Ways to Stress Less and Improve Your Health

Everyday people find harmful ways to deal with stress. Among them are smoking, drinking, avoidance, overeating, withdrawal and lashing out at others. None of these are helpful and may add to more problems down the line. There are much healthier ways to deal with your difficult situations. Handling stress in healthy ways will put you more in control and in turn, reduce tension in your life.

  1. Make lists. We should challenge our brain. However, juggling daily errands and household tasks, your children’s schedules, and the things to purchase at the market can add to stress. Dr. Dennis Hensley, English professor at Taylor University, often speaks on the subject of time management. He advises making lists and getting the information out of your head, freeing your mind to think about other things, and take in new information. Try it, it worked for organizing this article.
  2. Don’t keep it to yourself. When something or someone is upsetting you on a regular basis, it is better to try to deal with the problem. The temporary discomfort of dealing with it now will be better than the long term stress caused by avoidance. If you can’t eliminate the situation, maybe you can at least try to talk to a supervisor, trusted friend or therapist.
  3. Send an encouraging card, letter or email. Find something nice to say about someone else. Think of a person who is also in a difficult circumstance and send them a special note or card. You will feel your own stress lift through uplifting another.
  4. Chat with a child. Children often have an uncluttered mind; they say what they are thinking. They also see life from a different perspective than adults. Talking to a child may even solve your dilemma. Even if doesn’t, it will probably serve to lighten your mood.
  5. Enjoy the sun while it’s out. Natural daylight helps shut off your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced at night that makes you drowsy. It also helps your body produce the serotonin which is sometimes called the “the happy effect”. Lack of serotonin can reduce energy causing you to be less productive. Sunlight can help you maintain a normal circadian rhythm, so you're more likely to feel energetic during the day and tired at bedtime when it's dark outside.
  6. Write, draw, or color. Creative pursuits, even simple ones, help relieve stress. Creativity requires some focus. Using your hands and directing your attention toward a project allows you to let go of tension. Even if you are no artist, just drawing silly faces, coloring, or painting a simple sunrise is quite cathartic. If you simply cannot find anything crafty to do, reading can sometimes provide the same focus, allowing your body to relax.
  7. Limit The News. A news broadcast is designed to be visual, fast-paced, and attention-getting. For some, the news can also be stress-inducing. One story assaults your senses while two or three more scroll by at the bottom of the screen. You feel like you must be missing something important. You can get the news you need with less intensity by looking through a newspaper or a website at your leisure. When you limit the amount of time you’re willing to devote to this type of programing, you might find you don’t need it as much as you once thought.
  8. Forgive. Holding on to grudges is more of a burden for the offended party than for anyone else. Not forgiving an offense can cause mental stress. Doctors also say grudges held long term can cause physical ailments and even break down the immune system.
  9. Drink water. Our body can be stressed by not drinking enough water. Headaches and joint aches are some early signs of inadequate water intake. Insufficient hydration can be mistaken for hunger. Your digestive track and eventually major organs are also stressed by not getting enough daily liquids.
  10. Hugs. Studies have shown that hugging can make you happier, and improve relationship bonds. Hugging plays a part in reducing high blood pressure. A 20-second hug increases a beneficial hormone, oxytocin making you feel calmer. The act of hugging also releases dopamine and serotonin which lifts your mood. Hug to your health.

As you can see, there are many healthier methods for dealing with common stressors. Rather than using harmful coping mechanisms, add these healthy options to your tool kit. The next time you’re overwhelmed you will have better options to handle the situation.

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