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Five Simple Ways to Manage Stress

Reducing stress shouldn't be stressful itself, so don't overwhelm yourself by trying to make a lot of big changes right away. Making one simple change to your daily routine can put you on the path to a calmer, healthier life.

"It's not impossible to reduce stress. Taking baby steps makes lowering your stress more manageable and more achievable," says Dr. Kim Ariyabuddhiphongs, a primary care physician specializing in women's health and integrative medicine at BIDMC.

Try one of Dr. Ariyabuddhiphongs' suggestions and start feeling better today.

1. Be Prepared

Sometimes stress stems from not being prepared for all the responsibilities and tasks the day can bring. As much as possible, prepare for what you might perceive as a stressful situation by taking time during the day before to review what's coming up the next day.

2. Build a Strong Support Network

Some of what we experience as stress is simply not realizing that there are many resources out there to help us. Lean on friends and family to talk through a stressful day or situation. And don't forget that the support network can include people in your health care team - your primary care physician, therapist, or social worker. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

3. Take Time for Yourself

Most people tend to put their own needs behind everyone else's. That's a nice thing to do, but if we're so overburdened that we can't function properly or become ill trying, we're no good to anyone. Give yourself five minutes each day to step away from the responsibilities of life, close your eyes and just breathe.

4. Go to Sleep

Sleep is essential to restore your body and mind for the next day's activities, so make sleep a priority in your life. Between seven and nine hours of restful sleep are recommended each night. Don't skimp on this one - your body and mind will thank you for it.

5. Eat Healthy and Get Your Body Moving

Make physical activity a regular part of your day. We spend so much time indoors, sitting at computers, that it's extremely important to get up and move. Little changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a walk with your kids, are great ways to incorporate exercise into your day. Just 10 minutes of movement three times a week is a good start. And when it comes to eating right, moderation is key. If it's unrealistic for you to completely give up unhealthy foods, then cut back. Have one glass of soda a day instead of three or cut yourself a smaller piece of cake. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol and try to give up really unhealthy habits, like smoking, completely. They may make you feel better at first, but in the long run they'll only make you feel worse.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted September 2011

Contact Information

General Medicine and Primary Care
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Carl J. Shapiro Clinical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215