Healthy Living: Harnessing Stress

Stress has become a fact of life, and for some, the daily norm. Although occasional stress can help improve our focus and performance, living with chronic stress can backfire by causing anxiety, depression, and serious health problems. Understanding who we are, knowing our major struggles, putting them into perspective, and taking action can help us deal with stress. The following strategies can also improve stress tolerance and help lessen the effects of stress on our health.

1. Think Positively: “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into positive”, said Hans Selye, author of groundbreaking work in stress theory. If having a difficult time try cognitive-behavioral therapy or biofeedback.
2. Get Out and Enjoy Nature: Studies show interacting with nature lessens the effects of stress on the nervous system, reduces attention deficits, decreases aggression, and enhances spiritual well being.
3. Smell the Roses: Aromatherapy, smelling essential plant oils, is recognized worldwide as a complementary therapy for stress related issues. Orange or lavender scents, in particular, have been proven to enhance relaxation and reduce anxiety.
4. Relax with a Cup of Tea: Research shows that drinking tea for 6 weeks helps lower post stress cortisol levels and and increase relaxation.
5. Laugh It Off: Self explanatory!
6. Build a Support System: Quality relationships are key to health and happiness.
7. Relaxing Power of Music: Music, especially classical, has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety and improve overall mood even in serious chronic disease sufferers.
8. Calm Your Mind: Techniques include meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, practicing non-judgemental awareness, and guided imagery.
9. Warmth of Human Touch: Virginia Satir, a famous American psychotherapist, once said people need 4 hugs a day to help prevent depression, 8 for psychological stability, and 12 for growth. Need something more then try a good massage therapy session.
10. Give Exercise a Shot: My personal favorite! Research shows many types of physical exericse can decrease stress and anxiety. Try weightlifting, running, walking, sporting games, tai chi, or yoga.

No matter what stress-relief methods you choose, make it a habit to use them – especially if you feel too stressed out to do it. As someone once said, the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

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