Healthy Stress Relievers


Need to find some calm in your chaotic life? Learn how to manage stress in easy, quick ways. Learn 4 easy tips to make this possible

  1. Get Active! Any form of physical activity can be a great stress reliever. Exercising releases feel-good endorphins and can help to enhance your sense of well-being. Try adding in a quick walk, jog, bike, swim, or anything else into your daily routine.
  2. Laugh More! Laughing can cause positive physical changes in your body. Laughing fires up and then cools your stress response.
  3.  Connect with others! To get over stress don’t got it alone! Reach out to friends and family to get through the hard times. Having social contact can give you a distraction, provide support, and help overcome ups and downs. Get lunch with a friend, call a family member, or go volunteer!
  4. Assert Yourself! Don’t try to do it all…. All that will do is cause more stress! Learn to say “no” or to manage all your tasks by delegating and making lists.

To learn more on how to manage stress, visit

More Emotional Health...


Need to find some calm in your chaotic life? Learn how to manage stress in easy, quick ways. Learn 4 easy tips to make this possible

  1. Get Active! Any form of physical activity can be a great stress reliever. Exercising releases feel-good endorphins and can help to enhance your sense of well-being. Try adding in a quick walk, jog, bike, swim, or anything else into your daily routine.
  2. Laugh More! Laughing can cause positive physical changes in your body. Laughing fires up and then cools your stress response.
  3.  Connect with others! To get over stress don’t got it alone! Reach out to friends and family to get through the hard times. Having social contact can give you a distraction, provide support, and help overcome ups and downs. Get lunch with a friend, call a family member, or go volunteer!
  4. Assert Yourself! Don’t try to do it all…. All that will do is cause more stress! Learn to say “no” or to manage all your tasks by delegating and making lists.

To learn more on how to manage stress, visit

It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems

Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

  • Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
  • Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
  • Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
  • Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

    Start a Stress Journal

    A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

  • What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)
  • How you felt, both physically and emotionally
  • How you acted in response
  • What you did to make yourself feel better

    Look at how you currently cope with stress

    Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

    Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

    These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

    • Smoking

    • Drinking too much

    • Overeating or undereating

    • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer

    • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities

    • Using pills or drugs to relax

    • Sleeping too much

    • Procrastinating

    • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems

    • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

    Learning healthier ways to manage stress

    If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

    Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

    Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

    Change the situation:

    • Avoid the stressor

    • Alter the stressor

    Change your reaction:

    • Adapt to the stressor

    • Accept the stressor

    Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress

    Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

  • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.
  • Avoid people who stress you out– If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
  • Take control of your environment– If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.
  • Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
  • Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation

  • If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.
  • Be willing to compromise.When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
  • Be more assertive.Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.
  • Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor

  • If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

  • Reframe problems.Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
  • Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
  • Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
  • Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
  • Adjusting Your Attitude

    How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as "always," "never," "should," and "must." These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

    Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change

    Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable.Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
  • Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
  • Share your feelings.Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
  • Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments.Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation

  • Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

    Healthy ways to relax and recharge

    • Go for a walk.
    • Spend time in nature.
    • Call a good friend.
    • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
    • Write in your journal.
    • Take a long bath.
    • Light scented candles.
    • Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
    • Play with a pet.
    • Work in your garden.
    • Get a massage.
    • Curl up with a good book.
    • Listen to music.
    • Watch a comedy.

    Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

  • Set aside relaxation time.Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
  • Connect with others.Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
  • Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
  • Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle

  • You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

  • Exercise regularly.Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.
  • Eat a healthy diet.Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
  • Reduce caffeine and sugar.The temporary "highs" caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
  • Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

By: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Robert Segal, M.A.

Orginal Article:

Devising a depression treatment plan to get you up and out every morning can make dealing with work a lot easier.

Has daily gloom become part of your daily grind? Of the nearly 19 million American adults with a depressive disorder, almost 90 percent of them say that their illness has affected their ability to do their job.

That’s because when you have depression, it can be challenging to just get out of bed in the morning, much less go to work.

"There are different levels of depression," says Julie Walther Scheibel, MEd, a counselor at Concordia Seminary Counseling and Resource Center in St. Louis. "Some people are so depressed that they quit work."

With the right treatment plan, you probably will be able to manage working while undergoing depression treatment, and maybe even look forward to it.

Depression: Symptoms That Could Affect Work

Depression symptoms can affect every aspect of your life, and symptoms that are more likely to cause difficulty at work include:

  • Crying frequently
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritable mood
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pessimism or lack of caring
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

Depression: Making Work Easier

When your depression makes getting up and going to work difficult, you might want to enlist a friend or family member who can help motivate you.

"You need to have a spouse or someone else check in with you periodically to make sure you get going during the day," says Walther Scheibel.

While you are at work, it is important to:

  • Take regular breaks. Stepping back from work and doing something that relaxes you, like meditating or listening to music, can help you cope with stress.
  • Stay in touch. Make regular phone calls during the day to friends and family, since staying in contact with someone you trust can give you perspective on what really matters and keep you focused on getting better.
  • Take baby steps. When you are working on a project that seems overwhelming, break it into multiple steps, and complete them one at a time.
  • Stick with your depression treatment. Take your medications and attend your counseling sessions to ease the depression symptoms that are making it difficult for you to function.

Walther Scheibel also recommends finding things to do outside of work that relax you and bring you pleasure, such as regularly exercising, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, journaling, playing an instrument, or taking an art class — "things that soothe the mind," as she calls them.

She also recommends getting involved in activities that make you feel productive outside of work, such as volunteering, helping family members or friends, or taking classes to develop new skills.

