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10 Tips for Coping With Life's Stressors

Life is stressful, but some stress can be good. Protect yourself from bad, stress overload, with these 10 healthy tips for coping with life's stressors.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

There's no way around it -- life is stressful. Daily living brings with it the mental and emotional stresses of working, relationships, finances, nagging injuries or illnesses, and more. Healthy levels of stress are good for us -- because certain amounts of stress actually improve our efficiency and effectiveness at managing all the people, things, and responsibilities in our lives. Good stress levels keep us alert and ready to avoid danger. Too much stress, though, and things start quickly unraveling from the stress overload.

Are you overly stressed? Signs include irritability, feelings of anger and frustration, headaches, stomach cramps and discomfort, irregular sleep patterns, abnormal weight gain or loss, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, back pain, shortness or breath, anxiety attacks, and abnormal heart conditions.

While you should strive to find the cause(s) of the stress overload and develop ways to reduce its levels, you can also plan for methods to relieve the stress in healthy ways, which is what this article is about.

Avoid the unhealthy ways many people use to cope with stress: cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, and overeating. These techniques for coping are not only unhealthy on their own, but usually only result in complicating matters -- and in the end, adding to your level of stress.

Here are 10 tips for coping with the stress in your life -- helping you relax, gain perspective, and move forward with solving the issues causing the stress overload.

1. Workout. Exercising does wonders, from removing toxins that build up in your muscles to releasing endorphins to lift your mood. Before starting any exercise program, of course, get clearance from a doctor. And you don't need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. Take a walk.

2. Breathe. Simply sitting quietly and changing your breathing habits to focus on deep and cleansing breathes is enough to bring more oxygen to your brain, muscles, and other organs.

3. Talk it Out. Reach out to a friend or family member (one not involved in increasing your stress levels) and talk -- whether in person, by phone, or electronically.

4. Write it Out. Expressing our feelings of frustration in writing can be a great way to relieve stress -- and you can do so using a traditional journal or even keeping a blog or other online journal.

5. Volunteer. If time (or time management) is your major stressor, this might not be the best option, but nothing helps us feel better than helping others less fortunate or in greater need than ourselves.

6. Get Back to Nature. The power and awe of nature tends to make even some of the biggest problems seem much smaller in comparison. Visit a local park or natural wonder or go to the beach or mountains.

7. Take a Bath. Being submerged in water -- whether it's the warm water or the buoyancy -- helps relax our body and our mind. Make your bath even more fun by adding bubbles, salts, or other bath things.

8. Listen to Music. Find a quiet and comfortable place and take a break from the stress by listening to some of your favorite music. Choose music that tends to lift your spirits -- not music that reminds you of your stresses/problems.

9. Stretch. Simply performing various stretches can help relieve both tension and pain caused by stress. Yoga and other similar activities are great at relaxing different parts of your body -- and mind.

10. Work at Something You Like. Many people have hobbies such as knitting, wood-working, scrapbooking, etc. If you have an activity you find enjoyable, take a little time away from your stress by working at your hobby.

Final Thoughts on Coping With Stress You can't avoid the stressful issues that are causing your stress overload. You must document all your stressors and find ways to deal with them so that your stress level is more manageable and does not shut you down. Long-term overexposure to high levels of stress will lead to serious mental and physical health illnesses and problems.

That said, while you are dealing with reducing the bad stress in your life, you should also take steps daily to cope with the stress in healthy ways -- such as using one or more of the tips outlined in this article. Remember too, to always eat well and wisely and get enough sleep.

Finally, if you find yourself constantly overwhelmed with stress and unable to deal with things on your own, seek out professional help -- starting with your doctor or a visit to your local mental health clinic.

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Avid bicyclist Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, environmentalist, and student of wellness with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of Websites with varying missions of empowering people. He is the founder and caretaker of EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is also founder of Quintessential Careers, and founding partner of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com to learn more about Dr. Hansen or to contact him.


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