6 Ways to Combat Stress

Did you know your body has no way to differentiate between short-term and long-term stress?

More importantly, do you know that chronic stress can be a major factor in preventing you from losing weight?

When it comes to stress I would almost consider myself an expert. Not only do I suffer from perfectionist and OCD tendencies – I am a complete control freak. Not a great combination – just ask my husband!

We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight” response that our body has when faced with a situation. Stress can affect the body much in the same way.

When a person is in a chronic state of stress their body works to store as much as it can to prepare for the pending “fight.” The problem is when you are in a chronic state of stress your body cannot “shut down” it’s natural process of storing the fat and nutrients you will need to compete in the battle and can result in retention of unwanted pounds.

Let’s not forget about what many of us tend to do when stressed…eat more unhealthy foods, drink more alcohol in an attempt to relax, or maybe even smoke cigarettes. It’s obvious without saying that all of these things can have negative effects on your system.

So what’s the solution? Let’s take a look at some effective ways to combat stress and improve your health and quality of life.

First, examine the source of the stress and determine if there is anything that you can really do about it. If so, create a logical plan for overcoming the stress. For instance, work can be a great source of stress for many people and unless you are financially secure, quitting isn’t exactly an option. So take a look at your workday. Do you need to be better about setting limits on your responsibilities or the number of hours you are committing to your job? As a reformed workaholic I can tell you I know the difficulties of pulling back, however, in the end you will be a much better employee (and person) for doing it.

Second, find a way to release your stress. We all have activities that bring us pleasure. Find a hobby that helps you to release tension. For me it’s running, for you it might be reading a book or playing video games. Whatever it is, take the time to indulge in your hobby at least a couple times a week. I think you will notice a significant difference in your stress level once you start doing something of enjoyment purely for yourself.

Third, get out there and move. Getting in a good workout can help you not only blow off some steam but also increase the production of endorphins in your system. The release of endorphins can produce a feeling of well-being, which counteracts the stress.

Fourth, surround yourself with positive people. It’s very important that as you focus on achieving better health that you examine the health of your relationships. Let’s face it – some relationships are simply toxic and contribute to stress and bad habits. When you surround yourself with positive people you will find laughter and smiles come much more easily, which in themselves are a great combat for stress!

Fifth, breathe. All too often when we are stressed we take quick, shallow breaths, which drastically reduce the amount of oxygen flowing through our blood. Reduced oxygenation intensifies the physical affects that stress has on our body. Slow down, breathe in deeply and exhale fully. Try it even just for one minute and I’m sure you will experience a diminished level of stress.

Finally, smile. Even when it’s hard, smile. It’s extremely hard to let stress take you over when you have a smile on your face!

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