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Simple Ways

To Reduce


Debbie Schroeder RN, BSN
Professional Health Coach

Do you have too much stress in your life?  Do you realize that high levels of stress can lead to significant medical problems?  In this article I will discuss some common causes of stress, the harmful effects of stress on your health and some simple steps you can put in place to immediately reduce your stress.

According to the American Institute of Stress, it has been estimated that 75 to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related problems.  This is a staggering statistic.  We are constantly bombarded by stressful situations at work, in our families, while driving in our car, listening to news programs, reading the newspaper and the list goes on and on.

It is critical that you start to learn what causes you stress and develop techniques to manage your stress.  If you don't take control of your stressors, they will begin to deplete your energy and lead to significant medical problems.  Chronic stress has been shown linked to: accelerated aging, headaches, heart disease, increase blood pressure, increase blood sugar, ulcers, stomach disorders, skin disorders, depression, anxiety, asthma, arthritis and adrenal fatigue. 

Stress has become a significant part of most people's lives. We don't even realize we are under stress.  An important first step to managing your stress is to become aware of what causes you stress and how you react when you are under stress.  To increase your awareness about stress, start a stress journal.  Record in a notebook, when you notice you are stressed, what led to your stress and how you reacted when you were stressed.  Some people will find that when they become stressed they eat, reach for alcohol, yell at someone, become depressed or anxious; notice how you react and write it down.

It will be easier to learn to manage and deal with your stress once you are aware of what is causing you stress.  After a week or two of recording and monitoring your stress, you will then be ready to implement some techniques to reduce your stress.

Here are some simple tips you can do to immediately reduce your stress level:

  1. Find time to incorporate a period of silence during the day.  Silence will slow down your organs, calm your brain and increase your awareness.
  2. Holding on to grudges or negative emotions will create a lot of stress.  Begin to forgive people, who may have hurt you, holding onto negative feelings about someone else will only create added stress.
  3. Daily meditation has been shown to promote a feeling of inner peace.  Meditating for as little as 15 minutes per day will promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  4.   Deep breathing is an excellent stress management technique.  A simple breathing technique to reduce stress and bring you into the present moment is to breathe in deeply to the count of 6 hold your breath for a moment and listen to the sounds in your environment than exhale to the count of 6.  
  5.  A great stress reduction technique is to take a five minute vacation every few hours during the day.  Picture your favorite beach or vacation spot, the idea is to escape the rat race briefly, but completely.
  6. Eliminate or significantly reduce your consumption of alcohol, tobacco, refined processed foods and caffeine.
  7. Daily physical activity has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and allow you to manage stress more effectively.
  8.  Eat a nutritious, well balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality protein, whole grain and healthy fats.
  9.  Studies have shown that laughter refreshes the heart.  Laughter reduces stress hormones and stimulates the immune system.
  10.  Studies show that people who take regular vacations are less likely to have heart attacks and report lower levels of stress and depression.
  11. A great way to reduce stress is to return to your childhood and learn to play.  Find some crayons and draw a picture, rent your favorite childhood movie or blow bubbles.  Have fun going back to a simpler time and watch your stress melt away
  12. Massage offers many health benefits.  Massage increases circulation, reduces tightness in muscles, stimulates the release of pain relieving endorphins and lowers stress hormone levels.
  13. A simple way to relax and refresh when you are under stress is to close your eyes, cup your hands over them, but not touching the eyeballs.  Count to ten and then open your eyes
  14. Colorful flowers have been shown to elevate mood, combat stress and promote relaxation.  An easy way to brighten your mood is to place a colorful bouquet of flowers nearby

Begin to experiment with some of the above tips and tricks to find the ones that work best for you to reduce your stress level.  If you wait for life to slow down and get less stressful you will never change.  Make small changes weekly and you will eventually reach your goals and reduce your stress level in the process.


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