It is important for the body to react to dangerous situations by activating the flight or fight response. It is equally important for the body to relax once the danger is past. Unfortunately, in modern times it is all too common for people to have ongoing high levels of stress brought about by daily events.
Prolonged stress can cause health problems including high blood pressure, insomnia, stomach ulcers, anxiety, depression, memory problems, blood sugar imbalances, a weakened immune system, digestion problems and addictions.
What can you do about ongoing feelings of being stressed? Work out what triggers your stress. What can you do about it? Can you avoid the stressor? Can you minimise the amount of time you are in situations you find stressful?
You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques. Some techniques will work better than others depending on your personality and circumstances.
Things that may help you deal with stress include:
1. Take a break This may be in the form of doing something different for thirty minutes or it may be going away for the weekend or taking a longer holiday. Taking a break from technology can be helpful. Give yourself time away from the computer and your mobile phone.
2. Deep breathing Concentrate on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth for a few minutes. Breathe deeply and think about your breathing instead of whatever is stressing you. Deep breathing is particularly helpful if you are in a natural environment such as a garden, park or at the beach. More involved deep breathing techniques can be found in books, health magazines and on the internet.
3. Music Listening to music you enjoy can reduce stress. The music doesnít have to be of the slow quiet type to be helpful. The important thing is that you like the music you are listening to.
4. Exercise Playing a sport is a good way of reducing stress. While you are concentrating on catching, hitting or throwing a ball you canít think about your problems. Walking can be a good way of loosening up physically and feeling better about life. Some people find swimming is a great way to relieve stress.
5. Take a relaxing shower or bath A warm to hot shower or bath will allow your muscles to relax and become less tense. The negative ions generated by the moving water of a shower tend to lift your mood.
6. Write in a journal Writing in a journal is a way of expressing thoughts and emotions, which may sometimes be negative, without hurting anyoneís feelings. Writing things down can help you sort out your thoughts and reflect on them to gain deeper understanding. Some people like to use paper and pen and may add illustrations. Others prefer to use a computer.
7. Meditate There are numerous meditation techniques which can be learnt by attending classes, watching videos on the internet, reading instructions or listening to a CD.
8. Yoga Yoga promotes relaxation. Practicing a few yoga poses each day can help relax the body and release tension from the muscles. Some yoga exercises encourage deep breathing. There are yoga classes offered at various community venues and fitness centres. This suits people who like to have company. Yoga DVDs can be purchased and there are videos on the internet, allowing people to learn in their own homes.
9. Talk to friends or a counsellor Talking to a friend who understands and supports you can help relieve stress. Sometimes talking to a counsellor or psychologiust is helpful as this person is impartial and will keep information you impart confidential. He/she may suggest other techniques to help you deal with the stress in your life.
10. Laugh Laughing relaxes you and can help you see the funny side of life. Reading jokes or funny comics helps relieve stress, as does watching a comedy. Laughing with a friend is doubly good as you benefit from the positive company and the humour.
If you are finding life particularly stressful consult a professional to get some help.