Techniques to Help Ease Stress
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Techniques to Help Ease Stress

When it comes to managing stress, no one method works for everyone. But you can experiment to find techniques that may work for you and your lifestyle.

Stress is an emotional and physical reaction that, when chronic, can be harmful to your mind and body. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are good health habits. But they do not specifically address how your mind or body react to stress. Some techniques that focus on your mind-body connection may help you address the mental and emotional side of stress.

Here are examples of some techniques that may help you ease stress.

Technique

Description

Health Benefit

Meditation

 

Meditation teaches people to focus their attention and be mindful of sensations, thoughts and feelings without judging themselves. Most types of meditation include: finding a quiet location with few distractions, assuming a comfortable posture, focusing your attention and having an open attitude.

Meditation calms the body from a stressful state by lowering your heart rate, slowing breathing and improving blood flow and digestion. Meditation may have a physiological response that relaxes the mind and body.

Yoga

 

Yoga is a movement practice that combines physical postures, meditation and breathing. It is generally considered low-impact and safe for most healthy people, but talk to your doctor first. There are many styles of yoga and you can get hurt if you don't do it right. Taking a class with a certified instructor is recommended.

Research suggests that yoga may help people maintain their health and well-being. It may increase your strength, flexibility and overall physical fitness. It may also improve quality of life by helping to relieve anxiety, lower your blood pressure and heart rate traits that are linked to stress.

Tai chi

 

Tai chi is a non-competitive series of slow movements that you do at your own pace. Practitioners focus on deep breathing and clearing their mind. It is a low-impact, safe activity that is usually suitable for most healthy people. It can be practiced alone or in a group.

Tai chi has been used to improve overall well-being. The practice is meditative and promotes relaxation and staying focused in the present moment. It also may help improve physical fitness and sleep.

Relaxation practices

Autogenic training — This method focuses on your heartbeat or breathing and picturing your body warm, relaxed or heavy.

Deep breathing — You slow your breathing and focus on taking deep, regular breaths.

Guided imagery — A visualization technique guided by you or a practitioner that replaces negative thoughts with pleasing images.

Progressive relaxation You focus on tightening and relaxing muscle groups one-by-one. It is often combined with breathing or imagery methods.

Self-hypnosis — This method uses a phrase or nonverbal cue that helps you trigger your relaxation response.

The goal is to create a relaxation response, the opposite of the stress response. It may help lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. It may lower levels of stress hormones to help counteract the negative effects of stress. Relaxation is also used for other conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia and depression.

 

Stress journal

 

This is a place where you write down the stressors in your life and how you deal with them. Write down how you feel physically and emotionally when stress occurs.

You may see a pattern in your stress that could help you learn how to cope with certain stressors. This may give you a sense of relief and you may learn how to handle a stressor the next time.

Positive self-talk

 

Positive self-talk is talking to yourself in an upbeat way. This can include giving encouraging messages to yourself or turning negative thoughts into positive ones. You can do this aloud or in your mind.

Positive self-talk can help reduce stress by calming you and turning negativity into optimism. You can practice it at your desk, in your car or whenever you notice negative thoughts entering your mind.

Social support

 

Share your stress with family or friends. Talk through what you are thinking and feeling.

Speaking with someone who can be sympathetic may relieve some of the burden of stress. Sharing your problems may help you find a solution. Spending time with someone else may also be fun and help you relieve tension.

Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.

By Jennifer Mitchell, Editor
Created on 05/28/2013
Updated on 06/07/2013
Sources:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing stress.
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Stress.
  • Helpguide.org. Relaxation techniques for stress relief.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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