of finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems, Fahey adds. “When this happens, we are glad problems exist because they are no longer a stress factor.”

    4. Drink water.

    Do you need to follow the old dictum to drink eight glasses of water a day? That’s debatable, but it’s certain that drinking plenty of water has many healthful effects, including reducing stress. So when you feel yourself getting frustrated, agitated, or impatient, that’s your signal to get up and get a glass of water–ideally distilled water, Fahey says. Not only will drinking water literally cool you down, you’ll also get a brief break from whatever is irritating you. That in itself may help put it into perspective.

    5. Slow your blinking.

    Several studies have shown that as people experience stress, their blinking frequency increases. In one famous example, Richard Nixon can be seen blinking at a furious rate during his 1974 speech resigning the presidency. Fahey believes that the opposite is also true–if you can control your blinking and keep it at an even pace, that will send a message to your body and your subconscious that all is well and will keep your stress levels low. It’s certainly worth a try.

    6. Doodle.

    Yes, you read that right. I’ll never forget, more than 20 years ago, sitting in my lawyer’s office making plans to divorce my first husband and drawing the biggest and most elaborate doodles of my life. Turns out there was a good reason. Doodling engages the right side of your brain, liberating your creativity and allowing for greater concentration.

    “Doodling is a form of unconscious cerebration,” Fahey says. Thus if you’re doodling while listening, you may be concentrating more than others who are not doodling, he adds. Furthermore doodling will kill stress. “Doodling changes brain dynamics allowing the brain to express itself better,” he says. “That causes new self-mapping to take place, followed by feeling more relaxed.”

    We all feel stress at one time or another. It’s a normal and healthy reaction to change or a challenge. But stress that goes on for more than a few weeks can affect your health. Keep stress from making you sick by learning healthy ways to manage it.

    Information

    LEARN TO RECOGNIZE STRESS

    The first step in managing stress is recognizing it in your life. Everyone feels stress in a different way. You may get angry or irritable, lose sleep, or have headaches or stomach upset. What are your signs of stress? Once you know what signals to look for, you can start to manage it.

    Also identify the situations that cause you stress. These are called stressors. Your stressors could be family, school, work, relationships, money, or health problems. Once you understand where your stress is coming from, you can come up with ways to deal with your stressors.

    AVOID UNHEALTHY STRESS RELIEF

    When you feel stressed, you may fall back on unhealthy behaviors to help you relax. These may include:

    • Eating too much
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Drinking alcohol or using drugs
    • Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough

    These behaviors may help you feel better at first, but they may hurt you more than they help. Instead, use the tips below to find healthy ways to reduce your stress.

    FIND HEALTHY STRESS BUSTERS

    There are many healthy ways to manage stress. Try a few and see which ones work best for you.

    • Recognize the things you can’t change. Accepting that you can’t change certain things allows you to let go and not get upset. For instance, you cannot change the fact that you have to drive during rush hour. But you can look for ways to relax during your commute, such as listening to a podcast or book.
    • Avoid stressful situations. When you can, remove yourself from the source of stress. For example, if your family squabbles during the holidays, give yourself a breather and go out for a walk or drive.
    • Get exercise. Getting physical activity every day is one of the easiest and best ways to cope with stress. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. It can also help you release built-up energy or frustration. Find something you enjoy, whether it is walking, cycling, softball, swimming, or dancing, and do it for at least 30 minutes on most days.
    • Change your outlook. Try to develop a more positive attitude toward challenges. You can do this by replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones. For example, rather than thinking, “Why does everything always go wrong?” change this thought to, “I can find a way to get through this.” It may seem hard or silly at first, but with practice, you may find it helps turn your outlook around.
    • Do something you enjoy. When stress has you down, do something you enjoy to help pick you up. It could be as simple as reading a good book, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or having dinner with a friend. Or, take up a new hobby or class. Whatever you choose, try to do at least one thing a day that’s just for you.
    • Learn new ways to relax. Practicing relaxation techniques is a great way to handle daily stress. Relaxation techniques help slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. There are many types, from deep breathing and meditation to yoga and tai chi. Take a class, or try learning from books, videos, or online sources.
    • Connect with loved ones. Do not let stress get in the way of being social. Spending time with family and friends can help you feel better and forget about your stress. Confiding in a friend may also help you work out your problems.
    • Get enough sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you think more clearly and have more energy. This will make it easier to handle any problems that crop up. Aim for about 7 to 9 hours each night.
    • Maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods helps fuel your body and mind. Skip the high-sugar snack foods and load up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean proteins.
    • Learn to say no. If your stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Ask others for help when you need it.

    If you can’t manage stress on your own, you may want to talk with your health care provider. Or consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help you find other ways to deal with your stress. Depending on the cause of your stress, you also may find it helps to join a support group.

    How to Relieve Stress

    Sometimes life is just plain stressful. Maybe you’re on a tight deadline at work or you or someone in your family is having health problems — or maybe both are happening at the same time and it feels like you’re juggling 100 things at once. No matter the circumstances, you’re likely wondering how to relieve stress so you can lead a more peaceful and healthy life.

    While it’s not always possible to control everything that is happening to us or around us, it is possible to change the way we relate to those things that are happening. Softening the way we perceive stress and relating to it in a more accepting way is the first trick for how to deal with stressful feelings.

    Below, we’ve listed stress reduction techniques that will put you on a path towards acceptance and help you reframe overwhelming situations. But first, let’s go over what’s happening to your body and mind when you’re stressed out.

    What stress does to the body

    When you come across something you perceive as threatening — whether that’s an oncoming car or your boss’ tone of voice — your eyes and ears send signals to the amygdala, an area of the brain that’s involved in emotional processing. When the amygdala detects danger, it sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus, which then signals to your nervous system to trigger the fight-or-flight response.

