Healthy ways to deal with 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.
Take common clues to stress — headaches, indigestion, sleep- lessness and sweaty palms — seriously. Learn to manage stress using these techniques:
• Change the factors you can
You may not be able to walk away from a stressful job or home situation, but you can develop new responses to defuse anger or conflict. You can also learn to manage your time better with stress-lowering techniques — from delegating household responsibilities to just saying no.
• Exercise regularly
The natural decrease in adrenaline production after exercise
may counteract the stress response. People who are physically fit handle stress better.
Learning techniques such as guided imagery, meditation,muscle relaxation and relaxed breathing can help you relax. Your goal is to lower your heart rate and blood pressure while reducing muscle tension. You can also focus on hobbies or activities you find calming, such as reading, listening to music or playing with your pet.
• Find a friend
From dealing with cancer to coping with a troubled relation- ship, social support can help reduce stress and prolong life.
• Recognize when you need help
If stress is keeping you from work or recreation, talk with your doctor or a specialist in behavioral medicine. Behavioral therapy is one approach that can help you gain control over your symptoms.