Friday, June 13, 2008

Stress less and relax more

You wish you had more time in the day. You're up at night thinking about a proposal at work. You're in a rush to take the kids to practice, but stuck in traffic. Or you just wish you had more time for yourself. These days stress seems to creep into all of our lives, and it's no surprise that it can take its toll on our bodies. The cardiovascular system often suffers when the mind and body are stressed.

Emotional stress can lead to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased susceptibility to substance abuse and illness
  • Less resistance to disease
  • Depression

It's not always easy to manage stress, but it's certainly worth a try. Here are some basic techniques to help you stress less and relax more.


Regular exercise keeps your body fit and can be an outlet to release tension. It improves your ability to respond to challenges and recover after stressful situations.


Bring balance into your active life with enough sleep and rest. Beginning your day after a good night of sleep will fuel your body and mind with the energy needed to deal with stressful situations.

Eat Well

Nourish yourself with fresh, healthy foods, and take time to enjoy meals that ensure good digestion and provide pleasure.

Manage your Time and Tasks

Prioritize, set realistic goals, delegate as needed and only take on what you can manage to comfortably do. Slow down when stressed, and take note of what brings you ease and what increases stress and anxiety.

Look on the Bright Side

Take time to foster a positive outlook during difficult times. Stress often limits you to black and white thinking, but creativity flourishes with a calm mind. Surround yourself with positive influences, such as friends and family who can help you put things in perspective.


Laughter and humor can soften the hard edges of life. A good belly laugh feels great and is one way your body releases mood altering hormones.

Take Time for Yourself

Enjoy simple pleasures, such as pampering yourself with a long bath or massage. Take a nature walk, engage in a hobby, dance or listen to music. These are a few healthy ways to help you unwind and take care of yourself. Make sure you stick with activities you enjoy, or explore new ones that you’ve always wanted to try.

Connect with Others

Comforting friends and family members are powerful stress buffers. When you share your experiences and feelings with loved ones, you acknowledge your own uniqueness and relieve negative thoughts.

Know your Stress

Tune into how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Use the cues to take healthy steps to prevent further stress or promote relaxation. Recognize the dangers of relying on substances, such as alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes and drugs, which can offer quick relief, but are harmful and can increase stress in the long run.

Just Breathe

Bring awareness to your breath throughout the day. Concentrate carefully on your breath, and feel the breath within your body. This simple practice can calm and focus your mind, as well as release tension. It is also fundamental to many relaxation, yoga and meditation techniques, which you can also explore to reduce stress and enhance your life.

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