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Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress

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Is stress making you angry and grouchy? Stress relievers can help bring back calm and peace to your busy life. You don't have to put a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. If your stress is getting out of control and you need quick relief, try one of these tips.

Get active

Almost any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you're not an athlete or you're out of shape, exercise can still be a good stress reliever.

Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that boost your sense of well-being. Exercise also can refocus your mind on your body's movements. This refocus can improve your mood and help the day's irritations fade away. So go on a walk, take a jog, work in your garden, clean your house, bike, swim, weight train, vacuum or do anything else that gets you active.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. Aim to eat many fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Some people may deal with stress with unhealthy habits. These may include drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, eating too much, or using illegal substances. These habits can harm your health and increase your stress levels.

Meditate

During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can help both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Meditation can empower us to enhance our well-being.

You can practice guided meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, visualization and other forms of meditation anywhere at any time. For example, you could meditate when you're out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at your health care provider's office. Try an app to show you how to do these exercises. And you can try deep breathing anywhere.

Laugh more

A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments. But it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you laugh, it lightens your mental load. It also causes positive physical changes in the body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response.

So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends. Or give laughter yoga a try.

Connect with others

When you're stressed and irritable, you may want to isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Even one good friend who listens can make a difference.

Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can offer distraction, give support, and help you put up with life's up and downs. So take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative or visit your place of worship.

Got more time? Try volunteering for a charity and help yourself while helping others.

Assert yourself

You might want to do it all, but you can't, at least not without paying a price. Learning to say no or being willing to delegate can help you manage your to-do list and your stress. Healthy boundaries are important in a wellness journey. Everyone has physical and emotional limits.

Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But instead, it may cause you inner conflict because your needs and those of your family come second. Putting yourself second can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the wish to take revenge. And that's not a very calm and peaceful reaction. Remember, you're a priority.

Try yoga

With its series of postures and breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you reach peace of body and mind. Yoga can help you relax and ease stress and anxiety.

Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in many areas. Hatha yoga, especially, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.

Get enough sleep

Stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

And how well and how long you sleep can affect your mood, energy level, focus and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, listen to soothing music, make sure the area you sleep in is cool, dark and quiet, put phones and tablets away, and stick to a regular schedule.

Keep a journal

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up feelings. Don't think about what to write — let it happen. Write anything that comes to mind. No one else needs to read it. So don't aim for perfect grammar or spelling.

Let your thoughts flow on paper, or on the computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to think about later.

Get musical and be creative

Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever. It can provide a mental distraction, lessen muscle tension and lower stress hormones. Turn up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.

If music isn't one of your interests, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy. For example, try gardening, sewing, reading or sketching. Or try anything that makes you focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.

Seek counseling

If new stressors are making it hard for you to cope or if self-care measures aren't relieving your stress, you may want to think about therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped. You also may think about therapy if you worry a great deal, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting duties at work, home or school.

Professional counselors or therapists can help you find the sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.

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