Are you stressed right now? It’s OK if you are. Stress is something each of us experience.
Stress isn’t always negative. We can have healthy stress — the kind that gets us to do things that need to be done. However, negative stress is different. It can last a long time, and hurt our health and wellness. Fortunately, there are many enjoyable ways to lessen stress. The more joy you can bring into your life, the less room there is for unhealthy stress to take root and cause health problems.
Finding ways to lessen stress is important, as a recent Consumer Reports OnHealth (October 2012) cover story detailed when it reviewed how stress can make us sick and offered ways to relieve it. The story cited a recent study that highlighted the link between negative stress and an increased risk for heart attack. Other research has linked unhealthy stress to type 2 diabetes, worsening depression and stomach problems.
The Consumer Reports story also reviewed how people often cope with stress in unhealthy ways. According to a recent American Psychological Association (APA) poll of 1,200 adults, 44 percent of people report lying awake at night and 39 percent ate too much or ate junk food when feeling under stress. Emotional signs of stress include feeling worried, angry, irritable, depressed and unable to focus. Physical signs can include headaches, back pain, problems sleeping, upset stomach, and frequent or more serious colds.
Reducing stress is key to our health, so how can we do it?
Stress reduction can begin with meditation and exercise. Meditation may work to relieve stress by increasing activity in the part of the nervous system that causes the heart and breathing rates to slow down. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, meditation lessens the “fight-or-flight response” and can lead to relaxation. Regular exercise relieves stress by lowering the levels of stress hormones. Exercises like Pilates, tai chi and yoga can lower blood pressure and heart rate. But ultimately, stress reduction could come down to joy. Having laughter and fun is another way to reset stress.
Here is a list of research-based, fun ideas to start lessening stress and increasing joy in your life. You can do many of these in 10 to 30 minutes a day:
|Ways to lessen stress and live a more joyful life|
What will you do today to relieve stress and bring more joy into your life?
Here’s how you can start: take a moment to write what you will do on a sheet of paper, giving the sheet a title: “Today, to bring more joy into my life, I will …”
Are you interested in learning more about ways to reduce stress in your life? Visit or call the community health librarians at one of Christiana Care’s consumer health libraries, and ask about books, CDs, DVDs and other resources that we have available to help you manage stress.