Stress management for better health

11679254_SFeeling stressed out? You’re not alone. Most of us have some level of stress. Our schedules are packed and there doesn’t seem to be enough time to cross everything off the ever-growing to-do list.

Some amount of stress is normal and even useful. Too much stress, however, can lead to headaches, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, and sleep issues. It can make you anxious, lead you to overeat and overwork your immune system.

This online tool from Kaiser Permanente can help you gauge how much stress you’re under and where it’s coming from. Here are some of the most effective ways to prevent stress overload:

Exercise. For many people, eating provides comfort during times of stress. But overeating can lead to more stress. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.

Acknowledge your feelings. Keeping a journal or talking with a trusted friend or family member can help you better manage stress. Seeing a professional therapist during times of severe stress can be extremely helpful as well.

Do something enjoyable. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever. Hobbies can help, too. When you have a demanding life, it can be difficult to justify setting aside time for things like reading and even coloring in an adult coloring book. But it’s something you need to do to help balance out all of that hard work.

Learn ways to relax. Try a yoga class, learn breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. Get a weekly massage. Consider listening to soothing music and trying aromatherapy.

Laugh. Try to look for the humor in life. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

The power of positive thinking

13721747_SYou may have heard that positive people live longer. They also tend to experience higher levels of happiness and less stress. But if you tend to see the glass as half empty instead of half full, can you still reap the benefits of positive thinking?

Research suggests the answer is a resounding yes. Here are three simple yet effective ways to start reaping the benefits of positive thinking:

Meditation — Research shows that those who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who don’t. And we’re not talking about saying ‘om’ for an hour. Even just a few minutes of meditation a day can help you dramatically boost your mood and facilitate positive thinking. The best part? Meditation is a simple thing to do — click here to get started — and doesn’t require any special equipment or a gym membership!

Writing — Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on pleasant memories and work through not-so-pleasant experiences, all of which can elevate your mood.

Play — All work and no play is boring — not to mention hazardous to your health. When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? It could be playing with your dog or watching your favorite show with a partner. There is even research that shows people who make time for themselves are much more positive and productive in their jobs!