Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. It is important to be able to identify when you need to take steps to reduce stress.
Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.
The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked and stress-related tension builds.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress — a negative stress reaction. Distress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.
Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy Steps to Reduce Stress you may want to develop.
10 Steps to Reduce Stress
- Talk with family and friends.
A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or writer friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
- Engage in daily physical activity.
Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
- Embrace the things you are able to change.
While we may not be able to do some of the things we once enjoyed, we are never too old to learn a new skill, work toward a goal, or love and help others.
- Remember to laugh.
Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when we’re alone.
- Give up the bad habits.
Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Slow down.
Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.
- Get enough sleep.
Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
- Get organized.
Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
- Practice giving back.
Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you.
- Try not to worry.
The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.
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