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Managing Your Stress

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Senior couple stretching after exercise in park

Physical exercise helps reduce stress.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

If you are having difficulty coping with life's demands, we call this "stress." A life without some stress would be boring. Most of us like some challenges, but too much stress creates problems.

People who are overly stressed report difficulty concentrating, feelings of worry and fear, a sense that the body is wound up (for example, tense muscles, sweaty palms, and a pounding heart), irritability with others, and exhaustion. Too much stress over a long period of time can put your health at risk.

If you or someone you know is in an emotional crisis call The Veterans' Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK and press 1 for Veterans.

Stress management suggestions:

  • Physical Activity - Take a brisk walk or engage in other physically demanding activities. This may reduce your stress. Regular physical activity is best.
  • Problem Solving - Learn problem solving skills as this can often improve your ability to cope. Your medical center may offer a class or information session on problem solving skills.
  • Relaxation Training - Learn relaxation and mindfulness skills. These skills can help you manage the arousal associated with stress.  There is some evidence that daily relaxation may protect you from at least some of the physical responses to stress. There are several self-help books on relaxation at libraries/book stores and your medical center may offer relaxation or mindfulness training.
  • Expression - Speak up in respectful ways. Sharing thoughts and feelings in an assertive and respectful manner can sometimes help buffer stress.
  • Time Management - List what needs to get done, make plans for addressing issues, and stick to the plan. There are several self-help books on time management at libraries and book stores.
  • Positive Thinking - Stress is often associated with negative, self-critical thinking. Focus your attention on positive thoughts about yourself, favorite songs, poems, favorite prayers, or hobbies.
  • Pleasant Activities - Often you may be experiencing stress because you are not making time for fun in your life. Plan to have regular, enjoyable activities and see if this buffers your stress.

More information and resources