Health Advocate Blog

Be good to yourself: stress-fighting tips

Traffic jams during your morning commute made you late for work, you can’t seem to get ahead of the growing stack of papers on your desk, and your bill payments are almost due. Does your regular routine leave you feeling stressed out at the end of each day? Life is full of stressors, big and small, and if not properly managed it can affect you physically as well as emotionally, causing potential health issues like headaches, insomnia or, in severe cases, even a heart attack. Try these useful solutions to help you better handle stressful moments:

  • Learn to recognize stress. Stress can manifest itself physically in many different ways. A common sign of holding too much stress can be feeling tightness or soreness around your neck, shoulders, and back. Stress could also cause headaches, giving you a pounding sensation around your eyes or temples. However, physical pain may not always be the sole indicator of too much stress. Stress can manifest itself in other ways, too, such as diminishing your focus or productivity, or making you feel less calm.
  • Talk to someone who listens: A simple, quick stress reliever can be talking to someone about the things that are making you feel stressed.
  • Consider massage. Seek out a local massage therapist and schedule an hour-long appointment.  Or, see if your workplace has options that can help you—some offices bring in massage therapists who, for a nominal charge, can give you a brief (usually 10 or 15 minutes long) stress-reducing massage.  Research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami reported that massage therapy has been effective in reducing stress and improving performance for employees who have received massages at their workplace.
  • Get in touch with your inner yogi. Yoga combines stretching of the body and meditation of the mind, which can help reduce tension and promote relaxation. But yoga’s potential benefits don’t stop there—it can also improve posture and stimulate weight loss.
  • Just breathe. Breathing therapy is free and can be done anywhere! It involves integrating meditation, movement, breathing, and body awareness all at once; these exercises promote a relaxing mind-body connection that can help lessen stress and tension.
  • Think happy thoughts. Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. Studies have shown that optimism and eliminating negative thoughts can reduce your stress level and promote well-being.
  • Walk it out. Taking a walk is a healthy activity that can also allow relief from a stressful situation. If you can, try walking outside to engage your senses in experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of nature.
  • Get giggly. Laughter has proven to reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, while increasing levels of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins. So tune in to comedy channels on TV, or your favorite jokesters on the radio, and start laughing!

Please note: Before engaging in any physical exercise or massage therapy, we recommend consulting your doctor to verify that these types of activities are right for you.