    When this response is initiated, stress hormones (including adrenaline) flood your body, causing your heart to beat faster than normal and your pulse and blood pressure to go up. Simultaneously, you start to breathe more rapidly and your body sends extra oxygen to your brain, increasing alertness.

    A variety of other hormonal changes and physiological responses occur when your body reacts to stress. When this fight-or-flight response is repeatedly activated, it can cause health problems over time including high blood pressure and brain changes that contribute to anxiety and depression.

    How to reduce stress using mindfulness meditation

    Now that we understand just how important it is to manage our body’s stress response, what are techniques we can use to reduce stress? One helpful approach for how to reduce stress is practicing mindfulness.

    Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged in the moment. Mindfulness lets us step back from unpleasant thoughts and emotions (aka stress) that arise because of challenging situations. It lets us calm the mind, get in touch with our body, and gain perspective of the world around us.

    People who incorporate mindfulness meditation into their lives often report a greater sense of positivity, patience, acceptance, and compassion, as well as lower levels of stress, sadness, and frustration. A study published in mindfulness journal PLOS ONE found that 10 days of practicing mindfulness meditation using the Headspace app reduced stress by 14%.

    How to release stress through stretching and exercise

    Not only does exercise reduce the body’s stress hormones, it also stimulates the production of endorphins, which elevate mood. Walking and jogging, or any type of exercise where you use large muscle groups in a repetitive fashion, will help you reduce stress. Even a short 10-minute stroll can relax the mind and clear your head of overwhelming thoughts. Try one of Headspace’s guided walks to ease your mind and de-stress.

    Stretching, on the other hand, can relieve the muscle tension created by carrying stress in our body. This, in turn, can also help you sleep better. Stretching in addition to regular exercise is a recipe for living a less stressful, more peaceful life.

    How music can help you cope with stress

    When you’re stressed out, it can feel like everyone is against you and you can’t connect to others easily. Research shows that music facilitates feelings of belonging, positive feelings of warmth towards others, empathy, trust, and social skills.

    Music can also change our mood and our heartbeat. When we listen to music, our heart begins to sync with the beat. This means that a gentle melody can slow down a racing heartbeat. The next time your fight-or-flight response is about to kick in, try calming down and relieving some stress with your favorite chill tunes.

    Simply talking to someone can help you release stress

    Venting about what’s stressing you out can feel really, really good. Research shows that complaining to your coworkers is good for your mental health and helps you process your feelings. It also helps you bond with coworkers and cope with stress.

    Friends outside of work can also be a great resource when it comes to reducing your stress. Try calling a friend and talking to them about what’s on your mind and overwhelming you. Chances are you’ll feel like a load was lifted off your shoulders after you’re done.

    A third available resource is talking to a therapist. When you process stressors in your life with a therapist, this can help you work through whatever is causing tension in your mind and body. Your therapist can also help you do guided breathing exercises — simply ask them to do one with you the next time you’re in a session. You can also try Headspace’s 1-minute deep breathing exercise meditation.

    “Experiencing stress is inevitable, but managed well, stress can promote emotional and intellectual growth and resilience as we age,” says Johns Hopkin stress management expert Frances Callahan, LCSW-C.

    She has mapped an easy-to-follow plan for how to manage stress—at any age.

    Identify your triggers.

    Once you know where your stress is coming from—a relationship, kids, workload, a health problem—you can sometimes reduce or prevent the stress. After giving the matter some focused thought, you may identify practical steps to improve the situation. Even if changing the trigger isn’t possible, a shift in perspective may help mitigate stress. For example, if a friend is pushing your buttons, stepping back and adjusting your expectations may allow you to keep this close bond.

    Stay connected.

    Maintaining, improving, and increasing healthy relationships with supportive friends and family powerfully promotes resilience. Many find that connections with a faith family, neighbors, and even pets, help them feel positive and energetic, even if children and grandchildren aren’t close at hand.

    Stay active.

    Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins. Taking short walking breaks several times a day is a powerful tool for channeling stress. Exercising or joining yoga, dance, or tai chi classes with friends also helps achieve step 2—staying connected.

    Find your “pause” button.

    “After experiencing times of great change, high demand, or significant loss, it’s essential to press pause and rest. Often creating time and space for rest means saying “no” to invitations and requests for help, at least temporarily,” says Callahan. Consider spending quiet time daily: contemplation, reflection, and breathing fosters resilience and calm.

    Plan your fun.

    To prevent the daily rush from consuming your life, plan your fun for the day, week, month, or year. Callahan recommends, “instead of channel surfing, make a date to watch a special program, alone or with a loved one. Plan a monthly game night with friends and ask them to bring goodies to share. Identify fun activities that suit you, and schedule them.”

    Reframe your thinking about stress itself.

    Stress responses, including faster heart rate and breathing, evolved to improve our performance in stressful situations. Reminding yourself of stress’s evolutionary value may improve your performance and paradoxically reduce feelings of stress, in that you’re not adding “stress about stress” to the stress the original trigger aroused.

    Illustrations by Sam Kalda

    Stress is unavoidable in modern life, but it doesn’t have to get you down. Work, money and family all create daily stress, while bigger issues like the global pandemic and politics contribute to our underlying stress levels. But approach it the right way, and it won’t rule your life — it can even be good for you. Here are ways to deal with stress, reduce its harm and even use your daily stress to make you stronger.

    Take Control

    Stress is inevitable; getting sick from it is not.

    The Perception of Stress

    While we know that stress is associated with health problems, plenty of people with high-stress lives are thriving. How is that possible? In 2012, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a seminal study looking at how 28,000 people perceived stress in their lives. People in the study answered these two questions:

    1. During the past 12 months, would you say that you experienced:
      1. A lot of stress
      2. A moderate amount of stress
      3. Relatively little stress
      4. Almost no stress at all
    2. How much effect has stress had on your health?
      1. A lot
      2. Some
      3. Hardly any
      4. None

      The researchers looked at death rates in the study group over nine years. The results are startling. The study found that having a lot of stress in your life was not linked with premature death. But having a lot of stress in your life and believing it was taking a toll on your health increased risk of premature death by 43 percent.

