Stress is the body's reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response.
Distress is a negative stress response. It occurs when stress continues without relief. Distress disturbs the body's internal balance causing physical and emotional symptoms: headache, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, insomnia, depression, panic attack and anxiety.
Stress is a part of life. Knowing ways to manage stress can be beneficial.
1. Make Time to Relax.
2. Maintain a Normal Routine.As much as possible, try to stick to a normal daily routine. Limit additional responsibilities. Learn to say "No."
3. Eat a healthy Diet.Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid excessive sugar, fatty foods and caffeine. Use alcohol in moderation and don't try and self-medicate which can make the distress worse.
4. Include Exercise as Part of Your Day.Participating in some kind of moderate exercise activity for at least 30 minutes on most days helps relieve stress, boost energy levels, aid sleep and improve mood. Exercise is also good for the heart, lungs and mind. Activities include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, hiking
5. Keep a Positive Attitude.Holding positive thoughts, rather than succumbing to a negative one can help in maintaining a positive attitude. Think positively about yourself. Surrounding yourself with positive and inspiring people can help elevate your mood.
6. Participate in Activities You Enjoy.Make time for hobbies and other interests. Read a good book. Garden. Knit. Be part of a sports team. Keep a journal. Work on Crafts. Volunteer your services. Assist someone in need.
7. Get Enough Sleep.Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night will make it easier to cope with stress and distress. A well-rested person is more alert and quick thinking and less irritable, grouchy and tense.
8. Talk with a Trusted Person.Talking with someone about intense feelings when distressed can be helpful. Share feelings with a trusted friend, family member, healthcare professional or clergy. Sharing the distress helps to lessen the feelings of distress. Some find that participating in a support group with others who have experienced similar situations or events can also be helpful in easing distress.
9. Learn to Adapt Instead of Control.Accept that there will be situations, events and people throughout life that you are unable to control. Learning to be flexible, to roll with the punches and ride the waves can help in reducing stress.
10. Remember to Laugh.Laughter is one of the best medicines; it releases chemicals into the brain that promote relaxation. People who are able to find humor in life and are happier tend to be more productive live longer and have less physical problems. Maybe a good laugh a day will help keep the stressors away.
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© 2006. Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT. Licensed for use to About.com