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5 Effective Ways to Alleviate Stress

Stress affects everyone at some point in their lives and does not discriminate based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, economic status, or age. The American Institute of Stress says job-related stress costs businesses millions of dollars each year due to unanticipated absences. In fact, work is the foremost source of stress for many adults.

Although not all stress is bad and stress responses can motivate people to perform more effectively, repeated stress is a problem. The National Institute of Mental Health says routine stress that becomes chronic can suppress immune system functions, disrupt digestion, adversely affect sleep, and cause abnormal changes in reproductive systems. People who have chronic stress are often prone to frequent and severe viral infections, like colds and the flu.

Repetitive stress may be the most difficult to recognize because it often becomes a part of daily life. Managing stress and anxiety involves finding techniques that work for each individual. While not every approach works for everyone, the following are five effective means to managing stress.

  1. Exercise: The American Psychological Association says research continues to confirm the benefits of exercise in regard to combatting stress. Regular exercise has long-term benefits, but even a 20-minute exercise session during a stressful time can produce an immediate effect that lasts a few hours.
  2. Deep breathing: Mindful breathing can be effective and only takes 10 minutes. Men and women battling stress can sit in a comfortable position with their eyes closed and imagine themselves in a relaxing place while slowly breathing in and out.
  3. Take a break: Removing oneself from a stressful situation for a little while can be helpful. A brief break of 15 to 20 minutes can provide a sense of calm.
  4. Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Harvard Medical School defines cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, as a process of changing unhealthy thinking in order to change emotions. Therapists will identify negative thinking patterns and help patients learn to automatically replace them with healthy or positive thoughts.
  5. Support network: Simply having someone to talk to can help tame stress. People should surround themselves with others they trust who are good listeners. These can be friends, family members or professional therapists. Talking oneself through stressful situations can provide relief.

Stress is a growing problem that can adversely affect one's health in various ways. Relieving stress involves identifying the stressor and taking a proactive approach before symptoms of stress worsen.