      Changing your perception

      With stress, the mind and the body are intrinsically linked. You can view stress as something that is wreaking havoc on your body (and it can) or as something that is giving you the strength and energy to overcome adversity. Here’s a quick way to think about these two very different views of stress. Read the statement, and then think about your own reaction to the biological changes that occur during times of stress.1. When I’m stressed, my body releases adrenaline and cortisol. My heart is beating faster. This means that:

      • Common View: Stress is increasing my risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
      • Alternative View: My heart is working harder and my body is mobilizing its energy to get ready for this challenge.

      2. When I’m stressed, my stress response is causing my breathing rate to increase. This means that:

      • Common View: My fast breathing is a sign of anxiety. I worry about how stress is affecting my mental and physical health.
      • Alternative View: I should take a deep breath. My faster breathing means more oxygen is getting to my brain so I can think more clearly.

      3. When I’m stressed, my heart and circulatory system respond, causing my blood pressure to rise. This means that:

      • Common View: I can feel my blood pressure rising. This can’t be good for my health.
      • Alternative View: Circulatory changes are allowing more oxygen and nutrients to fuel my muscles. I’m feeling stronger and ready for the challenge ahead.

      It’s probably clear to you that the alternative view is the better choice for thinking about stress. It may be hard to believe that such a small shift in thinking could make a difference, but that’s what Harvard researchers found when they paid 50 study subjects $25 each to take part in a lab experiment designed to induce stress. The test involves giving a talk in front of a group of unfriendly evaluators, followed by a tricky word test. (Researchers have consistently found that this formula of public speaking plus testing in front of a hostile crowd is incredibly uncomfortable and stress-inducing for the poor people who agree to take part in the study.)

      Before the social stress test, one group was allowed to play video games; another was taught to simply ignore stressful feelings if they experienced them during the test. But a third group was given advice similar to the quiz above. They got a primer about the physical stress response and were told how a higher heart rate, faster breathing and internal jitters were all tools for making you strong during a stressful event. They were told how the body’s stress response evolved to help us succeed, and that the increased arousal symptoms of stress can aid your performance during times of stress. The bottom line of the lesson was this: In a tough situation, stress makes you stronger.

      The group that learned to rethink the role of stress in their lives did far better on the test. They gave better speeches and were rated as more confident. They smiled more and had more-positive body language. And physiological indicators showed that their bodies were also managing the stress response better than those of test subjects who were taught to ignore stress or given no advice at all.

      The Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal has been a champion of rethinking stress, noting that the right approach can make you smarter and stronger. Her TED talk on the subject, “How To Make Stress Your Friend,” has been viewed 14 million times.

      “What I learned from these studies, surveys and conversations truly changed the way I think about stress,” Dr. McGonigal wrote in her book “The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It.” “The best way to manage stress isn’t to reduce or avoid it, but rather to rethink and even embrace it.”

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      Stress. We all experience it, and everyone can benefit from reducing it. Stress can wreak havoc on your health – including your heart health. And reducing stress can go a long way to helping you prevent and maybe even reverse conditions that can lead to heart disease. So, what can you do to reduce your stress and save your heart?

      Here are some tips for reducing stress that can have the added benefit of improving your heart health.

      Exercise

      Getting regular exercise and making it a point to increase your activity level throughout the day can reduce stress. Exercise reduces your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. It also releases endorphins, which are known as the body’s feel good chemicals. But they don’t just make you feel good, they also help combat stress. The key to incorporating regular exercise into your life is to find activities you enjoy. If working out feels like a chore and is just another thing you have to do, the stress-reducing benefits may not be as great. But if you enjoy the activity, you’ll experience a double benefit. Before you start any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.

      Laugh

      Laughter is a great way to reduce stress hormones. It also helps reduce inflammation and can increase your HDL (the good cholesterol). Here’s what laughter does to your body: It increases the oxygen level throughout your body; it helps relieve tension by relaxing your muscles; it relieves your stress response; and it can help improve your mood and your immune system. Laughter just makes us feel good. So, try to look for humor in everyday life (it’s okay to laugh at yourself), spend time with people who make you laugh (we’ve all seen how laughter can be contagious), or watch a comedy movie or show.

      Practice yoga

      Yoga helps relax and strengthen your body, calm your mind, and center your thoughts. It’s a great exercise for your heart. It helps reduce blood pressure and lower other risks for developing heart disease. And it can also help you manage the inevitable stress in your life.

      Give thanks

      Keeping a gratefulness journal or just spending a few minutes each day thinking about what you’re grateful for can have numerous benefits and enormous health effects that can protect your heart health and reduce stress. It can improve your mood, boost your immune system, reduce the effects of aging on the brain, help you sleep better, and reduce stress. One study showed that people who were grateful had about a 25 percent reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.

      Meditate or pray

      Meditation and prayer have been shown to reduce blood pressure and other risks for heart disease. In addition, they can help you focus on what’s important to you and manage stress more effectively.

      Breathe deep

      Deep breathing and relaxation exercises are good for your body and your mind. They bring more oxygen into your body, and they have been shown to decrease the levels of cortisol in your body and even temporarily reduce blood pressure.

      Listen to music

      Music can help you relax, and some types of music can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol level. Soothing music likely has the greatest relaxation effect, but just listening to music you enjoy can help you feel better and manage stress more effectively. The sounds of nature, like waves crashing, thunderstorms, birds singing, can also be calming and may have an effect like music.

      Go for a hike

      Combining exercise with time spent outside can be a great stress reliever. While you’re walking, pay attention to the world around you. Listen to the sounds of nature, look at all the color and texture, touch leaves and flowers, feel the ground beneath your feet. Let nature fill your senses. You don’t have to walk fast or far to get the stress-relieving benefits of spending some time outside. If you can, leave your screens behind and just enjoy the natural world.

