How to Reduce Stress

Due to the financial turmoil of the last two years many people are feeling additional stress and anxiety. I have seen increased anxiety in my clients and associates and I am not alone in this observations. The American Psychological Association discovered that 50% of Americans have become more stressed this past year as fear and worry about the economy take a toll on the physical & emotional health of people.

Some physical signs of stress include nervousness, nail biting, lack of energy, muscle tension, sleeplessness and headaches. In addition, stress affects your perception about yourself, as it attacks your self esteem and your relationship with others, because it makes you edgy and impatient. Common psychological signs of stress include: confusion, depression, overeating or lack of appetite, mood change, increased use of alcohol and other drugs and a change in sleep or sexual habits.

While pressure and demands are increased at this time in our fiscal history, they also originate from other sources in your life such as: your job, as attrition causes increased work and unrealistic pressure to meet deadlines; your personal life as unemployment, debt, higher prices or illness emerge; and your environment including the weather and noise levels and stress around you, which can interfere with your ability to relax.

If any of the above factors are your reality, what can you do about it? Some of these suggestions are obvious and you already know them, so I would encourage you to begin practicing them. Other suggestions will be new to you and I would encourage you to adopt the ones that appeal to you.

COMMIT TO A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE:
1. Healthy eating: During stressful times, it is easy to skip a meal, or load up on sugar or caffeine to get you going. Make every effort to eat three healthy meals a day and if you need a snack choose a healthy alternative like nuts, cheese or fruit. Minimize your caffeine intake because it will keep you wired and avoid all caffeine after 3pm because it will prevent you from having a restful sleep.

2. Exercise or any movement relieves physical stress and clears your brain. Try to get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise at least three times a week. Stress is contagious, rather than spend your time rehashing the financial situation or office problems with tense co-workers, go for a brisk walk. If you are under intense stress, you might want to incorporate an intense workout in your week to pump additional blood and endorphins through your body.

3. Sleep is a key element to help you meet the day with energy and a sense of well being. Establish realistic sleep patterns and rituals. Go to sleep at the same time every night, that will get your body conditioned to fall asleep. Substitute suspenseful television shows or books with more relaxing venue.

ADDITONAL WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS:

1. Meditation/prayer: Take at least 3 minutes a day to be still and allow the power of the Universe to enfold you with love and inspiration.

2. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce stress. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment, think about what is causing you to be stressed, feel your feelings fully then send them off with an exhalation. Continue to breathe slowly and gently until your body relaxes.

3. Avoid stressful stimuli. Stop checking the stock market hourly! Avoid the news. Practice the Serenity prayer as you change what you can change and ask for the serenity to accept what you can not change. At this moment in time, you can not change the economic climate. Focus on what you can do about your situation and exercise more control in your life.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Look at what is good in your life this is just as true as your finances. Each night before you go to sleep think of 3 things that you are thankful for. It may be your health, your family, the beautiful weather or your pet.

2. Get outside of yourself as you do a random act of kindness for another person. This will help build up your endorphins.

3. Commit to fun and laughter – go back to a favorite hobby, hang with positive people, watch funny TV shows.

“People with impoverished vocabularies live impoverished lives; to lead a rich life, use rich vocabulary”. Anthony Robbins, Life coach.

Author's Bio: 

JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan, LCSW shares positive strategies that will decrease stress and increase inner tranquility. Listen to her breakthrough CD which teaches you how to gauge your “emotional” energy and provides practices that help protect your inner strength. Develop holistic, healing methodologies that will empower you in self-improvement and personal development. Learn how to become more grounded while you create your own personal coping strategies.

She is an experienced and sought after lecturer. She has presented weekend Retreats at Our Lady of Calvary in Farmington, CT since 1991. In this capacity, she writes and conducts conferences, runs groups and meets with people for one-on-one counseling. She has prepared day long workshops for NASW and academic programs for social work students. She continues to teach Continuing Education programs and has begun presenting her Journey program to yoga studios, school teachers, businesses and local organizations.
* LCSW- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
* MTS- Masters in Theological Studies
* Certified Hypnotherapist