• Exercise regularly. You can decrease stress and release tension through regular exercise or other physical activity. Running, walking, swimming, dancing, playing tennis, or working in your garden are some activities you may want to try.
• Talk about your stress. For example, talk to a friend, family member, teacher, or boss about what is bothering you. If that does not help to resolve the problem, consider seeking help from a professional therapist or counselor. Ask your doctor for a referral, or contact the employee assistance program at work.
• Know your limits. If a stressful situation gets beyond control, walk away. Return to deal with the situation when you have calmed down.
• Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet. If you feel irritable and tense from lack of sleep or if you are not eating properly, you will be less able to deal with stressful situations.
• Take time for yourself. Take a break from regular work and do something you enjoy. Just relax.
• Be a participant in life. Help yourself by helping others. Share your abilities with other members of your community by volunteering.
• Prioritize your tasks. To keep your schedule from overwhelming you, make a list of your tasks and check them off as you complete them.
• Be cooperative. If things do not go your way, try compromise rather than confrontation. A little give and take on both sides can help you meet your goals and make everyone feel better.
• Cry if you need to. Crying can be a healthy way to bring relief to your tension or anxiety.
• Create a quiet scene in your mind. You can’t always get away, but you can try closing your eyes and letting your mind wander. A quiet country scene painted mentally can temporarily take you out of the turmoil of a stressful situation and help you to relax. Listening to beautiful music or reading a good book may help you achieve the same results.
• Avoid self-medication. When you need them, you can use prescription or over-the-counter medications to relieve stress temporarily, but realize that they don’t remove the conditions that caused the stress in the first place. Becoming overly reliant on drugs or alcohol can only complicate matters in the long run. They may be habit forming, or they may interfere with your body’s ability to function normally.
• Learn to relax by using a specific relaxation strategy, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises. Participate in activities you can enjoy without competing. Cycle, swim, or walk the dog. Forget about always winning.
Relaxation can stimulate the release of endorphins— brain chemicals that promote feelings of well-being. Relaxation strategies work by blocking conscious thoughts, resulting in decreased tension, lower heart and breathing rates, and slower metabolism. Several relaxation techniques, such as meditation, guided imagery, muscle relaxation, and deep breathing, can be used to relieve stress and bring on the relaxation response.
If you feel that you are under severe or long-term stress, seek help immediately. Talk about your problems with your doctor. He or she can treat any stress related disorders you may have developed and will refer you to the appropriate mental health professional.