      Write

      Many people find that keeping a journal can help them reduce stress. Write about anything that comes to mind. Some people reflect upon their day, write about their plans, or as we mentioned earlier, keep a gratefulness journal. Some people find that writing down their goals helps them feel less stressed and more motivated. The act of writing with a pen or pencil and paper can also help you relax and can take you away from screens, which is another benefit of writing.

      Get social

      Spending time with friends and family can improve your mental and physical health. One study showed that spending time with friends and children helps release the natural stress relieving chemical oxytocin. Many studies have shown that people with a strong social network tend to live longer and recover better after health crises, such as a heart attack. Having close friends and family members you can turn to can help you manage stress and make your life more enjoyable, which can also reduce stress.

      Take a nap

      Napping can feel really good, and it can also help reduce your body’s cortisol levels, which can help relieve stress. Besides, napping may also help ensure you get enough sleep, which can also help keep stress at bay.

      Hug someone

      There are studies that show hugging can reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. Besides that, it feels good.

      Get a cat or a dog

      Spending time with animals helps lower stress hormones, and petting cats and dogs can reduce blood pressure temporarily. At least one study showed that spending time with dogs can increase oxytocin, making you feel good. Also, if you have a dog, you’re more likely to get exercise since your dog will encourage you to grab a leash and go for a walk, so you get a double benefit!

      Learn how to say no

      You’ve probably hear it a hundred times – you can’t make everyone happy all the time. If you have difficulty finding time in your day to do the things that are important to your health and your family, you might benefit from finding ways to cut some things from your schedule. Make time to exercise, relax, and do things that help reduce stress rather than increasing it.

      As you can see, there are many things you can do to reduce stress in your life and, in turn, improve your heart health. Stress relief is within your control. You’ve got this!

      How to eliminate stress

      Whether it’s a never-ending to do list, the constant stream of somber news, or trying to focus on that Zoom meeting while the dogs bark and the doorbell rings, the sources of stress in our lives right now are at an all-time high.

      The good news? There are simple steps you can take to regain some calm in your life. Here are six ways to reduce stress and anxiety in five minutes or less.

      Related

      Health & Wellness Feeling anxious? Use these tips to calm down right now

      1. Focus on your breathing.

      According to Dr. Marlynn Wei, a psychiatrist based in New York City, rhythmic breathing is a good stress-reducing exercise that doesn’t take too much practice to start using.

      Here’s how to do it:

      • Set a timer for three minutes.
      • Focus on your breath.
      • Take a deep breath through your nose while you count to five.
      • Hold your breath for five counts.
      • Exhale for five counts.
      • Repeat for the remaining time, and notice how your breath becomes deeper.

      “I think that it’s easy to use and great for beginners,” Wei said.

      If you’re not only stressed, but tired as well, Wei recommended doing this breathing exercise while you walk. Try to time your breath with your walking pace.

      “When you’re able to calm your fight-or-flight response, you reduce your cortisol levels over time,” she said. “Almost immediately, however, you will notice that your heart rate will go down and your blood pressure will go down.”

      How to eliminate stress

      New study reveals physical impacts of pandemic stress

      2. Take a break from your phone.

      Constantly checking your phone for the latest notification can overwhelm you, according to Kristine Carlson, co-author of the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” which she wrote with her late husband Richard Carlson.

      “We are so tied to our technology,” she said. “Email, text message, checking your Instagram — all of that, it’s very addictive.”

      Instead, she advised, “really unplug from your email or phone” and take what Carlson refers to as a “golden pause.”

      By snoozing your notifications, you create the mental space to focus on yourself and how you’re feeling. While you focus on yourself, practice breathing slowly, closing your eyes and turning your thoughts toward something you’re grateful for, Carlson suggested.

      Research backs up this up: Focusing on gratitude has been shown to increase a person’s level of happiness.

      Related

      How to relax 9 simple ways to de-stress in minutes

      3. Use an app to help you learn how to meditate.

      There are many free meditation apps out there that can help you tune out for the five minutes you need to relax.

      Popular apps like Headspace or Insight Timer have hundreds of guided meditation options that can help you deal with any emotion you may be feeling. Research suggests meditation can help ease anxiety and depression.

      Nick Allen, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Digital Mental Health at the University of Oregon, suggests you try to build a meditation practice when you’re not feeling stressed. The more you work beforehand, he said, either by yourself or with a professional, the better results you’ll see when you’re in a pinch.

      4. Listen to a relaxing song.

      Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D, Director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institutes of Health, said music therapy can also be a great way to relax wherever you are.

      “The auditory cortex is connected to other areas of the brain that are connected to our reward system, motor systems, centers for motivation and emotion regulation,” Edwards said.

      In fact, research shows music can help people dealing with stress-related disorders, mild depression and anxiety.

      5. Have a relaxing cup of tea.

      “Have a hot cup of tea, preferably with no caffeine,” Wei said. “And put the smart phone away and just spend a few minutes focusing on the flavor of tea, the temperature, noticing everything about the cup.”

      This mindfulness practice helps you tune out other thoughts, helping you focus on something that’s calming. This can be a great tactic to reduce stress at work; while you can’t necessarily step away from the stressors completely, you can use a cup of tea as a signal to press pause for a moment.

      Related

      Walk it out Stressed out? Here’s how to take a walk that will calm you down

      6. Go outside for a few minutes.

      Dr. Monique Tello, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that sometimes, getting outside for a quick walk or fresh air is a great option to reduce stress quickly.

      “If someone is feeling very stressed and they have the chance to change their environment, get fresh air, see nature — water, trees — they should,” Tello told TODAY. “Exercise, take a brisk walk.”

      This strategy is great for people who feel restless or unable to concentrate and there are studies to support its effectiveness, she added.

