Stress tips

In times of great stress, our capacity to handle challenging emotions and external pressures diminishes rapidly. You may have noticed that small things that once didn’t bother you have begun to irritate you now. There might be increasing tension in your stomach, or a heaviness on your chest as the days go on. You might even be struggling with symptoms of anxiety, fear, grief, or depression.

Like a car low on gas, it’s important to refuel in order to find the energy you need to keep going in a positive emotional direction. So when can you do find yourself in such a place, try the following:

Breathe: when you find yourself at capacity, find a calm, quiet place for a few minutes and practice deep breathing. It will help you relax and does wonders for stress tension.

Pray or meditate: take a moment to talk to God and release the burden of whatever weight you are carrying to Him. Express gratitude for the relationships in your life. If you are not religious, take five minutes to be silent, and meditate on a few things you are grateful for. Gratitude does wonders for the heart.

Exercise: sometimes you just need to work it out. Start an exercise routine so your body can release endorphins, your brain's feel good neurotransmitters. These endorphins are also known as the body’s natural pain killers. If you feel better physically, you will be able to handle stress better when it sneaks up on you.

Sleep: if you find you are simply cranky and cloudy, chances are you may be sleep deprived. Try going to bed at an earlier time, and seek to get at least eight hours of sleep. The more rested your body feels, the more capable you’ll be in dealing with the stress sneaking up on you.

These are just a few ways you can begin to combat the stresses you may be experiencing in your life right now. They may not change your circumstances entirely, but they may help to increase your capacity to handle those things in a healthier way. So put them into practice. You'll likely find yourself feeling a bit more like yourself, and even more present for the people you love.

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