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May 1, 2019

Managing Stress

This article was originally published in Mosaic Newsletter for Fall 2018 / Winter 2019

Stress is any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest. Anybody can experience stress, but if it starts taking over your life, then managing it can be a challenge.

Here are some useful procedures to managing stress:

1. Meditation
One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is doing meditation exercises. This involves closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Pick a quiet place to do it in a room without distractions. Playing ambient music or nature sounds in the background is helpful to some people who practice meditation. Yoga and tai chi can aid in the process of meditation as well.

2. Prayer
If you are of a specific faith persuasion, prayer is a useful way to confront feelings of anxiety. Talking out your fears and concerns through prayer has been scientifically proven to bring about healing, and possibly a longer life span. For those of you who are not religious, practicing positive self-talk can bring you out of the stress you might be feeling.

3. Exercise
Physical activity has been recommended by many in the medical community to combat stress. Walking, running, lifting weights or playing a sport burns both calories and feelings of tension. A regular exercise regimen can make you stronger, both physically and mentally.

4. Go outside
Connect with nature and make an effort to go outside at least once a day. If it is raining, snowing or a bit cloudy, travel a short distance. If it is a bright sunny day with a comfortable temperature, then venture outside longer, even it is just a stroll around a few blocks. Going outside can re-energize your thoughts and help you relax.

5. Listen to music
The sounds of music can restore calmness, regardless of the genre. It doesn’t have to come from a slow song, either. Some faster songs help too, especially by artists you know and like. 

6. Seek more social stimulation
A frustrating thing about being an adult is not being able to spend enough time with your friends or family. Everybody is busy these days, but don’t use that as an excuse to retreat into isolation. Go out and meet new people if you can. Even if they don’t turn into friendships, the experience of conversing with others can pump some positive energy back into you.

7. Do a good deed
Helping somebody in need takes your mind off your own problems and can make you feel better. If you and the person you have helped are happy, then it is a win-win for the both of you!

8. Refrain from drugs, alcohol and smoking
Having an addiction to any of these will not relieve your stress, but will likely make it worse. Why bother damaging your health by experiencing an artificial high?

9. Cut back on caffeine and sugar
We love our caffeine and sugar, don’t we? You might want to consider cutting back on those feel-good chemicals, because they can impede relaxation and increase feelings of nervousness.

10. Disconnect from the online world whenever possible.
Internet addiction can cause stress, especially if you are scrolling through negative news stories at night. Reading or listening to the news, especially in the late hours of the day, can cause distress and impair your ability to maintain perspective. Establishing an Internetfree day once a week to reconnect with people or personal hobbies can be beneficial to your overall health.

11. Develop a better sleep routine
Sleep is crucial. Sleep helps you recharge and disengage from whatever problems you may be experiencing. It is important to get a good night’s sleep, for which six to eight hours each night (or day) is recommended. What links all these suggested stress-reduction strategies together is that they all pertain to your physical and mental stamina. While it is impossible to have a stress-free life, it is possible to reduce its effects. 

Life is short, so enjoy as much of it as you can to the fullest.


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