Top Ways to Manage Stress and Distress

Don't Let Stress or Distress Have a Negative Impact on Your Health

While stress is something we all deal with in our lives, it's how you manage it that counts. Whether it's stress from your high powered job or distress felt after losing a loved one, you need to effectively manage stress and distress before either has a negative impact on your physical or emotional health.

Make Time to Relax

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Find ways of relaxing. Learn how to meditate or use relaxation exercises. Listen to soothing music. Take a bath. Do whatever helps you relax. If needed, learn stress management or biofeedback techniques from healthcare professionals as healthy ways to manage stress.

Maintain a Normal Routine

As much as possible, try to stick to a normal daily routine. Limit additional responsibilities. Learn to say "No."

Eat a Healthy Diet

Focus on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid excessive sugar, fatty foods, and caffeine. Use alcohol in moderation and don't try to self-medicate, which can make the stress worse.

Include Exercise as Part of Your Day

Participating in some kind of moderate exercise activity for at least 30 minutes on most days helps relieve stress, boost energy levels, aid sleep and improve mood. Exercise is also good for the heart, lungs, and mind. Activities include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, and hiking.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Holding positive thoughts, rather than succumbing to a negative one can help in maintaining a positive attitude. Think positively about yourself. Surrounding yourself with positive and inspiring people can help elevate your mood.

Participate in Activities You Enjoy

Make time for hobbies and other interests. Read a good book. Garden. Knit. Be part of a sports team. Keep a journal. Work on crafts. Volunteer your services. Assist someone in need.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night will make it easier to cope with stress and distress. A well-rested person is more alert and quick thinking and less irritable, grouchy and tense.

Talk with a Trusted Person

Talking with someone about intense feelings when distressed can be helpful. Share feelings with a trusted friend, family member, healthcare professional or clergy. Some find that participating in a support group with others who have experienced similar situations or events can also be helpful in easing distress.

Learn to Adapt Instead of Control

Accept that there will be situations, events and people throughout life that you are unable to control. Learning to be flexible, to roll with the punches and ride the waves can help reduce stress.

Remember to Laugh

Laughter is one of the best medicines; it releases chemicals into the brain that promote relaxation. People who are able to find humor in life and are happier tend to be more productive, live longer and have less physical problems. Maybe a good laugh a day will help keep the stressors away.

Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT. 

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