Look At Your Lifestyle
The choices you make about the way you live affect your stress level. Your lifestyle may not cause stress on its own, but it can prevent your body from recovering from it. Try to:
- Find a balance between personal, work, and family needs. This isn’t easy. Start by looking at how you spend your time. Maybe there are things that you don’t need to do at all. Finding a balance can be especially hard during the holidays.
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Quick Ways To Reduce Stress
Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, there isnt always time to take a nap, hike a fourteener, or read a novel. Thus, here are 25 ways to reduce stress in five minutes or less. From eating chocolate to meditating, there is a quick stress-relieving tactic for everyone.
1. BreatheSlow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Try pranayama breathing, a yogic method that involves breathing through one nostril at a time to relieve anxiety. The technique is supposed to work the same way as acupuncture, balancing the mind and body.
2. Listen to Music No matter what the song, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If youre in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing right before bedtime.
3. Take a Quick Walk When youre feeling overwhelmed or having trouble concentrating, go for a quick stroll around the block. Youll get the benefits of alone time, physical activity, and a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
4. Find the Sun If its a sunny day, head outside for an easy way to lift your spirits. Bright light can be an effective treatment for people who suffer from depression, and can even cheer up otherwise healthy people.
8. Rub Your Feet Over a Golf Ball You can get an impromptu, relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
12. Be Alone
Passengers On The Bus Metaphor
We are often driven by emotions, thoughts, memories, and urges that we have little understanding of, never mind control over. The Passengers on the Bus metaphor helps individuals to accept and manage the difficulties that arise in their lives by bringing them to life in a relatable way.
In this metaphor, experiences are represented by passengers on a bus. The client is the driver of the bus and can look back at the passengers before returning attention to the road ahead.
The benefits of the metaphor are backed up by research. Cancer survivors asked to identify persistently challenging thoughts, feelings, and memories/images about cancer using the bus metaphor showed lower levels of anxiety brought on by prolonged stress from their illness .
Clients can work with their therapist to get to know their passengers on the bus whether emotions, feelings, or thoughts understand what they do, and recognize how they influence the clients actions.
Click to download the Passengers on the Bus worksheet and give it a try.
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Personal Problems That Can Cause Stress
- Your health, especially if you have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis
- Emotional problems, such as anger you can’t express, depression, grief, guilt, or low self-esteem
- Your relationships, such as having problems with your relationships or feeling a lack of friendships or support in your life
- Major life changes, such as dealing with the death of a parent or spouse, losing your job, getting married, or moving to a new city
- Stress in your family, such as having a child, teen, or other family member who is under stress, or being a caregiver to a family member who is elderly or who has health problems
- Conflicts with your beliefs and values. For example, you may value family life, but you may not be able to spend as much time with your family as you want.
How To Use Stress Medicine
It’s important to remember that you should never take any anxiety drugs alone, and you should try to avoid them if possible.
Medications are not evil – certainly not as evil as many people will tell you. But mental health medications have downsides. It’s more than just side effects. Medications can actually harm your ability to cope with stress in the future, because of:
- Physiological Dependence That’s when the body requires the medicine because it’s adapted to the effects. Your brain starts to depend on it, to the point where your natural stress coping ability gets even worse. If you stop taking the medication, you’ll suffer from intense side effects. You have to wean off it slowly, and you have to take it every day even if you’re not feeling anxious that day.
- Psychological Dependence Perhaps more troubling is psychological dependence. This is when you depend so much on the medicine that you don’t do anything else to cure your anxiety. When you stop taking the medication and experience some stress, you’re going to want to go immediately back to medication, and this type of behavior can make it much harder to cope with anxiety.
It’s important to keep that in mind. You need to make sure that you’re only choosing a medicine as a last resort because of these risks, and even if you do choose a stress medicine and feel better, make sure that you’re still learning proper coping strategies so that your anxiety doesn’t come back when you stop taking the medicine.
