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6 steps to soothe stress

April 11, 2017

Stress often comes from dueling demands on your time.

You were already late getting everyone out of the house when your teenage son announced he couldn’t find his backpack — again. And then you got a text saying your can’t-miss morning meeting was starting 30 minutes early. You just knew it was going to be one of those days.

It’s hard to live a stress-free life. But too much stress isn’t good for your health or happiness.

“How we perceive stress has a tremendous effect on how stress affects our mental and physical health,” says Kettering Physician Network’s Kirk Chung, MD, medical director for Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center in Moraine. “Over time, it may cause you to lose sleep, have headaches or be depressed. It can make you irritable and angry. And it can raise your risk for serious illnesses, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Stress busters

If stress is a constant companion these days, give the following six stress-busters a try:

1. Ask yourself, “Am I taking on too much?” Often stress comes from dueling demands on your time. If family or work responsibilities are spilling off your plate, decide which tasks must get done now and which ones can wait. You can politely say no to new requests if you have more than you can handle.

2. Take charge — when you can. It is important to realize that you cannot control all the stressors in your life. Identify the ones you can and focus on changing them. If you are prone to procrastinating, break big projects into smaller tasks. If talking to a relative makes you tense, limit how much and how often you talk.

3. Nurture your body. Do you tend to head to the couch with your tablet or TV remote after a hectic day? Opt for a walk — even for 10 minutes — instead. Exercise releases mood-lifting endorphins. Eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding too much caffeine are other healthy ways to cope with stress.

4. Recharge your sense of joy. Even if your schedule seems maxed out, try to squeeze in time for activities you enjoy. Maybe that is working on a hobby, seeing a movie or having dinner with a friend.

5. Bring on the calm. Develop a list of go-to strategies for relieving stress when it strikes. Frazzled by a deadline? Close your eyes and sit quietly for a few minutes. Stuck in traffic? Turn on upbeat music to tune out tension. Exhausted after a long day at work? Take a warm shower to help ease tense muscles.

6. Tell a good listener. Everyone has a bad day now and then, and it may help to talk about yours with loved ones or trusted friends. You will face the next day a bit stronger with their love and support.