      “We’re always going to be faced with challenging situations, but they don’t always have to stress us out,” Tello said.

      How to eliminate stress

      August 27, 2019 | 3 minute read

      How to eliminate stressStress is one of the most daunting obstacles to employee engagement in the modern workplace.

      Studies estimate that stress costs U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion annually, and the workplace has been identified as the number one source of stress for American workers.

      Workload, lack of job security, and personnel problems gang up on and overwhelm employees, dragging down their satisfaction levels. In fact, the negative consequences from stress are so strong that it has been declared a World Wide Epidemic by the World Health Organization .

      While many have tried to construct all-encompassing lists of stress reduction tactics, recent studies have shown there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

      In the workplace, employee-environment fit should be the primary focus. If it’s a good match, the employee is likely to be relaxed. A poor fit increases tension and stress.

      As managers and companies, we need to examine our employees and the environments we create for them. We need to make sure we are providing an office that fits our employees’ definition of “not stressful,” not just what we think that looks like.

      We have a few broad ideas that can be used to alleviate workplace stress, but make sure you tailor them to your workforce. Put these ideas into action; and remember, the best strategies start with leadership’s example.

      1. Encourage workplace wellness.

      Exercise and healthy living are two of your best weapons against workplace stress. Exercise takes employees’ minds off the stress of their job to focus on the task at hand. It also improves moods by increasing the production of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.

      • Encourage employees to go on a walk during lunch breaks
      • Subsidize gym memberships
      • Bring a yoga instructor into the office once a month
      • Hold a steps contest among teams for those who own fitness trackers
      • Offer healthy snacks in the office

      Employees feel valued when they think you’re looking out for their health! A study by Peapod.com reported that 66% of employees felt extremely or very happy when their employer regularly stocked the refrigerator and cupboards, and 83% said that having healthy and fresh snack options was a huge perk. Something as simple as keeping fresh fruit or cartons of yogurt in the fridge goes a long way with employees.

      How to eliminate stress

      2. Revamp the habitat.

      A lot of stress comes from environment. Think about every aspect of your office space and what it does (or doesn’t do) for the wellness of your team. Simple things like the quality of the coffee or the height of the cubicle walls can affect employee engagement.

      Update the office with an upbeat color scheme, additional plants, or new silverware. If you have the space, think about adding a ping pong or foosball table to allow employees to take their mind off of their stress for a few minutes. Any changes that increase employee enjoyment will leave them feeling less stressed.

      3. Allow for flexible hours and remote working.

      You hired your employees because you have confidence in their ability to do their jobs well and in a timely manner—so let them prove it. Your office shouldn’t feel like a cell, but rather a place that facilitates getting a job done. Let your employees know that their job is defined by the quality and timeliness of their work, not when they punch the clock.

      Allow your employees to work remotely, and give flexibility for start and end times. This freedom is great for office morale, and the policy shows employees that you trust them enough not to babysit.

      4. Encourage social activity.

      Employees spend a lot of time together, and the more comfortable they are, the less stress they will feel. As coworkers get to know each other, expectations and communication barriers are broken down, greasing the wheels for easier future interactions.

      How to eliminate stress

      5. Create quiet time.

      Stress can’t be completely avoided, but you can help alleviate it when it arrives. Ensure your employees have a place where they can take a break.

      Our research shows that more than 80 percent of disengaged and hostile employees preferred the opportunity to have stress-relief breaks, such as a nap, massage, or required break. A small room, a lounge space at the end of the hall, and even an outdoor bench can be perfect places to find refuge from the chaos of the daily grind. Think about longer, retreat-style vacations, which can serve the same purpose.

      If your organization can afford to do so, consider implementing “No Meeting Mondays” or something similar, essentially blocking off time for employees to focus in on individual task and keep from getting bogged down with meetings or overwhelmed by a heavy workload.

      6. Provide onsite or distance counseling.

      Many companies have also begun providing counseling as a way for employees to help deal with stress; in a recent study, almost half of workers felt they needed help in learning how to handle the stresses of their jobs. This strategy—in or out of the office, in group settings or individually—can help employees prepare for what stress will come their way.

      7. Recognize your employees.

      Employees love being praised for a job well done, and recognizing their success results in a serious boost in engagement. Each employee has a different personality, so be mindful when considering how and when to recognize. Some employees appreciate a call-out during a meeting or praise in a company-wide email, while more reserved types might prefer a card on their desk or a thank you in person.

      However you choose to recognize, your employees will appreciate that you are aware off their success and want to share it with others. This makes them happier and more comfortable, in turn lowering stress levels.

      Looking for more research on employee stress and what employers can do to reduce it? Download our ebook, Stress Management in the Workplace.

      Author

      Associate Professor of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle

      Disclosure statement

      Michael Smith does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

      Partners

      Northumbria University, Newcastle provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

      Writing about positive emotions may help to reduce stress and anxiety, according to our new study, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

      Earlier research has also found that writing about negative emotions – getting things “off your chest” – can improve your mental health. And it seems to benefit physical health, too.

      Stress affects your physical health, so it is thought that improvements in mental well-being might stop people becoming physically unwell. Research has shown that writing about negative emotions can lead to fewer visits to the doctor, fewer self-reported symptoms of ill health, and less time off work due to ill health.

      Not many studies have investigated writing about positive emotions, but if writing about negative emotions helps people deal with their negative thoughts and feelings, then it’s possible that focusing on positive emotions might have a positive effect on people’s mental health.

      Earlier research has shown that writing about positive experiences for 20 minutes a day, for three consecutive days, improved people’s mood and led to fewer visits to the doctor. Even writing for as little as two minutes a day about a positive experience has been shown to reduce the number of health complaints that people report.

      While earlier studies showed that writing about positive experiences can improve your mood, we didn’t know what effect it might have on stress and anxiety.

