Managing Stress

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Stress is a part of modern life, it can not be avoided. Stressful situations come at us from many directions, work, school, family or life in general. When you are stressed by a particular problem, situation or event it is important to manage that stress before it adversely affects your health and your relationships.

If left unmanaged, stress can overload you both physically and psychologically leading to problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety, ulcers and depression. To manage stress you must understand its causes, accept that there are some events that you cannot control, learn and practice relaxation techniques and cultivate healthy habits to help minimize stress.

Developing your stress management skills will help you understand and deal with stress and the destructive impact it can have on you at work, school and your personal life. The stress management skills you learn will offer you ways to relax your mind and body helping you manage your stress and negative effects and emotions. As you explore different stress management skills and activities to help you relax and relieve stress, take time everyday to do something you enjoy. Meaningful, fun activities outside your normal routine will also help you relax and relieve stress.

Six Stress Management Approaches

Massage Therapy – Body-centered relaxation techniques reduce tension and help you deal with stress. Massage therapy, full body or simply massage of your back, neck and shoulders relieves stress and increases your sense of well being. Massage therapists provide a variety of therapeutic massages.

Breathing Exercises – Controlled breathing and deep breathing are simple, fast and free ways to reduce your stress level. Take deep, controlled cleansing breaths when you are stressed or angry. These breathing exercises can be done anytime and anywhere and help you practice the habit of relaxing your body with each breath you take.

Yoga – Another stress management approach is yoga as a source of physical relief, stress reduction and spiritual well-being. Benefits of yoga include reduced stress, lower blood pressure, improved sleep quality, reduced muscle tension and anxiety combined with increased flexibility and strength.

Music – Stress management can be very enjoyable. One example of this is music therapy, a creative way to reduce or eliminate tension and provide an uplifted spirit. Select relaxing music that you enjoy, that makes you happy. Music therapy has been known to increase your breathing and distract your mind from pain and reduce stress.

PMR – Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) is another stress management approach that relieves muscular tension that accompanies stress. PMR involves tightening certain muscle groups then consciously relaxing these muscle groups. The theory being that you are better able to relax your muscles after consciously tensing them. PMR is most effective in managing stress when practiced in conjunction with deep breathing.

Exercise – Regular exercise is an excellent stress management tool. Any exercise that increases your heart rate for twenty or more minutes three or four times a week will help reverse the harmful effects of stress. Exercising produces endorphins, brain chemicals that produce feelings of calmness, happiness and even euphoria.

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