How can I reduce stress?

Stress can build, influencing how you feel about life. Prolonged stress may lead to frustration, anger, hopelessness, and depression. To reduce stress:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept that there are events you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. "Assert" your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, combative, or passive.
  • Learn to relax.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when you are physically fit.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
  • Keep your medical appointments.

How can I learn to relax?

There are a number of exercises that you can do to relax. These include breathing, muscle and mind relaxation, relaxation to music, and biofeedback. A few that you can try are listed below. First, be sure that you have a quiet location that is free of distractions, a comfortable body position (sit or recline on a chair or sofa), and a good state of mind. Try to block out worries and distracting thoughts.

What are some effective relaxation exercises?

Two-minute relaxation

Turn your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped. Quickly loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion once or twice. (Stop any movements that cause pain.) Roll your shoulders forward and backward several times. Let all of your muscles relax completely. Recall a pleasant thought for a few seconds. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. You should feel relaxed.

Mind relaxation

Close your eyes. Breathe normally through your nose. As you exhale, silently say to yourself the word "one," a short word such as "peaceful," or a phrase such as "I feel quiet." Continue for 10 minutes. If your mind wanders, gently remind yourself to focus on your breathing and your chosen word or phrase. Let your breathing become slow and steady.

Deep breathing relaxation

Imagine a spot just below your navel. Breathe into that spot and fill your abdomen with air. Let the air fill you from the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath out, you should feel more relaxed.

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