      Twenty minutes a day

      For our study, we investigated whether writing about a positive experience – which could include anything from being moved by a good book, painting or piece of music, to falling in love – could reduce stress, anxiety and common health complaints, such as a headache, back pain or coughs and colds. We also wanted to know if it would be helpful for all people, regardless of their level of distress.

      How to eliminate stress

      We recruited 71 healthy participants, aged 19 to 77, and randomly allocated them to one of two groups. We asked one group (37 participants) to write about the most wonderful experiences of their life for 20 minutes a day, for three consecutive days, and we asked the other group (34 participants) to write about a neutral topic, such as their plans for the rest of the day, over the same time frame.

      We measured levels of anxiety, as reported by the participants, immediately before and after they completed their writing task. We found a significantly greater decrease in anxiety for those people who wrote about positive experiences, compared with those who wrote about neutral topics.

      The participants also reported their levels of stress, anxiety and physical health complaints four weeks after they completed the writing tasks. Stress and anxiety decreased to a significantly greater extent for those who wrote about positive experiences after four weeks, compared with the levels reported before they completed the writing tasks. However, writing didn’t improve participants’ physical health problems.

      We also found that writing about happy moments was effective, regardless of the levels of distress that people reported at the start of the study.

      Because we excluded people with a diagnosed psychological condition, we can’t be sure that this technique would work in a clinical setting. It’s also important to note that in order for them to engage with the task, it wasn’t possible to blind participants to the treatment. Another limitation of our study was that we relied on self-report questionnaires, rather than using objective measures of mental and physical health.

      Of course, emotional writing may not be for everyone. Personality traits, problems expressing emotions or a disinterest in writing might mean that for some people there are better ways to tackle negative emotions.

      An advantage of writing about positive emotions to tackle stress and anxiety is its simplicity. Unlike many other strategies for improving psychological well-being, this task needs no training or time spent with a therapist. People can do it at a time and place that is convenient for them – and it’s free.

      It is a proven fact that reading can help reduce stress. Many of us take this simple act for granted, because we have so much “required” reading in our daily lives-the newspaper, traffic signs, emails, and bills. But how often do we read for pleasure?

      Reading can be a wonderful (and healthy) escape from the stress of everyday life. Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors. Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. It works better and faster than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or drinking a hot cup of tea. This is because your mind is invited into a literary world that is free from the stressors that plague your daily life.

      Find a book or magazine that piques your interest-a romantic paperback, gardening magazine, or even a cookbook. Set aside 30 minutes to read every day in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Here are some tips to help you get started:

      1. The book you choose doesn’t have to be on any “best-seller” list. The important thing is that the subject matter has captured your interest and will provide a space for your mind to relax in every day.
      2. Reading only helps reduce your stress if you pick something you enjoy that won’t upset you. Reading the news may not be the best choice if it makes you feel angry or helpless. Pick a novel where you can escape into another world. Or read about an activity that you enjoy– a hobby, travel, cooking.
      3. Take note of how you feel after your reading break. Have you been able to let go of some of your stressors? If you still feel overwhelmed, take our Stress Assessment to explore the source of your anxieties and take charge of your wellbeing.

      Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK.

      How to eliminate stress

      Life is stressful. From daily stressors like bills, work, and relationships, to the bigger ones like losing a job, moving to a new house, or coping with an illness can all affect the way your body works. Stress often influences sleep which has a direct impact on how we live our lives. And not getting enough sleep can even make your stress worse.

      What’s Keeping You Awake?

      If you’re stressed out, you might not be able to fall into a deep sleep, the period of sleep when the body repairs and restores itself. Feeling anxious also makes you come in and out of sleep throughout the entire night. If you’re under stress, you might sleep less overall and have a lower sleep efficiency.

      A number of physiological changes occur within this sleep-stress relationship. The presence of stress raises cortisol levels, a hormone that stimulates alertness and vigilance, raising heart rate and blood pressure. Typically, your cortisol levels fall in the evening hours, as one element of the body’s natural preparation for sleep. High cortisol levels at night interfere with the release of melatonin, a hormone that is essential for the regulation of sleep-wake cycles. Poor sleep itself can further influence your cortisol, causing levels to rise at times when they would otherwise be low.

      Stress also disrupts your sleep cycles. Stress has been shown to decrease time spent in light and deep sleep, and increase time spent in REM sleep. REM is an important sleep stage for restoring mental function, a phase when the brain processes emotions and memories. These changes to your normal sleep architecture cause disruptions to the normal patterns of brain waves that occur during REM and the other stages of sleep. Stress can cause the brain waves related to concentration, creativity, and dreaming to change. Too much time in REM sleep can also cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue, which can further disrupt normal sleep cycles and mood.

      How Can Sleep Reduce Stress?

      Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. You are a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you’re well-rested. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, reduces your energy and diminishes mental clarity.

      You might find that you can’t concentrate as easily without sleep. Research demonstrates that lack of sleep renders you more emotionally reactive, more impulsive, and more sensitive to negative stimuli. These sleep-driven cognitive impairments can give rise to stress in any number of ways, from creating difficulty in relationships to causing problems with job performance.

      How to Stress Less

      There are many strategies that can help you manage stress so that it doesn’t interfere with sleep. Taking time to relax and wind down before bed is important to sleeping well and eliminating the stress of the day. A period of quiet time before bed allows you to step away from daily worries and set them aside before sleep. Try taking a warm shower or bath, getting a massage or doing some light stretching before bed. Certain scents or teas can even help you relax. Check out these essential oils, balms, pillows, and teas tested and scored by sleep experts. These peaceful activities can release physical tension and encourage the onset of sleep. If you find yourself struggling with stress and worry during the night, the following bedtime rituals can help.