Depression: Telling Co-Workers

Whether to tell co-workers about your depression is your decision. But if you need to take time off to focus on your depression treatment or if you need special accommodations at work, you’ll probably have to tell your supervisor or human resources department about your illness.

And it is an illness: There is no reason to be ashamed of your depression. When talking to a supervisor, focus on the positive aspects of your discussion, such as how the special accommodations will make you more productive.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to take care of you. When you are putting yourself first, your ability to work will improve, too.

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Original article:

The Smart Way to Snack - Custom-fit your snacks to your needs and schedule.

When you start fishing in your pocket for change for the evil vending machine, stop! Most people feel the need of a "little something" now and then during a busy day, but taking a second to "snack smart" will save you time, calories, and even money.

"Food is so available," Laurie A. Higgins, MS, RD, a pediatric nutrition educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, tells WebMD, "people don't take any with them and end up grabbing the fast, easy thing." This may be the worst, greasiest, sugariest, empty-calorie abomination on the face of the earth (OK, doughnut).

You know yourself, Higgins says, you know your age, weight, disease status (diabetes, low blood sugar), food allergies, whether you are pregnant or not. It's up to you to select the snack that fits both your individual needs and the occasion at hand. One size (and gooshy or crunchy mouth feel) does not fit all.

Snack With a Purpose

If you are a between-meals eater, look at your eating pattern, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, tells WebMD. "It may be a snack -- for you -- is a fourth meal or a good way to get a nutrient you missed. Think of it that way."

What are some common snacking moments, and what might you use to fill them (and yourself)?

When you need a wake-up or energy jolt. It's smart to eat a small breakfast of carbs and protein (cereal, egg, milk), says Duyff. It's even OK for most people to have a sensible amount of coffee, she says. "Have a latte with milk; that way you get a protein hit," she says (a candy bar will not give you the boost you want, she notes). Higgins also advises having milk or protein foods such as peanuts or cottage cheese.

Before leaving the office for a meeting. If you don't know when lunch is coming and need to be on top of your game, a piece of fruit or chunk of cheese is good. "Some people, especially young people, eat lunch early, so morning snacks may not even be needed, Higgins says.

Before working out. "The term 'carbo loading' refers to hours before an athletic event," Audrey T. Cross, PhD, professor of nutrition at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, tells WebMD. "But right before -- especially after a day of work -- you might want to prime the pump with a piece of fruit and a big glass of water."

After school or work. Depending on when dinner is scheduled, many people need a little nourishment when they get at home. Pediatric nutrition specialist Higgins recommends adolescents who are eating dinner late or running back out to athletic events eat a small meal consisting of a sandwich and a glass of milk -- regardless of whether they are diabetic or not. "Otherwise, young people come home and eat all the way until dinner, a cookie, a cracker, a soda; they are never satisfied. A sandwich is better."

Smart Snacks on a Diet

When you are cutting calories. Even adolescents can read labels, Higgins says. Popcorn, pretzels, or baked chips can be a good snack -- in moderation. Put the rest away on a high shelf. Cut-up veggies also make you work hard to chew and are satisfying. Cross recommends rice cakes with a little wake-up of peanut butter or cheese. "You are less likely to be hungry an hour later," she says.

During TV time. "I am not in favor of eating while watching TV," Cross says. "Have you ever watched someone eat while the TV is on? They are not tasting anything. They just need an activity to do while staring, and eating has become popular."

When out with friends. Sometimes it's also popular to "go for dessert" or grab a snack with your buddies. Cross recommends splitting a dessert. "If you get ice cream or To Die for Chocolate Torte, get one scoop or divide it," she says. "The real reason for going out is to be with your date or friends -- not the food."

At the movies. The movies are an example of an activity tied to food rather than time of day. "Why is this?" Duyff asks. "When we sit at the computer, we need a beverage. When we go to the movies, we need popcorn. We need to change our mindset."

Before partying. "It's an urban myth that you can coat your stomach with milk before drinking," laughs Duyff. "If there is going to be a lot of food, she adds, you may concentrate on eating rather than being with your friends and socializing. In that case, it might be better to have a snack beforehand to take the edge off. A cracker and cheese or those little carrots are good choices." (Remember, Duyff says, half a bottle of wine can contain up to 500 calories. In fact, Cross recommends drinking an equal amount of water after every drink.)

On the airplane. Call ahead and see if food is being provided, Cross advises. If not, bring a sandwich on board. Nothing salty or your feet might swell. "Coffee or another diuretic may mean more trips to the bathroom," Cross adds. "Water is good. And make it a juicy sandwich, with tomatoes."

Before bed. People who eat dinner early may get hungry at bed time. Milk contains tryptophan, which makes some people sleepy. On the flip side, Duyff says, chocolate ice cream may be a little buzzy and keep you awake. Chai tea can be soothing, Cross says. Eating too much and lying down causes heartburn in some people, so beware.

When traveling. Wise travelers bring packaged peanut butter crackers or other familiar little noshes, such as self-opening cans of tuna, in case restaurants are closed (forget those mini-bars).

If you want to plan ahead and remove temptation, Higgins says, check out some regular snack options online. You can go to the McDonald's web site (search on "nutrition"), for instance, and scope out the calorie and carb counts on the new offerings. She does this with her diabetic clients.

Although it's hard to "snackify," it's relaxing and softens stress.

But what about snacking against boredom? "Boredom or stress," Duyff says, "should not signal 'time to eat.' How about walking the dog or dancing around to a CD? Today it might be a celery stick, but tomorrow a whole bowl of something.

"A bowl of ice cream or a juicy peach should be enjoyed," Duyff adds. "That means every bite."

By: Star Lawrence, a medical journalist based in the Phoenix area.

Original Article: