Stress is a natural part of our everyday lives. It can be triggered by anything that demands more of our attention, from working late and getting stuck in traffic, to serious life changes such as death, divorce, or illness.
When faced with a stressful situation, your pulse races, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity. If the stress response lasts too long, it can harm your health.
You can’t always avoid stress in your life, but you can learn to manage it better. The National Institutes of Health recommend these measures:
- Set priorities. Decide what to do and what to expect and learn to say no to new tasks if you are overwhelmed.
- Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support. Seek help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to job responsibilities or family matters, such as caring for a loved one.
- Take time to do relaxing activities that you enjoy like reading, yoga, or gardening.
- Avoid obsessively thinking about problems. Focus on what you have accomplished, not what you have not been able to do.
- Get regular exercise. A moderate walk of just 30 minutes a day can help lift your spirits and reduce stress.