Friday, February 12, 2010

Live a Stress-Free Life!

Had a run-in with your boss or a fight with your sister — and can't stop thinking about it? Are you overloaded with projects at work and errands at home? Our lives are jam-packed with stress — and that can take a toll on our body and health. Long-term uncontrolled stress can cause chronic conditions like high blood pressure, headaches, and ulcers. Stress can also weaken your body's natural defenses so you're likely to get sick more often.

You don't have to live with stress! There are so many simple ways to cut stress and take back control of your life.

Say no! If you don't have time for or can't realistically accomplish someone's request without straining yourself, do not agree to it. In most cases, people will understand that you need to put yourself first. If you can't say no to your boss, for example, try not to take on more than you know you can handle.

Set priorities. We don't always have the luxury of saying no to daily tasks, so stay organized by making a list of everything you need to do. Prioritize your list so you can take care of the most vital items first.

Stay positive! Stress is not inevitable; it's the way your body reacts to the situation you're in, so it's completely controllable. Keep yourself calm by maintaining a positive attitude. It helps to choose an inspiriting mantra that you can repeat to yourself or image that you can visualize.

Burn off your stress! Go for a brisk walk or bike ride, or lift weights to let off some steam. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins — chemicals that help you feel better — which help reduce your stress level.

Practice deep breathing. When we get stressed out, our breathing tends to speed up. So take a break and sit somewhere comfortable and quiet to focus on taking deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Playing soft music can enhance the calming effect.

Treat yourself! If you had an unusually stressful day or just finished a big, stressful project, go ahead and reward yourself! Not with food, of course, but with something that will help you relax. How about a pedicure or massage, a long bubble bath, or a great book you can curl up with?

Reach out to others. We can't do it all alone, so don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. A co-worker or supervisor may be able to shed light on a work problem, while your spouse or kids can pitch in to help with household stresses. Even if you must take care of some task or problem yourself, it still helps to talk it over with a friend.

There's no reason to be bogged down by stress for another day. There are seven stress-busting strategies here — put one of them to work every day in the coming week!

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