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Did you know that stress can affect your mental health and your physical health? Some common ways that the body may respond to stress include: headaches, decreased energy, difficulty sleeping, stomach aches, neck and back pain, or feelings such as anxiety, impatience or being forgetful.1 How you and your body respond to stress can make the difference between a challenging day and a more positive day. Use the tips below to manage your stress level and make happiness a more frequent part of your life.2,3
- Take Care of Yourself – While this may seem obvious, there are times that we seem to put everyone else’s needs before our own. Nurture and fuel your body and mind by taking care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet that includes healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nonfat dairy products. Aim for at least thirty minutes of physical activity a day and be sure to get a good night’s sleep. In addition to caring for your body, be sure to take care of your mind. Make it a point to do at least one thing that you enjoy each day, such as reading a magazine or listening to relaxing music.
- Include Laughter In Your Day – Make each day fun by filling it with laughter. If you have a favorite comic strip, cut it out and hang it up at your desk and read it throughout the day. Watch a funny movie, listen to a comedian, or play a game of charades. You can also share a good joke with a friend or family member. Laughter can make you feel good and lighten up your day.
- Express Yourself - Reach out to friends or family members to share your feelings and remind yourself that you’re not alone. Whether it’s a quick chat or email in the middle of a hectic day or meeting a friend for lunch, spending time with people you care about can give you a much-needed boost. You can also use the free online journal at www.jennycraig.com.
- Make a Difference to Others – It is easy to get caught up in the daily tasks of a busy lifestyle; yet typical day-to-day activities don’t provide the same satisfaction as helping others. This can provide a new perspective and increase your sense of contentment. Volunteer some time to do something that is personally important and rewarding to you. Some ideas include passing out snacks at a senior center, reading to children at a local library, stocking cans at the food pantry, or taking time to help a sick friend or a neighbor in need.
- Go With the Flow – There will always be things in our life that are out of our control that we can not change. It is important to accept those things and move forward. When you feel your stress level increasing over something you cannot impact, it’s time to take a short break from the situation and go for a short walk or take a few deep breaths to refocus.
- Practice Optimism - Negative thinking can increase your stress level and make it challenging to have a positive outlook. Instead of worrying about things, focusing on how difficult something will be or bracing yourself for the worst, put a positive spin on life. Reframe your thinking and continuously tell yourself that you can deal with it and keep trying until you do. For daily affirmations, go online at www.jennycraig.com to review or add an affirmation as often as you’d like. Select or create an affirmation and keep it in a visible place such as on your screensaver at work or your refrigerator at home for daily positive reminders.
- Do Something New - Feel like you’re stuck in a routine? Sometimes the simple act of trying something new can bring more happiness and pleasure into our lives. Take a gardening class, learn a new language, plan that vacation you’ve always wanted to take or select a new hobby. You can meet new people while you practice new skills.
- Simplify Things – If you find that you are running yourself ragged and trying to “do it all,” focus on what’s really important and work on decreasing some of the stressors in your life. Start by making a “to do” list. Planning ahead and prioritizing your responsibilities can make it easier to get organized and stay focused on the important things.
If you need assistance in dealing with stress or coping with your feelings, please contact your healthcare provider.
1. American Heart Association. How Does Stress Affect You. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/HowDoesStressAffectYou/How-Does-Stress-Affect-You_UCM_307985_Article.jsp. Accessed on August 21, 2010.
2. American Heart Association. Fight Stress with Healthy Habits. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/FightStressWithHealthyHabits/Fight-Stress-with-Healthy-Habits_UCM_307992_Article.jsp. Accessed on August 21, 2010.
3. American Heart Association. Four Ways to Deal with Stress. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/FourWaystoDealwithStress/Four-Ways-to-Deal-with-Stress_UCM_307996_Articles.jsp. Accessed on August 21, 2010.
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