Charles O'Dowd, MD, Highland Medical PC, Clarkstown Medical Associates and on staff at Nyack Hospital shares some tips on reducing stress
Life is full of challenges, deadlines, frustrations and demands. Stress has become a part of life for children and adults alike. In some instances, limited amounts of stress can help you achieve your goals by performing better under pressure. Stress in large doses can take a toll on your mind and body, often leading to illness.
April is Stress Awareness Month, a great time to take a close look at what is causing tension in your life and take steps to relax more. Even if you can't change the source of your stress, you can get some relief by following some of these tips:
- Exercise regularly to increase the feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. A hike, a game of tennis or running all can make you feel better and help you feel calmer. Plus exercise can improve your mood and sleep.
- Find 15 minutes each day for yourself. Relax through deep breathing or yoga.
- Take a close look at how you are spending your time. For three days, write down everything you do and look for ways you could be using your time better, so you have more time for exercise or other activities.
- Make time for friends. Research indicates people who encounter major life stresses can deal with them more easily if they can lean on friends or family for support.
- Take charge of stressful events by learning as much as you can in advance about them, and plan ways you can address them. For example, if you are shy in social situations, think about finding someone who's even more shy than you are, and helping them reduce their stress by talking with them.
- Don't make a habit of drinking to relax. Alcohol prevents your brain from entering a deep sleep.
- Laugh. Humor can be one of the best antidotes to stress.
- Know when you need to ask for help. Good places to start are your employee assistance program at work, or your doctor.