Stress Happens! Learn how to manage it | UHSM

It’s National Stress Awareness Month!

Stress, especially chronic stress, can lead to physical and mental ailments, including high blood pressure and heart disease. It can diminish the immune system, increasing susceptibility to contracting colds and other common infections. It can contribute to asthma, digestive disorders, cancer, and other health problems. New research even supports the notion that high-stress levels speed up aging. Over time, chronic stress can become debilitating. It can also increase the risk of severe health complications like obesity, depression, and heart disease.

The facts are clear; 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical and/or mental health. Managing stress and finding healthy ways to cope with stressful situations can contribute significantly to living a healthy and positive life. While it is unavoidable for most of us, there are many ways to help recognize and manage the everyday stresses found in daily life. Taking action today to reduce stress can positively affect your short and long-term health.

So when things get overwhelming, and it starts feeling like every day is a stress awareness day, take a look at these five tips for managing stress in your life:

1. Engage in self-relaxation.

Use guided meditation, deep breathing techniques or sincere prayer to combat stressful times. Relaxation techniques can include progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, guided imagery and mindfulness. Deep breathing helps slow down the heart rate and lower blood pressure while relaxing muscles.

2. Maintain good nutrition and rest.

Good nutrition and rest are critical to reducing stress and promoting overall good health. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet can help keep your body functioning at its best, better enabling you to cope with stressors. To get adequate restorative sleep each night, maintain a regular bedtime routine by avoiding stimulants like caffeine late in the day and keeping electronics out of the bedroom.

3. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise is another key component when it comes to managing stress levels. Whether it’s high-energy activities like running and spinning or low-impact activities like yoga or swimming are stress relievers and leads to better sleep. Start off slow with low-impact exercises like walking or stretching and gradually increase intensity over time. Consider incorporating exercise into your daily activities – tomorrow, take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

4. Connect with others.

Spending time with family and friends can help you feel better. Confiding in a friend may also help you work out your problems. Human connection is a powerful tool for stress reduction and contributes positively to mental health. Connecting with family and friends through conversation, shared activities, and expressing needs and appreciation can help create an environment of emotional safety and support that helps minimize stress.

5. Learn to say no.

If you’re taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Taking on too much responsibility or attempting to please everybody can lead to burnout. Learn when to draw the line, prioritize what is important and put your own mental health first. This may mean turning down requests or canceling plans to make time for yourself.

Stress management has many benefits, from improved physical health to better mental well-being. Some of the key advantages of taking the time to manage stress are improved concentration, enhanced productivity, improved relationships, better decision-making and increased resilience. Taking the time to manage stress can help to ensure it does not become overwhelming while making it easier to remain healthy and productive.

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