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Stress Management

Tips to Reduce Stress

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Updated April 03, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Photo Copyright Microsoft

Learn to reduce your stress.

Photo © Microsoft

From busy schedules to overwhelming responsibilities, we are all familiar with stress. Feelings of stress are often followed by increased anxiety and frustration. For people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder, stress may trigger symptoms.

Do your panic disorder symptoms and anxiety worsen when you’re feeling stressed out? If so, you may want to consider developing some stress management techniques. The following are a few tips to help you reduce your stress and manage your anxiety.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation exercises are techniques used to help ease your body and mind. Popular relaxation exercises include breathing techniques and visualization. Breathing exercises are a popular choice because they are easy to learn, accessible, and form the foundation of most other relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises also work to slow down and deepen your breathing, which can have a calming effect.

Using deep breathing and your imagination, visualization is another common relaxation technique. Through visualization, a person slows down their breathing, closes their eyes, and imagines that they are in a serene, relaxing, and enjoyable environment. Simply seeing oneself in a peaceful space can help elicit feelings of relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

To get the most out of relaxation exercises, try practicing them on a regular basis. Practice and review these skills even on days when you’re not feeling stressed out or anxious. This will help you feel more prepared to use your relaxation techniques during the times you need them the most.

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Set Attainable Goals

Popular goals revolve around one’s health, relationships, and career. Without goals, a person may lack direction, which can contribute to stress and anxiety. Setting and attaining your goals can help you live a less stressful and more satisfying life. Having goals can also help you stay focused on what you want and track your progress along the way.

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Work Out Your Stress

Physical exercise has many health benefits. For example, studies have concluded that regular physical exercise can help increase energy levels, improve your mood, and promote a better night’s rest. Additionally, maintaining a consistent exercise plan can also assist in reducing stress and anxiety.

Feelings of stress and anxiety can often be felt throughout the body, causing muscle pain and tightness. Exercise can help loosen and relax muscles. Through exercise, the body is able to reduce stress hormones and alleviate feelings of nervousness. Plus, exercise has been found to produce endorphins, natural mood-enhancing chemicals that help to alleviate stress and muscle pain.

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Express Your Stress

Keeping your stress and anxiety inside is not the most effective way to deal with these feelings. Sometimes it can be helpful to blow off some steam by talking with a trusted friend. A friend can offer a great shoulder to lean on. Through sharing in your stories of stress, anger, or disappointment, you may find that others can relate to your experience. Caring and supportive friends may also be able to offer valuable advice or help you to see your struggles in a more positive light.

If talking things over with friends and loved ones doesn’t fit your personality, consider expressing yourself in a creative outlet. For example, writing in a journal can be an effective way to express your feelings and even come up with potential solutions to your life stressors. Words aren’t always needed for self-expression -- you may find it helpful to work through your stress and anxiety through artistic activities, such as painting or drawing.

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Sources:

Bourne, E. J. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. 5th ed. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2011.

Seaward, B. L. “Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing, 7th Edition” 2011 Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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