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Government Of Canada’s Role
The Government of Canada works to help Canadians maintain and improve their mental health, including coping with stress. Within its jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works to:
- generate and disseminate knowledge, and support both knowledge generation and dissemination activities undertaken by other organizations
- strengthen the capacity of the primary health care, home care and acute care sectors to effectively deliver mental health programs and services
- provide leadership and governance
- develop social marketing campaigns
- conduct surveillance on health trends in the population
- In 2007, the federal government provided funding to establish and support a Mental Health Commission to lead the development of a national mental health strategy.
Mindfulness And Mantra Meditation
Mindfulness is an ancient form of meditation that promotes awareness of whats happening in the moment.
It encourages you to focus on your body, your thoughts, and whats going on around you.
Mantra meditation, on the other hand, is the opposite of mindfulness. In this practice, you place all your attention on a single target, like a mantra, a candle flame, or a phrase.
In both types of meditations, whenever your mind wanders — and it will Smith says — you simply re-focus.
It’s a brain skill, he says. In that in the first 2 weeks you won’t be able to do it very well. Your mind will constantly chatter and distract, and that’s normal, that happens.
But as you practice, youll get better at it.
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How Stress Affects Your Thoughts And Emotions
You might notice signs of stress in the way you think, act, and feel. You may:
- Feel cranky and unable to deal with even small problems.
- Feel frustrated, lose your temper more often, and yell at others for no reason.
- Feel jumpy or tired all the time.
- Find it hard to focus on tasks.
- Worry too much about small things.
- Feel that you are missing out on things because you can’t act quickly.
- Imagine that bad things are happening or about to happen.
How stress affects you depends on many things, such as:
- Your personality.
Accept The Things You Can’t Change
Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. Try to concentrate on the things you do have control over.
“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, for example, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper.
“In a situation like that, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”
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How Can You Relieve Stress
You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which ones work for you:
- Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.
- Write. It can help to write about the things that are bothering you.
- Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to with someone you trust.
- Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.
- Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or relaxing exercises like tai chi and qi gong.
- Focus on the present. Try meditation and imagery exercises. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.
Stress Relief Techniques To The Rescue
Activities that switch on the bodys natural relaxation response feel great, Buenaver says. And they have been proven by research to improve sleep. They help by reducing the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and by slowing your heart rate and breathing. Your body and mind calm down.
Yoga, tai chi and meditation are helpful stress relief techniques. So are these two simple exercises that Buenaver recommends to patients who are struggling with sleepless nights.
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. It may help to close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly in and out for about five minutes. As you inhale, breathe down into your belly. Focus on your breath.
- If youd like, repeat to yourself, Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping.
Progressive muscle relaxation:
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Take a few gentle breaths, in and out.
- Begin tensing groups of muscles one at a time as you breathe. Hold the tension as you inhale, then release it as you exhale. Take a few breaths as you notice how relaxed each muscle group feels.
- Start with the muscles in your head, neck and face. Move down to your shoulders, hands and arms, back, stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet.
- Repeat for any areas that are still tense.
As you go through this exercise, feel the presence and absence of tension so you can spot lingering tension and do something about it, Buenaver says.
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Tips To Relieve Stress
When you feel stressed, you can:
- Take slow, deep breaths.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Have a massage or back rub.
- Have a warm drink that doesn’t have alcohol or caffeine.
You also can make some changes in your everyday habits to reduce and relieve stress.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Stay connected to your family, friends, and other caring people in your life.
- Get regular exercise. It can help you clear your mind and work off feelings of frustration and anxiety.
- Don’t drink or eat anything that has caffeine in it. Caffeine can make you feel “wound up” and more stressed.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Nicotine can make you feel more anxious.
- Don’t drink alcohol. It can cause sleep problems and .
Talk It Out With A Friend
When youre feeling stressed, take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle.
