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Fresh tips to reduce stress

Published in Behavioral Health Services, Heart & Vascular Author: Kathleen Mahon, RN, MN, CNP, APHN

Reality is that all of us face stress every day. While stress can help motivate us to persevere under difficult circumstances or complete a big project under a tight deadline, constant negative stress also can contribute to anxiety, high blood pressure and take a toll on your health. Many of us recognize the need to reduce stress in our lives, so it can help to review ideas for taking action to implement this in our daily lives.

  • Prioritize. List your priorities the evening prior or at the start of the day. Note 2-3 “must do” items and do your best to complete them by the end of the day. It can be simple things like stop at the store and pick up x, y and z, call a friend and congratulate him on his promotion, clean the bathroom or set up a date night with my spouse. 
  • Accept the circumstances. We can’t control other people, the weather, and many other factors and events in our lives. Choosing to live in a state of acceptance can help stop a train of negative thoughts and attitudes. 
  • Put it in perspective. Recognize the major factors currently causing you stress. Take a step back to consider if this will matter in one year, five years, how about 100 years? Reflect on family, friends and coworkers who may be facing more difficult circumstances such as unemployment, illness or death of a loved one.
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Negativity and complaining can fuel stress. Grateful people tend to have more emotional resilience, are better able to maintain a positive mood and tend to have stronger relationships. When you notice yourself focusing or grumbling on a negative event or person, pause and list four or five things you for which you are grateful.
  • Get moving. Take a jog or a bike ride to recharge physically and mentally. If you don’t have the time or energy for a full workout, just taking a 10-minute walk or completing a few sets with free weights can still help clear your head and reduce stress.
  • Go outside. There is something calming and relaxing about fresh air and the natural environment. Soak in the sunshine, smell the roses, watch the clouds and listen to the birds.
  • Take a technology break. Technology has improved our personal and work lives in many ways, but it also has blurred the lines between work and home life. The feeling that you are “on” 24/7 can add to your stress. Being accessible is an important part of many jobs, but only you can decide when your phone turned off or put away for an hour or an evening.
  • Do something you enjoy each day. Even 10 minutes spent reading a book, practicing your golf swing, knitting or coloring can be powerful mood lifter. Develop a hobby that helps you take regular breaks from the stress and responsibility of life.
  • Get enough sleep. After a long and difficult day when nothing seemed to go your way, going to bed early and getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders to improve your outlook and energy level.

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