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How to Recognize Stress and Regain Control

By Sandy Schroeder

When stress clouds your brain and tires your body, it usually just keeps building. If you are in a high stress situation that overloads your physical, mental or emotional strength, the sooner you deal with it the better.

At the center of stress is a hormone called cortisol.  If you are under constant stress over a period of time, the body produces an excess of this hormone, which often becomes a weight trigger.

Stress can come from your family, job, finances, or other ongoing challenges.  But the end result is the same. The target is your health, and the result may be the classic apple shape with excess weight circling the stomach.

Stress-Cutting Steps

Stress reduction steps can lower cortisol levels and help your body regain health. Start by doing what you can to solve your current stress situation. That could mean looking for a new job, getting counseling for family problems, or getting assistance and advice on issues such as finance. Then take the next step and try some of these tips to reduce stress.

Deep, slow breathing - For 10 minutes sit quietly with your eyes closed and picture a place that makes you happy. Whenever stress builds, step away and breathe deeply.

Meditate, do yoga, or tai chi – Take a yoga class with its mind/body connections or try a tai chi class with its smooth, flowing movements that soothe the body and the soul.

Turn up the volume – Switch on your favorite music and let the magic fill the moment. Put your feet up and think good thoughts.

Return to a hobby - Get back to your favorite pastime, such as cooking, art or woodworking, and spend a little time each day enjoying it.

Learn something new - Try a class such as watercolors, or a weekly yoga session. Whatever sounds like fun, try it and enjoy the time apart from your regular routine.

Regroup with your pals – Round up some of your best buddies or old friends. Special people, who know you well, can help to make you laugh, and lighten the stress load. 

Tap your funny bone - We all have favorite TV programs from the past, or old movies that make us chuckle.  Keep them on hand to lighten the load.

Do some journaling - Let those upside down thoughts out. Don’t edit. Just let it all pour out. Whenever the day gets to be too much, take a moment and say what you are thinking.

If your stress situations are not letting up, and none of the stress reduction techniques really make a dent, see your physician to discuss the problem, and consider getting a recommendation for counseling.  Whatever it takes to work through the stress situation will be well worth the effort for your health and your happiness.


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