Stress Makes You Sick.
Stress suppresses the immune system and has been linked to many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Stress can make you fat and even kill.
How can we learn to live in these stress-filled times without succumbing to its ill effects?
Here are ten strategies for relieving stress:
Take time each day to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing, inhaling and exhaling through your nose while feeling the rib cage expand in all directions. I've begun to incorporate this into my life for five minutes first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to sleep. It helps begin and end our days with the parasympathetic nervous system in charge which is a key to stress management and deep relaxation. Try to return to deep breathing whenever you think of it during the day, especially in stressful situations and see how much difference something as simple as deep conscious breathing can make you feel.
Related: 3 Breathing Exercises for You to Try:
#2 Give Thanks
Cultivating gratitude can be a real game changer. Research has shown that people who feel gratitude are happier, report more life satisfaction, and report less stress. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.
One of the best ways to counter stress is to do one thing at a time. Multitasking has become a way of life. People talk on a cell phone while commuting to work, or scan the news while returning emails. We think we are accomplishing more, but we are actually accomplishing less and creating tons of stress in the process. The flood of adrenaline and other stress hormones unleashed by trying to do too much at once can actually cause permanent damage to the brain cells that store memories.
So what should a person do when the phone rings and the email pings? Try to organize your life to cut down on multitasking as much as possible. Focus on one thing at a time as much as possible. That means ignoring the phone and turning off your email alerts while you're working on an important project. You can always check your messages later. When that task is over, take a break to clear your thoughts and refresh your mind.
A strong social support network can be critical to help you through the stress of tough times so be sure to make love and friendship top priorities in your life. Schedule time with your loved ones and stay in touch with supportive friends. Social connection helps alleviate the effects of stress, builds a sense of belonging minimizing isolation and loneliness, improves health, and encourages the release of stress-lowering hormones.
Keeping a journal or diary is more than just a way to document your experiences and record your thoughts. Recent research shows that journaling is an effective stress relief exercise. It may help you reduce the amount of worrying you do, too. If you are interested in journaling, it is easy to get started. All you need is a computer or a pen and paper.
Take some time for yourself in a quiet, comfortable environment where you won't be interrupted. Date your journal entry and just start writing. There are no set rules. You can write about anything that comes to your mind, and your journal entry can be as long or short as you like. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation; just write your thoughts as they come to you.
Make a list of things that bring you joy and another list of things that deplete your energy. Try to keep track every day for a week. Then begin working to incorporate more things that bring joy into your daily life and letting go of the energy drainers where you can.
#7 Cultivate Compassion
Begin with yourself. It is not selfish; it is self-preservation and necessary for your health and well-being. Show yourself kindness. Be indulgent with yourself. Only from a place of true self-compassion can you be authentically kind to others.
#8 Take a Timeout
Visualize a peaceful place. Memorize an empowering phrase. Turn to these in times of stress to bring you back to center and calm down.
Set aside some time each day doing something that helps you decompress--take a walk, do yoga, talk with a friend, have a bath, read something uplifting.
#10 Schedule a Siesta
Studies show that people who nap for thirty minutes at least three times a week are 37% less likely to die from a heart attack. Give yourself permission to give it a try. Find a quiet space, close your eyes and try to drift off for just ten or fifteen minutes and see how refreshed you feel.
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