What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress

While we’ve all heard that stress is bad for our health, very few people actually take this statement to heart. In addition to playing a role in inducing heart attacks and strokes, stress can increase blood pressure, damage white blood cells, contribute to digestive problems (constipation, stomach problems, and diarrhea) and wreak havoc with your immune system, opening the floodgates to more frequent colds and infections and undermining your long-term health. If you’re already suffering with a chronic illness – especially inflammatory conditions such as colitis and eczema, or   autoimmune disorders such as lupus, MS, or rheumatoid arthritis, getting stress in check is critical.

The best way to manage stress is by developing coping techniques. Coping techniques are as individual as personalities, so if one doesn’t work for you don’t stress about it – just move on until you find one that suits. For example:

  • Write – Putting pen to paper (or clicking away on a keyboard) is therapeutic! Writing about stressful events will    help put them into perspective and will provide clues to the sources of stress in your life.
  • Start a Hobby – Carve time out of your busy week to do something you enjoy.
  • Exercise – A regular exercise routine is one of the best ways you can manage stress. Taking a brisk, 20 minute walk five times a week is a great way to get started. Remember to stretch to relieve muscle tension.
  • Go to Your Happy Place – Though it may sound corny, guided imagery is very effective in reducing stress. With guided imagery, you imagine yourself in any setting that helps you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Meditate – Slow down, pay attention to your body, and focus on the present. Sitting quietly without “doing” anything, and focusing entirely on the present moment for just 10-15 minutes each day is a powerful stress reducer.
  • Breathe – Develop a few deep breathing techniques to put into action whenever you need to relax or relieve stress.
  • Relax – Progressive muscle relaxation is an excellent stress reducing technique that combines deep breathing with muscle relaxation. To begin, you isolate each group of muscles, and then clench the muscle while breathing in, and relax the muscle while breathing out. Start with your toes, and work your way up to the top of your head.

Do some dabbling to see which stress reducing technique works the best for you. Remember, in the long run, relaxing and managing stress might just save your life.

So, are you stressed? What are you doing about it? Share your relaxation tips and techniques – I’d love to hear about them.


4 Responses

  1. Due to my health interest, I agree with all that was mentioned to “conquer” stress. It is a daily challenge for all of us and the need to put these little helps into action is more important than what we realise.

    May I suggest one more, and that is nutrition? This is sometimes overseen as a stress factor, but if the wrong foods are eaten, our bodies get sent into a stress mode by having to deal with all that has entered…for instance, the body is more stressed eating a hamburger than a fruit lunch. So, it would help to avoid heavy or cooked foods as much as possible. These cause the body to use far more energy as to fresh products. Therefore energy is used to digest the food over a longer period, and there is then a lack of energy on other spheres.

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