      • Decide. Try to sort out worries and concerns before bedtime. Choose a time during the day to deal with the stress you’re facing, and keep bedtime a worry-free zone. If you find yourself carrying stress to bed with you, keep a notepad on the bedside table where you can write down your concerns and set them aside before sleep.
      • Stay organized. Keeping a clean office, home, and car can help you relieve some of the stress of your day. Clutter can lead to unnecessary stress when you can’t find an important document or the car keys.
      • Learn to meditate. Meditation has been known to relieve stress and improve sleep.
      • Be grateful. Taking time every day to give thanks for things that are good and comforting to you can help ease stress. Create a practice of giving thanks before bed for the great things that happened during the day.
      • Exercise your mind. Mind puzzles can help you avoid the escalating, sleep-depriving cycle of worrisome thoughts.

      Try breathing exercises. Breathing techniques can help you relax. Slow your breathing and start to relax by inhaling to a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four, and exhaling on a count of eight.

      Let’s face it, there’s always going to be stress in our lives. And a little stress never hurt anyone. Cortisol actually helps you find food and run away from unsafe situations. You just need to take the time to find out what daily stressors are affecting your sleep and how to handle it. By taking steps in your daily routine to make sure you get the proper amount of rest, you’re already well on your way to a dealing with stress in a healthy way. With attention and practice, you can break the sleep-stress cycle, both to feel better and sleep better.

      Download the free SleepScore App for insights on how well you sleep, the quality and quantity of your sleep cycles, and sleep improvement progress with science-backed tips and insights. Personalized advice, goals, and challenges are available with an optional premium upgrade, but you can try SleepScore Premium for 7 days free (for a limited time).

      Download it for free from App Store and Google Play Store!

      Starting and finishing any one item on your to-do list will do wonders to relieve overwhelm.

      Each day, more and more people struggle with all that life has thrown at them. Between work, family, health, house tasks, the latest political developments and everything else, there is a lot on everyone’s plate. It’s not easy to handle challenges that feel endless, with each demand as important as the last.

      How to eliminate stressPeopleImages | Getty Images

      To add more pressure, your full effort and attention are often required in all you do. That can feel nearly impossible when you have already spent the bulk of your energy on other activities.

      The bright side is that much of the stress and anxiety are conjured in your head. It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers to make the anxieties go away, but there are tangible steps you can take to reduce your stress. They will help you prioritize and, ultimately, feel better tackling all that you have ahead. Here are seven ways that you can reduce your stress levels and prioritize when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

      1. Accept how you feel instead of judging yourself.

      One of the most detrimental effects of stress is that people tend to get down on themselves about how they feel. You already have a handful of anxiety-provoking things on your mind. What you need least is the addition of a judgmental voice arguing you shouldn’t be stressed.

      Instead, accept how you feel. Don’t hate yourself for it; this is your reality. When you do that, you’re taking away any negative energy spent judging. It will allow you to instead observe how you feel. You will be able to objectively see what’s stressing you out and why.

      Over time, you can develop this habit and begin to see patterns that lead to stress. That will be extremely helpful in overcoming those feelings and learning how to prevent them in the first place.

      2. Write down everything you need to get out.

      Take the less than five minutes required to do a mind dump. Get everything bothering you out on paper. Write down what’s stressing you out, all that you have to do and the other thoughts or ideas occupying your mind. This will eliminate the urge to keep everything inside your head. Doing so will immediately lessen your stress levels; there will be less to hold onto, and your mind will be free to occupy other tasks and ideas.

      3. Take a break.

      Despite the mountain of items you might need to accomplish, you should first take a break when you’re feeling overly stressed. It can even be for just a few minutes. On top of helping you feel better, it will end up making you more productive. After an effective break, you will be able to better focus on the tasks at hand and home in on what you need to accomplish.

      This break looks different for everyone. You could listen to music, do breathing exercises, read a book, play with your kids or pet or go for a walk around your block. If you don’t know what’s most effective at cooling you down, try different activities. See when you feel most relaxed so you can do those things more frequently.

      Having these relaxing activities, even if it’s just for a few minutes, can be a great way to eliminate stress and get back on task.

      4. Spend 10 minutes prioritizing.

      In addition to writing down all that’s on your mind, spend 10 minutes prioritizing your tasks. What’s the most urgent? What can wait for a week? Is there anything you can eliminate altogether? Doing this will allow you to spend your time working on what’s most important.

      When we have so much on our to-do lists, it’s often easiest to pick the simplest tasks or the ones we want to do the most. While that knocks something off, it’s not always the right thing. You can end up spending hours working on items you don’t even need until next week and neglecting things needed today. By prioritizing, you’ll help yourself focus on those of utmost importance.

      5. Laugh with somebody about something.

      Laughter is a powerful medicine. This is especially true when you’re stressed. Whether it’s a TV show, a YouTube channel or one of your loved ones, try to find ways to laugh. It will put your stress in a larger context and lighten your load.

      6. Exercise

      Even if you’re only committing to some jumping jacks or running in place, getting your body moving will reduce stress. You’d be surprised at the many ways your body can hold stress. If there are areas where you feel tight, stretch them out; it’s likely you’re holding stress in those places.

      If you have more time, longer workouts will also release endorphins that are beneficial for stress levels and will leave you feeling much more energized.

      7. Put it in a larger context.

      Try to take a step back from all you have going on. Despite how heavy, scary and important the tasks on your plate might feel, it’s likely not the end of the world. If you fall a bit short in one place or are not able to give a different task your all, things tend to work out just fine. For some, it helps to play out the worst scenario — the worst possible outcome is often not as bad as you’re imagining.

      Letting the back-and-forth rhythm of life deeply affect you and ruin your daily experience isn’t worth it. Instead, realize how you are feeling; try to accept it. The act of realization and putting your stress into the bigger picture of life, as well as remembering how much good you have going on, can help you feel immediately better.

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      How to eliminate stress

      We all experience stress. Some of us experience it on a daily basis. The pressures of work, family care, and a long list of everyday tasks can weigh you down. These everyday stresses not only affect you on an emotional and mental level, but they can also affect you physically. Stress can even contribute to pain.

