Want to Improve Your Health? Relax.

It’s almost inevitable that stress comes our way during the day. There’s so much to do and so many thingsElla Health relaxing going on all at once. But stress can take its toll on our health. Did you know that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related ailments and complaints? The pressure we feel every day contributes to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety and a long list of other concerns.

Because stress is such a significant factor in our overall health, addressing it and helping women to manage it better is an important component of our physical therapy programs. We talk a lot about what is causing the stress and what can be done about it. While we may not be able to stop the things that stress us out, we can at least make changes to better manage it. While there are many options, you don’t need to add to your stress level by trying to do them all. Just doing one or two things can make a big difference.

A few options:

Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can sap your energy level and make it harder for you to cope with issues. Without enough sleep, you are more likely to overeat and skip exercising. If you didn’t get enough sleep, though, don’t get too hard on yourself. Just plan your day and try to get some rest when you can.

Exercise. Take a walk, go for a run, set off on a bike, or try a cardio class. Being active lets you step away from your challenges for a bit, which can help put them into perspective. Plus, it bumps up the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel good. Regular exercise can improve your sleep and lower the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Plan your day. Make a list of what you need to do and then set your priorities so you make sure to get done what you want most. Choose three things that must be done for work and three things for yourself. You can probably get more done, but this helps you to focus on the critical tasks without the pressure of trying to do too much.

Do only one task at a time and stay present while working on it. Stress often comes from being overwhelmed. Give yourself a break from thinking about all of the things that have to be done by focusing on one thing at a time. This step also reduces sensory overload, which is key to being able to relax.

Take breaks throughout the day. Switch activities every 60-90 minutes to give yourself a rest. Try to sit for no more than two to three hours at a time. Stand up and stretch or go for a brief walk to reduce tension.

Plan a fun activity for each evening. It helps to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. This could be meeting with friends, going out with your significant other or even just watching a favorite TV show. Find some time every week to disconnect from work entirely. Taking a hike, relaxing in the backyard or having a longer meal with friends and family could do the trick.

Put things into a bigger perspective. Remind yourself that you live inside your mind and that you are only as stressed out as you allow yourself to be. Make a list of what is stressing you and then make a list of the things that you are thankful for and the things that make you happy. Some people find that looking at things on paper helps to see them in a different way. Ask yourself how much the things that are stressing you out now will matter in a year.

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