Nov 11, 2012

10 ways to reduce your stress By

Elizabeth Comeau

Stress can have an impact on your emotional -- and your physical -- health. So how can you manage and try to decrease your stress levels?

We asked Dr. JoAnne M. Foody, director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Program at Brigham & Women's Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, for small changes people can make in their daily lives to curb stress

"We can have a very short-term type of stress that can either be positive (excitement that the Sox or Bruins are winning) or more distressing (what we normally think of when we think of 'stress'); this is the type of stress we most often encounter in day-to-day life (e.g. traffic jams or dealing with road rage)," Foody says.

"Generally short term stress is less dangerous to our health than chronic stress, the type of stress that seems never-ending and inescapable, like the stress of a bad relationship or an extremely demanding job."

1. Set realistic goals for yourself

Don't set yourself up for failure. It is impossible to get an entire day's worth of work done in 15 minutes, don't even make that a goal to begin with. Keep what you want to get accomplished reasonable.

2. Organize your day

Take 15 minutes to plan things out. Organizing and planning will help you avoid losing so much time that might strain you while trying to recover it.

3. Take regular breaks from busy schedule

Our body needs rest to function properly. Short breaks in the day reduce stress and can increase productivity.

4. Learn to say no

Don't overcommit yourself. Time management is a key tool in stress management, so don't promise more than you can handle.

5. Have a hobby

Research shows that stress is lowest and energy is highest when engaged in activities we enjoy most.

6. Talk it out

"A problem shared is half solved." Talk to a close friend or relation if you are stressed out. Just the act of talking it out may make you feel better.

7. Laugh

Foody says laughter truly IS the best medicine. Try to find a way to lighten the situation or circumstance.

8. Reduce coffee, alcohol, tobacco

All three of these things can increase chemicals in the body that increase heart rate and can exacerbate stress.

9. Exercise daily

Exercising releases chemicals known as endorphins that help naturally combat stress and improve mood. In particular, yoga is a wonderful way to get exercise and to learn to relax and breathe properly.

10. Count to 10

When faced with a difficult problem, count backward from 10 and take a deep breath. Deep breathing can be particularly helpful.

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