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Stress Busters- Top 10 Ways to Reduce
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May 28, 2009, last updated February 19, 2016
By A.J. Lee, Featured Columnist

Nervous stomachs, anxiety disorders, fingernails bitten off almost fingernails
--these are all symptoms of untreated stress. Stress, large and small,
permeates our daily lives. The phone calls we have to return, the projects
we have to finish, the struggles our kids go through and put us through,
and of course financial pressures, all contribute to the general sense of
feeling out of control and stressed.

Stress plays a key role in the development of many chronic diseases. Stress
affects your body's ability to react to inflammation and is itself an
inflammatory event which can lead to the build up of plaque in your arteries,
when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, according to a  2008
study from School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Here are 10 tried-and-true lifestyle habits that will reduce stress:

1. Positive Self-talk.  Every day, and almost every hour, we talk to ourselves.
Most of the time, what we say to ourselves about ourselves is never voiced
out loud. But that doesn't mean this silent conversation with ourselves is not
powerful. In fact, the self-talk, because it goes on  constantly, is the most
powerful influence over what we come to believe about ourselves. To see
why is easy. Think of a child walking beside you. Imagine that every day you
tell this child that they are stupid, worthless, unlovable.  Over time, of course
the child believes it. It would be miraculous not to believe something that is
hammered into your head 24 hours a day.

That child is you.  And that person talking-- that's you too. You can in a very
real sense, shape what you believe about yourself.  Affirmations are true
statements about yourself. Write down 10 things you like about yourself.
People who get nervous often have self-confidence problems. It helps to
remind yourself of the positive things about you, what you do well, the
qualities you have that make you valuable to yourself your family and friends.

2. Exercise.
Exercise reduces the release of stress hormones. Try to walk at
least 40 minutes a day.  After 30 minutes of continuous walking, your blood
pressure starts to subside, your breathing becomes deeper, and you relax.

3. Laugh. Laughter elevates the amount of nitrous oxide in your blood,
which relaxes your blood vessels.  This is the reason that laughing gas
(nitrous oxide) is effective in dental procedures. When your body is flooded
with laughing gas, you can feel no pain.  You can feel no stress.

4. Bubble baths. Taking long warm bubble baths is a great way to relax. First
of all, bathing is done alone, usually, so it gives you some precious moments
of complete quiet and peace just fro yourself. Then, too, the bath is very
much lie our original home, the first place we experienced complete
safety--our mother's womb.   So, go back there. Swim in the safety and
warmth of this self-made womb.  While there, surround yourself with
aromas and sounds you love. Nothing is more peaceful.

5. Water. Speaking of water,
drinking water promotes relaxation.
Dehydration is a stressful state fr your body and mind. You need at least 8
glasses a day to keep your brain and the rest of your body hydrated

6. Friends. It's been estimated by, to be mentally healthy, al humans need at
least 5 social contacts a day.   Five. Any fewer number of contacts leads
eventually to feelings of isolation and depression. Therefore, reaching out to
your friends is not just something you do for them. It's something you must
do for yourself. You both need the social contact.

7. Larger purpose.  Having a larger sense of purpose is a reward in and of
itself. But it has the important side benefit of flooding your body with
endorphins--the feel good hormone--and contributes to your sense of worth
and happiness.  

8. Learn.  Learning is actually a human need. It's the reason we emerged
millions of years ago from caves. It's the reason we have become the
dominant (for better or worse) species on the planet. We learn faster. When
you stop learning, you feel unnatural. You feel less human.  What you learn
is up to you. But it should engage you enough, pull you enough, that it calls
you when you're away from it too long.

9. Music.  Music is that language above the words. It is that language of
emotion.  It animates the soul. We humans have always had it in some form
of another. There's a reason for that.  We don't need music to communicate.
We have the spoken and written word for that. But our souls need music to
be alive. That's why it exists.  In fact, that's why all art exists. To animate
our souls and allow us to feel what it means to be alive.

10. Fish and Dark Greens.  Eating fish with omega-3 fatty acids blocks teh
release of stress hormones, soothes your nerves.  High fish consumptoon
has been linked in numerous studies to decreased incidences of depression,
Alzheimer's and other mental disorders.  Eat fish as a rule, not as an
exception. You'll feel better for it. The other essential nutrient you need for
mental balance is magnesium. Magnesium is actually critical to supporting the
health of our entire nervous system. Eat
foods rich in magnesium, such as
spinach every single day.

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