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Are You the Picture of Stress?

By Sandy Schroeder

If someone asks you if you are stressed, you may be tempted to shrug it off, assuming stress is inevitable in a fast-paced, sometimes frantic culture, but actual symptoms may tell a different story.

The American Psychological Association reports 77 percent of Americans regularly feel physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, exhaustion, muscle tightness, appetite changes, queasiness, or teeth grinding. Mental reactions such as anger, irritability, anxiety, or loss of energy are reported by 73 percent.

Understanding stress, and finding ways to let go of the tension may make the difference in your day, and your life. If symptoms persist, you may want to see your doctor and your psychologist.

Prevention suggests some simple stress releasers with breathing tips by Leah Lagos, PsyD., clinical and sports psychologist.

Help your heart – Whenever you feel tense, inhale as you recall  wonderful moments in your life. Remember the joy, and warmth. As you exhale, release all of the negative thoughts and feelings that you have. Your heart will respond to the positive thoughts and shift rhythms.

Let music ease your day – As you begin your day, play classical, jazz or your favorites. Stay tuned as you thread your way through traffic. Later, during breaks, and on the drive home, use music to add a lift as you let go of the day’s events. In the evening, use soft background music to wind down.

Take 10 – When tension hits, inhale for four seconds as you think about your feelings and fears. Then exhale for six seconds, releasing those feelings and letting it all go.

Be outside often – Whenever you have a few minutes, between meetings, during lunch, or after dinner, step outside. In the evening walk your dog or walk with your family. Create an outdoor retreat on your patio or in your garden,to sit and reflect or do yoga.

Acquire some furry friends – Pets have a way of making everything a little bit better. A dog, cat, or guinea pig can do a lot to lower your blood pressure and make you smile. If having your own pet is not feasible, volunteer at a dog shelter to walk dogs, or get to know your neighbor’s pets.

Share a hug – When you feel stressed, or see someone who is, a quick hug helps erase tension. Researchers have shown holding hands or hugging can lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate when people are stressed.

Try rocking – There may be a good reason why many of us have fond memories of rocking chair. Researchers say rocking helps soothe pain, and ease negative feelings.

If some of these tips work for you, let them help you slow everything down and level things out when stress won't let go.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Mesa, Ariz.

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