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How To Beat Stress In Your Life

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Updated October 29, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Aerobic activity such as vigorous walking is, in my opinion, the best way to reduce stress and improve overall quality of life; walk or do whatever type of exercise you feel comfortable with. You may prefer to join a health club; if you do join a health club, go often and make it your special time. Don't concern yourself with your family while you are working out; this is your time and don't let anyone interfere.

Go outdoors whenever possible: A little sunshine and activity can have amazing ramifications on your stress level and will enhance your entire outlook towards life. Your improved attitude will have a positive effect on everyone in your family and / or circle of friends: Things which seem overwhelming will soon become trivial matters, causing you to wonder what the predicament was. Not only will you be less stressed, you will be healthier, happier, and more energetic -- ready to face whatever obstacles come your way.

Aromatherapy can be tremendous help for alleviating stress. Try using five or six drops of lavender oil in a warm bath or put two or three drops on a cloth and inhale from time to time during the day. Often we reach for cup of tea to placate our aplomb. Next time, try tea made with chamomile, passionflower, valerian, or ginseng as some herbalists recommend.

Give yourself permission to be a 'kid' again. What did you enjoy when you were a child? Draw; paint; be creative. Play with Play-Doh, dance, or read. Play music, allow yourself freedom to express yourself without worry that you're not keeping with the image of who you are 'supposed' to be. Just relax and enjoy yourself. We all have a little child in us and it's a good idea to allow expression of the child within from time to time.

Don't set unrealistic for goals for yourself. Many of us set ourselves up for defeat simply by setting unrealistic goals for ourselves. For example, if you are dieting, realize you cannot lose 40 pounds in one or two months. Or maybe you are trying to reach a goal of obtaining a particular job position. Whatever your goal is, allow sufficient time to reach your goals and realize occasional setbacks may occur. If you reach your goal without any delays, you will be even happier with yourself for arriving quicker than you planned, but don't expect it. In fact, don't expect anything -- expectations and reality are often two entirely different things.

Learn it is OK to say 'no' occasionally. Often, many of us feel we have to say 'yes' to everyone, every time we are asked for help and feel that we must respond in a positive fashion. But, remember, you cannot be all things to all people. You must first meet your own needs before you can truly give others what they need while at the same time keeping yourself happy.

You do not have to do everything your family, friends, and others ask; of course you can help others, but first make sure you have done what is necessary to take care of yourself. Make time for yourself, your number one priority. Once your own needs are met, you will find you have more time for others. And you may find more pleasure in helping others when you don't feel that you must always put others needs before your own.

Other ways to beat stress include; deep breathing exercises, massage, guided imagery and a healthy sex life. A healthy sex life will do a great deal to reduce the stress in your life, if it is with someone you are comfortable with. But if you are having relationship problems, forcing yourself to participate when you are not really happy in your relationship will probably do more to increase your stress level rather than to reduce it. So, first you need to resolve the issues which are causing your difficulties.

If your stress is the result of a specific event such as a death in the family, your physician may prescribe antianxiety medication which can be highly effective for short-term stress relief, but such drugs should not be used on a continuing or long-term basis.

When you are facing an unpleasant circumstance, remember what your mother or grandmother probably told you. Take a deep breath and count to 10 before saying or doing anything. Taking a deliberate pause can be an instant tranquilizer, producing a calming effect, and allowing you extra time to reassess the situation before taking possibly regrettable actions on impulse.

If you are still experiencing stress, after trying some of these suggestions, your physician may recommend psychotherapy to help you deal with the issues which are causing your stress. See your physician anytime stress is interfering with your life to the point you are unable to work or meet the demands of your normal daily activities.

Source:

Stress and Your Health. Womenshealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/stress-your-health.cfm. Accesed 08/21/2009.

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