      If you find yourself in chronic pain, consider taking action to reduce the stress in your life. Reducing stress is an important part of any pain management plan.

      To understand this link between stress and pain, it is important to understand how stress and pain affect your body. Both stress and pain have similar effects on your body. Both elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. Both increase your breathing rate, and both cause your muscles to tighten.

      When you are constantly stressed, your body stays on this alert status. Your muscles will most likely remain in a state of tension, and your blood pressure could remain high. This takes a toll on your body.

      Additionally, people with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for chronic pain. This is because people who suffer from anxiety disorders and depression often have stress on a daily basis for long periods of time. Chronic pain disorders are very common people with anxiety disorders. In fact, chronic back pain is more common among people with these disorders than people without them.

      7 Ways to Naturally Eliminate Stress

      Meditation

      Meditation involves sitting or lying down comfortably and then focusing on your breath. If thoughts of pain or stress come to mind, acknowledge the thought and let it be. Don’t try to push the thought away. Let the thought pass without interacting too much with it. Try to return to your breathing. Doing 10-20 minutes of meditation a day can greatly help you reduce stress and relax.

      Breathing Exercises

      Breathing exercises may involve inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds. You should repeat this multiple times. This will help you relax, and it should help distract your body and mind from going into a stressful mode.

      Positive Self Talk

      Positive self talk is another useful relaxation technique. It is also called positive thinking. This is where you avoid negative self talk or change negative thoughts into neutral or positive thoughts and words. For example, if a friend cancels plans with you, you shouldn’t see it as a negative experience. Think instead of the other fun things you can do with the free time. Positive self talk also involves not using self-limiting statements, such as “I can’t do this.” Instead, change these statements into positive questions, such as “How can I handle this?”

      Exercise

      If you are healthy enough for exercise, a good workout can boost your mood and reduce your stress. Even low impact exercises like yoga are useful for stress reduction. Yoga can even help stretch out your muscles and reduce muscle tension.

      Massage

      Massage therapy is a great way to reduce muscle tension and stress. Scheduling an hour massage can do wonders for both your mind and body.

      Get Enough Sleep

      A good night’s sleep can do wonders for reducing stress and pain. Being well-rested helps you start your day off right and puts you in the right mindset for tackling your daily tasks. Getting too few hours of sleep, on the other hand, can leave you feeling irritable, depressed, and fatigued. A lack of sleep can even be a cause of stress itself. In order to promote healthy sleep, establish daily routines to help signal your brain that it is time to go to bed and sleep.

      Speak with a Pain Management Specialist

      If you find yourself experiencing chronic pain and stress, consider speaking with a pain management specialist. A pain management specialist will be able to provide further guidance on reducing stress and combating pain. If you are looking for a pain management specialist in Las Vegas, contact Apex Medical Center for more information.

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      How to eliminate stress

      In today’s busy world, we’re pulled in many directions at once. We have responsibilities at home and at work. Sometimes it all just becomes too much. Our bodies start to let us know that we’re feeling the stress of our daily lives. Feelings of stress are caused by your body’s instinct to defend itself. This instinct is good in emergencies, such as when you need to get out of the way of a speeding car. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms if it isn’t managed properly.

      Your body is working overtime as it deals with daily challenges. You’re just not equipped to deal with all the extra energy. You may start to feel anxious, afraid, worried, and uptight. If your stress isn’t kept under control, it can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

      You may also be dealing with major life events that can cause stress. These can include:

      • Losing a job (or starting a new one).
      • Your child leaving or returning home.
      • The death of your spouse.
      • Divorce or marriage.
      • Illness or injury for you or a close family member.
      • Money problems.
      • Having or adopting a baby.

      How to eliminate stress

      Physical symptoms can be your body’s way of letting you know you aren’t coping with stress well. Easy stress management may help patients feel better. Read More

      by Dr. David Schechter

      Path to improved well being

      Stress can cause health problems or make existing problems worse. Talk to your family doctor if you think your symptoms could be caused by stress. It’s important to make sure they aren’t caused by other health problems.

      Learn to recognize when you’re feeling stressed. Early warning signs of stress include tension in your shoulders and neck or clenching your hands into fists. Try to avoid the event or situation that leads to your stress. If that’s impossible, change how you react to stress.

      • Exercise. It’s a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. Exercising releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. It also helps you get in shape physically, which makes you feel better overall.
      • Eat right. Stress can affect your appetite. Make sure you’re eating regular, well-balanced meals.
      • Get some sleep. It’s important to get enough sleep so your body has time to repair itself.
      • Meditate. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. You can do it with exercise that uses the same motions over and over, like walking or swimming. You can meditate by practicing relaxation training, by stretching, or by breathing deeply.
        • Relaxation training is simple. Start with one muscle. Hold it tight for a few seconds and then relax. Do this with each of your muscles, beginning with the toes and feet and working your way up through the rest of your body.
        • Stretching can also help relieve tension. Roll your head in a gentle circle. Reach toward the ceiling and bend side to side slowly. Roll your shoulders.
        • Deep, relaxed breathing by itself may help relieve stress. This helps you get plenty of oxygen and activates your body’s relaxation response.
      • Let go. Don’t worry about things you can’t control, such as the weather.
      • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
      • Be ready. Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a job interview.
      • Chin up. Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat.
      • Work it out. Resolve conflicts with other people.
      • Talk it out. Discuss what’s bothering you with a trusted friend, family member, or counselor.
      • Keep it real. Set realistic goals at home and at work. Avoid overscheduling.
      • Have some fun. Participate in something you don’t find stressful, such as sports, social events, or hobbies.
      • Just say no. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. They can actually increase your stress levels.

      When to see your doctor

      Below is a list of symptoms you may encounter when you’re feeling stressed. If you’ve tried the tips above and feel that you still need help managing your stress, visit your family doctor.