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Tips for Managing Stress
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, April 2014

We can all think about our own life and its stressful situations. The problem is not that we experience stress (all human beings do). The problems begin when we do not deal with stress effectively. Each and every one of us has within us the power to manage stress by changing how we respond. Whatever we may be experiencing-the illness or death of a loved one; divorce; unemployment or issues at work; moving; relationships; aging - we have at our disposal choices we can make that will alter our lives and our health.

While you probably now know that stress can lead to a host of health problems and disrupt your life, you may not know that you can be empowered to prevent or heal these situations by paying attention to what works in your life. As you begin to realize what is involved in this "empowerment", remember what works for you when you feel stressed so you can rely on these practices and techniques when you need them.

Here are some tips for managing stress:

Stay Positive and Laugh. - Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and to increase the so-called "good" or HDL cholesterol. So, having a good laugh can help your heart. No matter how bad things are, laughing dissolves tension and because we laugh, we are better able to deal with our stress. When we try to lighten up, take things less seriously, we can help replace a negative mood with a positive one, reducing the level of stress.

Exercise. - Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. In all likelihood when you finish your exercise, you will feel more optimistic, and you'll begin to look at the day's irritations differently, placing your attention on how to handle the more important things in your life.

Disconnect. - Take a break and avoid e-mails, texts, tweets, and late night TV news. Take time each day - even for ten or fifteen minutes - to escape from the noisy, interruptive world.

Breathe Deeply. - Deep belly breaths can reduce your stress levels right away. Many of us have been taking in breaths (not to mention information that can lead to stress) in a shallow, meager way. Simply breathe, deeply and from your belly, and you can feel your tension fading.

Make Time for Friendships. - Countless studies continue to reinforce the value of connecting with friends as a reliable stress buster. Old friends or new friends, your health will benefit being connected.

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