By Richard H. Walen
Each of us has experienced times of emotional stress that impact our lives on many levels. These periods of time can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and also memory loss and forgetfulness. Extended periods of stress can have lasting effects on our physical and mental health. It is important to work on stress reduction skills so that you can decrease the intensity and duration of the effects of stressful events. There are many techniques you can utilize to accomplish this goal.
• Start with good nutrition: Eating a Snickers bar and drinking a can of Coca-Cola at lunch is not going to give your body the tools it needs to effectively manage the stresses of life. In fact, sugar and stimulants like caffeine can often lead to spikes in energy in the beginning, but a “crash” in the end. Do as your mother told you and eat those fruits and vegetables and limit caffeine and sugar intake.
• Exercise: The natural “high” that your body gets from exercise can really help you to battle the effects of stress by elevating your mood and increasing blood flow to your brain. This increased blood flow can also help improve memory and concentration. Try yoga. This practice of poses and controlled breathing techniques is focused on achieving complete peacefulness in your mind.
• Learn to delegate: Delegating does not mean failure; it means that you are wise enough to know your limits and understand that more brain power achieved with two people, rather than one.
• Remember to breathe: It’s a simple concept, I know, but one that is often forgotten quickly in times of stress. Try closing your eyes and taking five slow breaths in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth. Focus on feeling the stress leave your body on the wind of your breath.
• Talk about it: We are not an island unto ourselves. Talking about your stressors with a friend, colleague, family member or professional can help you to process through the event. A listening ear can be a comforting thing.
We all experience times of stress, but long-term stress can lead to significant consequences. Using the tools above, you can begin to combat the effects of stress and limit how it impacts your physical and mental health.
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