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Dealing with Stress – Ten Tips

1.Avoid caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine.

Avoid or reduce your intake of nicotine and any beverages containing caffeine and alcohol.
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that increase your stress levels, not reduce them.

Alcohol, in small doses, is a depressant, but in large quantities acts as a stimulant.
Therefore, using alcohol as a way to relieve stress will not ultimately help.

Swap caffeinated and alcoholic beverages for water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fruit juices. The goal is to stay hydrated, as this will allow your body to cope better with stress.

You should also avoid or reduce your intake of refined sugar, which is found in many processed foods (and even in savory items like salad dressings and breads) and can cause energy crashes, leaving you feeling tired and irritable.
In general, try to eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet.

2. Indulge in Physical Activity

Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.

These are the “fight or flight” hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat.  However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response, and so physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.

When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air.  Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime.  Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

3. Get more sleep

Lack of sleep is a major cause of stress.
Unfortunately, however, stress can also interfere with our sleep, as thoughts spin around in our heads, preventing us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Instead of relying on medications, your goal should be to maximize relaxation before you fall asleep.
Make sure your bedroom is an oasis of serenity, with nothing to remind you of things that are causing you stress.
Avoid caffeine in the evening, and don’t overdo it if you know it can interfere with sleep.
Stop doing anything mentally demanding a few hours before bed so you have time to cool off.
Try taking a hot bath or spending a few minutes reading a calming book that relaxes your body, fatigues your eyes and helps you forget the things that worry you.

You should also go to bed at roughly the same time every day so that your brain and body get used to a predictable bedtime.

4. Try relaxation techniques

Try to relax every day with a stress reduction technique.  There are many proven ways to reduce stress, so try a few and see what works best for you.

For example, try self-hypnosis, which is very simple and can be done anywhere, even at your desk or in the car.
A very simple technique is to focus on a word or phrase that has a positive meaning for you.
Words such as “rest” “love” and “peace” work well, or you could imagine a self-affirming mantra like “I deserve rest in my life” or “Give me serenity.”
Focus on your chosen word or phrase;
If you find that your mind is wandering around or you become aware of the intrusive thoughts that invade your mind, simply ignore them and return your focus to the chosen word or phrase.
If you are tense again later, simply repeat your word or phrase tacitly.

Don’t worry if it’s difficult to relax at first. Relaxation is a skill that needs to be learned and will improve with practice.

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