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Managing Stress


People may find that the following lifestyle measures can help them manage or prevent stress-induced feelings of being overwhelmed.

• Exercise: A 2018 systematic review of animal studies found that exercise can reduce memory impairment in subjects with stress, although studies on humans are necessary to confirm this.

• Reducing the intake of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine: These substances will not help prevent stress, and they can make it worse.

• Nutrition: A healthful, balanced diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables can help maintain the immune system at times of stress. A poor diet can lead to ill health and additional stress.

• Priority management: It may help to spend a little time organizing a daily to-do list and focusing on urgent or time sensitive tasks. People can then focus on what they have completed or accomplished for the day, rather than on the tasks they have yet to complete.

• Time: People should set aside some time to organize their schedules, relax, and pursue their own interests.

• Breathing and relaxation: Meditation, massage, and yoga can help. Breathing and relaxation techniques can slow down the heart rate and promote relaxation. Deep breathing is also a central part of mindfulness meditation.

• Talking: Sharing feelings and concerns with family, friends, and work colleagues may help a person “let off steam” and reduce feelings of isolation. Other people may be able to suggest unexpected, workable solutions to the stressor.

• Acknowledging the signs: A person can be so anxious about the problem causing the stress that they do not notice the effects on their body. It is important to be mindful of any changes.

Noticing signs and symptoms is the first step to taking action. People who experience work stress due to long hours may need to “take a step back.” It may be time for them to review their working practices or talk to a supervisor about finding ways to reduce the load.

Most people have an activity that helps them relax, such as reading a book, going for a walk, listening to music, or spending time with a friend, loved one, or pet. Joining a choir or a gym also helps some people relax.

The APA encourage people to develop networks of social support, for example, by talking to neighbors and others in the local community or joining a club, charity, or religious organization.

Those who often feel as though they do not have the time or energy for hobbies should try some enjoyable new activities that make them feel good. People can turn to their support network if they need ideas.

Being part of a group can reduce the risk of stress developing and provide support and practical help when challenging circumstances develop.

People who find that stress is affecting their daily life should seek professional help. A doctor or psychiatric specialist can often help, for example, through stress management training.

Stress management techniques

Stress management can help by:

• removing or changing the source of stress

• altering how a person views a stressful event

• lowering the effects that stress might have on the body

• learning alternative ways of coping

Stress management therapy pursues one or more of these approaches. People can develop their stress management techniques by using self-help books or online resources. Alternatively, they can attend a stress management course. A counselor or psychotherapist can connect an individual who has stress with personal development courses or individual and group therapy sessions.

Read the full Medical News Today article: Why Stress Happens and How to Manage It. Reprinted with permission.

Thumb Butte Medical Center has locations in Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley, Arizona. thumbbuttemedicalcenter.com


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