Positive ways to deal with stress

Learning to manage stress can help you live a healthier and longer life.

Stress is an normal emotional response to the demands of life. Everyone experiences it, and the results vary in intensity from being in a foul mood to more complicated illnesses. In fact, it is estimated that 75% to 90% of all illnesses are stress related. Learning to manage stress can help you live a healthier and longer life.

There are a number of ways to reduce stress. Consider approaching stress reduction from a physical, mental, and social standpoint. Here are a few ideas:

Physical Approaches:

  • Get regular exercise. You don’t need to go to a gym and pay for an expensive membership to get exercise. Although a gym membership and follow-through with physical activity will serve you well, you can take smaller steps to incorporate movement into your daily life. This might include parking farther away from the door when shopping, going for a walk or bike ride, or even getting up during commercials when watching television.
  • Improve your diet. Stress and diet are closely linked. When we are stressed, we tend to reach for the foods that are bad for us more often . Pay attention to your eating habits when you are under stress and watch for self-defeating trends.

Mental Approaches:

  • Keep a positive outlook. This can be difficult to do when we think of this in a general sense. Break it down by trying to identify things that are going well or that went well. This might include something as small as the fact that you didn’t have to stop at a red light on your way to work or maybe that the sun came out on a winter day.
  • Leave work at work. This may be easier said than done, but consider the benefits. Many times bringing work home is a sure way to stress out both ourselves and our families. Leaving work at work might be worth the extra effort.

Social Approaches:

  • Put effort into creating a support network. Friends are important to share both good and bad times with. Although stress may make us want to withdraw, it can be very helpful to spend time with friends and family who are supportive.

Stress is a natural part of life, but there are ways to deal with it in healthy ways. Make a plan to reduce the stress in your life! This information was adapted from the Community-Based Nurturing Parenting series which is offered throughout the state by Michigan State University Extension.

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