Fight stress with healthy habits

Fight Stress with Healthy Habits
Stress is your body’s response to change. It is very individual. A situation that one person
may find stressful may not disturb someone else. For example, one person may become
tense when having to get onto an airplane; another person may find being on an airplane a
source of relaxation. Something that causes fear in one person such as race car driving
may be fun for others. Everyone is so different and not all stress is bad. Watching your child
play a close game of basketball may be stressful, but it can also be fun. Life would actually
be boring without some stress. The goal is to manage stress in healthy ways, because
unhealthy responses to stress may cause health problems in some people.
How does stress affect you? Some common responses to stress include:aches and pains,
headache, backache, neck ache, stomachache, tight muscles, and clenched jaw. A
person’s energy level and sleep are affected, and he or she may feel tired without having a
reason and may also have difficulty sleeping. One’s feelings are also very affected by
stress. Some common feelings are anxiety, anger, depression, helplessness, loss of
control, and feeling tense. It is also common for a person under stress to feel easily irritated,
impatient and forgetful.
In what ways do you respond to stress? Do any of the following apply to you?
I eat to calm down.I speak and eat very fast.I drink alcohol or smoke to calm down.I rush
around but do not get very much done.I work too much.I delay doing the things that I need
to do.I don’t sleep enough, or I sleep too much.I try to do too many things at one time.
If you engage in any of these behaviors it may mean that you are not dealing with your
stress as well as you could.
Fight Stress with Healthy Habits
Healthy habits can protect you from the destructive effects of stress. The following are
positive habits that can be very helpful to develop:
1. Talk with family and friends. It is always helpful to have friendships. It can be helpful to
call or write your family and friends to share your feelings, thoughts, hopes and happy
times.2. Engage in some type of daily physical exercise. It is very helpful to have regular
physical activity to help relieve mental and physical tension. It has been found that
physically active adults have a lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning.
Physical activity can also be a great source of pleasure. For example, try walking, biking,
running, swimming or dancing.3. Accept the things you cannot change. Try not to think of
yourself as too old. You can always learn new things, work towards a goal, love, and be
helpful to others.4. Remember to laugh. Laughter makes you feel good. Do not be afraid to
laugh out loud at a joke, or a funny movie, even when you are alone.5. Give up bad habits.
Too much alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine can contribute to an increase in stress.6. Try to
slow down. Try to pace yourself. It can be helpful to plan ahead and allow enough time to
get the most important tasks done.7. Get enough sleep. Try to get six to eight hours of
sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping physical activity may help improve the quality
of sleep.8. Get organized. Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your important tasks.
Approach large tasks one step at a time.9. Practice giving back. Volunteer your time or
return a favor to a friend. When you help others it will help you.10. Try not to worry. The
world will not end if your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to get it done, but today may
not be the right time.

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