In general, stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you — such as work, school, family, relationships, situations, events — exceed your ability to cope. Sound familiar?
In small doses, stress can be positive and motivating, encouraging us to perform well at a presentation, meet an important deadline, or host the best holiday party ever. But when excessive routine stress becomes part of daily life over a prolonged period, that’s not good. Untreated chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Research shows that stress can also contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
All good reasons to take measures to manage and reduce our daily stress.
Here are five proven techniques from the American Psychological Association that have been shown to reduce stress in both the short and long term. Give them a try in 2019.
Take a break from the stressor. It may seem difficult to walk away from a big work project, a family issue, or mounting bills, but stepping away gives you time to do something else and to think, which can offer new perspectives and leave you feeling refreshed and less overwhelmed.
Exercise. Exercise benefits your mind and your body. During stressful times, exercise — whether a 20-minute walk or a vigorous workout — can offer an immediate release and positive effect lasting for several hours.
Smile and laugh. Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When you’re stressed, you often hold a lot of the stress in your face. Laughs and smiles can relieve the tension and improve the situation.
Get social. Call a friend, send an email. When you share your concerns and connect with another person — whom you trust and who understands you —it helps relieve stress and makes your world a bigger, friendlier place.
Meditate. Much like exercise, research shows that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits. It helps the mind and body to relax and focus.
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