Theyre especially important when youre under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
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Have You Had Any Recent Major Life Changes
Life changes such as getting married, moving to a new city, or losing a job can all be stressful. You can’t always control these things, but you can control how you respond to them.
To find out your current stress level based on recent changes in your life, try this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
How To Handle Stress At Work
- Luana Marques, PhD, Contributor
If youre currently working, you probably know what it feels like to be stressed on the job. A must-do project arrives without warning. Three emails stack up for each one you delete. Phones ring, meetings are scheduled, a coworker drops the ball on a shared assignment.
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Erligpowht Light Therapy Lamp
- Price: $
- How it may help with anxiety: Sun lamps help decrease anxiety and improve the moods of those with seasonal affective disorder.
A study found that a sun lamp which mimics natural outdoor light may help to improve mood and decrease depression and anxiety in those with major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, or seasonal affective disorder.
The lightweight and rotatable Erligpowht Light Therapy Lamp is highly rated on Amazon, with four different time settings and three dimming brightness levels.
Its compact enough to put in a cubicle and has a simple, neutral design that can blend into most home decor.
Before buying a sun lamp, be sure to speak with your doctor. Look for one with an intensity of 10,000 lux, and be sure not to look directly at the light. Try to use it at the same time every day.
Other Types Of Relaxation Techniques
Many de-stressing therapies have common goals. They aim to help you pay attention to your body and focus on aspects of your breathing or other exercises that will lower your blood pressure and increase feelings of well-being. You can try:
- Biofeedback, which measures body functions and helps you learn to control them.
- Self-hypnosis, in which a practitioner teaches you to relax when you hear a phrase or get a nonspoken cue.
- Massage therapy, which can include Swedish, sports, Shiatsu, or other types of massage.
- Music therapy, when a therapist uses music to accomplish health goals.
- Art therapy, which uses art to enhance your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
- Aromatherapy, or using essential oils as a type of treatment.
- Hydrotherapy, which can include soaking, compresses, or even steam baths.
While relaxation practices are mostly safe for heathy people, there have been reports of negative impacts, such as increased stress, bad thoughts, or a fear of losing control. Talk to your doctor about what practice might be best for you, depending on the relaxation technique you want to try and your health.
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Gamma Ray Optics Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- Price: $
- How it may help with anxiety: Blue light can disrupt our brains natural sleep-wake cycles. Blocking this light contributes to a better nights sleep, which may reduce anxiety.
Weve all heard the news that blue light before bed is one of the most common sleep disruptors. While its a nice idea to power down a few hours before bed and pull out a book instead, thats not always possible.
What is possible is reducing the visual strain caused by regular computer and smartphone use. These Gamma Ray Optics glasses were created to block the blue light that could disrupt your sleep patterns and affect your mental health.
Stress Relief Activities You Can Do At Home
You may not be able to zen out at your desk or practice yoga on your commute, but you can in the comfort of your own living room. Weve included stress relief activities you can do with your partner or kids that may help cheer them up too!
Browse through some of the best relaxation techniques to try out at home. Dont be afraid to let it all out . Its worth it if it makes you smile!
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Here Are Some Easy Stress
Glitters jars are also called calm-down or calming jars because they can help focus your mind. They promote mindfulness and reduce anxiety. When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try shaking your jar and taking a few moments to watch the glitter swirl and settle. This little time-out gives your mind a much-needed stress break. You can use any color glitter you would like. Add food coloring to the water for a pop of color.
Social And Job Issues That Can Cause Stress
- Your surroundings. Living in an area where overcrowding, crime, pollution, or noise is a problem can create chronic stress.
- Your social situation. Not having enough money to cover your expenses, feeling lonely, or facing discrimination based on your race, gender, age, or sexual orientation can add stress to your life.
- Your job. Being unhappy with your work or finding your job too demanding can lead to chronic stress. Learn how to manage job stress.
- Unemployment. Losing your job or not being able to find work can also add to your stress level.
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