By: Malissa Hohenstein, Clinical Social Worker
Stress is a normal part of life but learning to manage it is key to your overall health. Stress can be caused by good experiences, such as buying a home or getting married, or bad experiences, such as losing a loved one or receiving a tough medical diagnosis.
When we are stressed, our bodies often experience physical and emotional reactions, including a racing heart, muscle tension, a churning stomach, excessive worry, poor sleep and feelings of sadness. Left unmanaged for a long period of time, stress can lead to more serious health problems, like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
How do you control your stress before it takes a toll on you? Consider these five tips:
- Exercise – This can be something simple like taking a brisk walk. It’s ideal to work up to 30 minutes a day, but if that’s not feasible, a short walk is better than nothing. Other ideas include more vigorous exercise like jogging, sporting activities and swimming. It might be easier to motivate yourself if you have a friend or family member join you.
- Play – As adults, many of us leave this part of our lives out all too much. Take part in a low-pressure activity that gets you laughing. Try playing cards or board games, watch a movie or go bowling with friends.
- Problem Solve – Sometimes humans feel the effects of stress and don’t take the time to pinpoint the cause. Identify what is causing your stress and look at all practical solutions to reduce or eliminate it from your life.
- Learn Relaxation Exercises – There are an entire range of relaxation exercises designed to reduce stress. Try deep breathing, meditation, yoga or massage therapy.
- Nutrition – One thing we can all agree upon is when we eat well, we feel better. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is not only a way to manage stress but also maintain a healthy lifestyle.
While these tips can help you manage your stress, they may not work for everyone. If you’re experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety or depression, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.