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Stress Reduction Exercises: How To Manage Your Stress Levels

Apr 6, 2008
Stress is the result of the physical and emotional effects that continuous change has on our bodies and minds. Although stress can have positive influence on behavior, such as urging a person to quick action or offering a fresh perspective on problems, it does more harm than good. Stress can arouse emotions of anger, mistrust, rejection and depression and physical symptoms of rashes, migraines, indigestion and ulcers. More serious consequences of stress include cardiac problems, strokes and hypertension.

While it is true that stress is an inherent part of human life, it is not true that we have to live with the problem. Since it is usually change of some sort that brings about stress, adjusting comfortably to new situations can help combat stress and its unpleasant effects. We're not trying to eliminate stress; we do need that kind of pressure and excitement to meet deadlines, compete and achieve high levels of performance. Without a certain amount of pressure, we would be bored and de-motivated. What we need to do is channelize stress, manage it, so that urges us on without breaking us down!

Here are some simple stress reduction exercises:

Firstly, assess the stress you face and your reactions to it. Find out how you can change what's bothering and deal with the root problem. If you can't change things, don't let yourself become frustrated with your inability: work around the problem or learn how to cope with it calmly.

Learn to say "no" when you don't really want to do something - it saves trouble in the end; and learn how and when to relax. Make sure you get enough time to just be yourself. Try to do things you really enjoy.

There are also some stress reducer tools that you can apply to manage stress. For one, reduce your reaction - take a moderate, more positive view and you'll find stress easier to manage. Use breathing as a calming technique - slow, deep inhalation and exhalation will reduce tension and help you gain control over your reactions.

Make sure your physical reserves of energy are well-stocked up. Regular exercise, a healthy weight, good nutrition habits and adequate leisure time are all conducive to battling stress. You'll find yourself less susceptible if your life is healthy and happy! Try to avoid nicotine and alcohol, too - they are temporary stress-easers, but will not help you in the long run.

And as far as emotional reserves are concerned, make sure you have lots of good friends and supportive family relationships. Don't get bogged down by setbacks and failure - they're just part of life - so be realistic. And don't forget to be nice to yourself!

Some prescription medications can help reduce stress, but you should not get dependent on them. It is better to rely on simple, non-chemical methods. More formal stress reducer tools include exercise, meditation, conflict resolution, autogenic training, relaxation techniques, time management and cognitive therapy. Listening to music can be very effective, laughter eases stress like nothing else can; and sex is a great way to unwind, too!
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