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When you’re overwhelmed by stress, it’s difficult to stay committed to your heart’s desire, goals, and even your core values. Managing your stress is important if you want to regain control. If your stress level is high, the solution should not be to seek external brain-numbing tools such as binge TV watching, tobacco, alcohol, drug, food, or unhealthy sex.

Seek better and meaningful behaviors that combat stress, not add to it. It’s well documented that exercise is the most powerful tool for combating stress. Do whatever it takes to get to the gym, but don’t kill yourself exercising. While exercising helps with stress, it can also add to it if you are overdoing it, as the stress of exercising can be just as harmful as stress from other sources. This happens when we’re overtraining. How much exercise is the right amount depends on the individual, but there are warnings of overtraining, and these are sure signs you’re doing too much. In fact, these are real signs of overtraining or overstressing — fatigue, elevated blood pressure, a weakened immune system, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, and so on — are indistinguishable from the symptoms associated with chronic stress from other sources. Not knowing what to do or how to use gym equipment can also be a source of unnecessary stress.

Instead, be mindful, hire someone to show you the best modality, and most of all, allow time for recovery. Mental and physical exercises, sleep and dietary choices are important and are most powerful when combined to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. Movement and activity offer a diversion, getting you away from the source of stress and anxiety to clear your mind and allow you to sort through the problem. Regular exercise makes you look better and feel better about yourself.

Physiological changes that occur with long-term regular activity give you more strength, endurance, and energy to cope with difficult situations. Muscular tension, which builds up throughout a stressful day, is released with aerobic activity and stretching.

Furthermore, research has shown that exercise can reverse or improve many of the stress-related health problems. Benefits include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improved sleeping patterns, and lower body fat. Moreover, according to James Blumenthal, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Duke University, exercise is generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder (Psychosomatic Medicine, 2007).

Try New Things

What works for you may not work for someone else—one person may enjoy yoga, while another may feel calmer after running! Pay attention and determine what works best for you.

Here are some powerful and effective stress-reducing tips

  • Avoid stressful people and situations.
  • Build self-worth.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Surrender to and embrace change.
  • Find a skill you can turn into a passion.
  • Be grateful.
  • Do what you love.
  • Try new things.
  • Stick with integrity.
  • Have more fun.
  • Have a good laugh.
  • Have a good cry.
  • Smile often.
  • Know your expectations and adjust them when necessary.
  • Ask for help.
  • Connect with others.
  • Spend quality time with family.
  • Learn about mindfulness.
  • Meditate.
  • Do yoga.
  • Learn how to say no and delegate.
  • Be flexible.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Nurture yourself.
  • Spend time in nature; sit under a tree.
  • Manage your energy, not your time.
  • Trust in yourself.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch TV less.
  • Learn more.
  • Read more.
  • Make good love.
  • Express feelings instead of repressing them.
  • Address mental issues if you suspect them.

Mindful tips: Taking time out when things get tense may be a great idea. I find deep and slow breathing exercises very effective to reduce stress. Here is how to do it: Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose and breathe out through the nose. Do this for 3 minutes.

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