How to Treat Stress

Stress happens. And when it does it makes every sin­gle sad state known to man seem worse. A little stress may help you perform at your peak. More than that will just help you make a mess of everything. Here are some ways to relieve stress, at least temporarily.

  • Check for culprits in your medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs such as asthma inhalers, or even over-the-counter drugs such as diet pills and decongestants, can cause anxiety-like symptoms and intensify stress.
  • Cut back on alcohol and sweets. These items just make stress worse.
  • Consider caffeine carefully. The role of caffeine in our diets is a controversial subject. Some people swear by it, and some shun it like the plague. Most people know that too much caffeine can make you jittery and irritable. But a new study shows that just a little caffeine may have the opposite effect. Researchers found that caffeine lowered tension while it increased feelings of hap­piness and calmness. When they tested partici­pants on their ability to recall and process infor­mation and solve problems, they performed better with caffeine. So the next time you’re feeling tense, sit back with a cup of coffee, or do like the British and relax with a nice, hot cup of tea.


  • Take time to walk and talk. Physical exercise helps relieve tension, and talking with a trusted friend or family member is a time-tested way to work out problems. Doing both together just doubles the benefits.
  • Make the most of this moment. Focus all your energy and attention on whatever you’re doing or whomever you’re with now. This technique helps replace worries with more pleasurable, productive feelings.
  • Breathe your stress away. Focusing on some inter­nal function, such as breathing, sends your body the message that you are safe and secure. This helps relax muscles, reduce blood pressure, and calm your nerves. Often, feeling stressed or anx­ious causes you to breathe shallowly from your chest, increasing fatigue and anxiety. To relieve stress, close your eyes and concentrate on slow, deep breathing that forces your stomach muscles in and out. Make yourself exhale completely before you take another breath.
  • Treat yourself to a mini mental vacation. Close your eyes and transport yourself to a favorite place. Recreate all the sights, smells, sounds, and pleasurable sensations you associate with your favorite spot.
  • Wash your worries away. Sit by a fountain or stream, take a swim, luxuriate in a warm bath or shower, or simply wash your hands and face. Water works wonders in relieving stress and worry.

The long-range plan for stress

Although stress is not normally considered life-threat­ening, it can be lethal. In fact, stress has been linked to a large number of different disorders, from depression to sudden death. Unchecked stress can even kill perfectly healthy brain cells.

The bottom line — if you want to live a long, healthy life, don’t mess with stress. Get it under control as soon as possible. Here are some helpful tips.

  • Try to pinpoint the source of your stress. If noth­ing comes quickly to mind, put your feelings on paper. This will often help you uncover any hid­den conflicts that may be bothering you. Don’t make yourself more anxious by worrying that someone may discover what you’ve written. Simply tear up and throw the paper away once you’re finished.
  • Make it a habit to meditate, daily if possible. To begin, simply focus your mind on one word, phrase, or sound that you repeat silently to your­self. Don’t worry about completely shutting out all other thoughts. When stray thoughts wander through your mind, just don’t focus on them enough to distract you from meditating. Start with a five-minute session and gradually work up to 20 minutes. Some people find it helpful to med­itate twice a day. The purpose of this mental exer­cise is to give your mind a rest from anxiety-pro­ducing thoughts. Mental relaxation helps reduce stress.
  • Relax your body to relax your mind. Alternately tensing and releasing all the muscles in your body, beginning with your face and working down to your feet, will relax both your body and mind. To begin, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Now, beginning with the muscles of your face, focus on tensing and relaxing all the major muscles in your body. Practice this relaxation technique regularly. Once you become skilled at this technique, you can use it to produce almost instant relaxation in any situation.
  • Review the day for a refreshing night’s sleep. Unresolved problems do not make good bed part­ners. And everyone knows that a poor night’s sleep can lead to even more stress. That’s why it’s important to take a few minutes before bed each night and replay the day’s events in your mind. Let go of all the unpleasant things that happened during the day, resolving to handle things better next time. Savor the day’s successes. Make deci­sions about unresolved problems. Write decisions down if you’re concerned about forgetting. Take your body through the relaxation routine men­tioned above. Now you’re ready for a sound night of sleep.
  • Plan to make your dreams come true. Knowing you are working toward things that matter most to you can minimize frustrations that build up when you feel trapped in a rut of daily routine. Here are two tips to turn your dreams into reality:
  • Write down your important goals.

  • Break big projects into a series of small steps you can work on every day. Want to change jobs? Make one phone call contact today. Want to travel around the world? Eat in instead of out, and put the money you save into your around-the-world account.
  • Laugh it off. Laughing is probably nature’s most perfect antidote for stress. Stress creates unhealthy changes in the body, such as reducing your immune system’s effectiveness. Laughing counteracts those very changes. Having a sense of humor also gives you a sense of control over your situation, no matter how irritating or annoying it seems to be. To give yourself a laugh, look for the absurd in your situation. Take time to enjoy jokes, funny movies, and books. If something ridiculous happens to you, turn your experience into a funny story for friends to enjoy. As Bill Cosby quips, “If you can laugh at it, you can sur­vive it.”
  • Investigate your vitamins. According to a new clinical study, being even slightly deficient in vita­min C and the B vitamins can make you nervous, irritable, and depressed. This test of more than one thousand people found that those who were generally healthy but were low in these vitamins also felt fearful, forgetful, and unable to concen­trate. When these people took supplements of vit­amins B and C, they began to feel better all over, with less nervousness and irritability, a happier mood, more self-confidence, and more inclination to be physically active. If you’re feeling generally anxious and “under the weather,” check your diet to see if you’re getting enough of these vital nutri­ents in the foods you eat. If not, you might want to consider a supplement.
  • Minimize stress with magnesium. When stress goes up, your body’s magnesium levels go down. Lower levels of magnesium often mean increased irritability. American College of Nutrition researchers recommend supplementing with mag­nesium when stress levels are high.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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