8 ways to reduce stress

Stress is a normal part of life. Most people are confronted with difficult situations every day. Over time, the daily grind can wear on people. Whether it’s work, child care, school or mounting health issues, learning to cope with the stresses you face day in and day out is crucial to improved mental and physical health. Stress is the body’s reaction to overwhelming demand. Using different tools and coping mechanisms will bring a little peace to your life.

  1. Smile. It might be the last thing you want to do when facing a tight deadline or balancing your check book, but smiling can actually trigger the emotional center of the brain to restore calm. People typically smile when they’re relaxed and happy, so our brains are wired to respond positively to an ear-to-ear grin.
  2. Turn to your support network. Friends, family and counselors are usually a good source of support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talk about what’s causing your stress and you’ll feel like a bit of the weight has been lifted. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Learn to say no. If you’re constantly agreeing to requests on your own time, that doesn’t leave you with much time for yourself. Learn to take a minute for yourself without feeling guilty.
  4. Meditate. Meditation can take many forms. Whether you set aside some quiet time to concentrate on breathing or paint a picture, concentration meditation can reduce stress by forcing your mind to focus on one thing.
  5. Go for a walk. Physical activity is a great tool for managing stress. It improves circulation and forces you to breathe more deeply.  The endorphins released during exercise can improve your mood and better regulate sleep, tension, depression and the immune system.
  6. Get some rest. Sleep rejuvenates the body and mind. Make sure you’re getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night to maintain your health. Being well rested can better prepare you for a tough day ahead.
  7. Be social. Make plans with family or friends on the weekends. Having tickets to a concert or sporting event or just going to dinner or a movie will give you something to look forward to. It also forces you to take a break from daily stresses.
  8. Strive for balance. If you find that work is one of the big stressors in your life, try to restore a good balance between the office and your personal life. Too much focus on work can tack on a lot of added stress.

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