What Is Stress & What Can You Do About It?

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Stress. We’ve all felt it, and sometimes, we’ve been the source of it. Stress can be a positive force, motivating you to perform well in certain situations. But more often than not, like being stuck in rush hour traffic after a long day at work, it’s a negative force. Common, everyday challenges, such as meeting deadlines at work, paying bills and juggling children’s needs can elicit stress on your body.

Reducing your stress levels can not only make you feel better right now, but can also keep you healthier, longer.

Some strategies for reducing stress include:

Identify what is causing you stress - Monitor your state of mind throughout the day. If you feel stressed, write down the cause, your thoughts and your mood. Once you know what's bothering you, develop a plan for addressing it. That might mean setting more reasonable expectations for yourself and others or asking for help with household responsibilities, job assignments or other tasks. List all your commitments, assess your priorities and then eliminate any tasks that are not absolutely essential.

Build strong relationships - Relationships can be a source of stress. Research has found that negative encounters with those closest to you cause immediate changes in stress-sensitive hormones, for example. But relationships can also serve as stress buffers. They may be able to offer practical assistance and support, useful ideas or just a fresh perspective as you begin to tackle whatever's causing your stress.

Let your mind rest - To help ensure you get the recommended seven or eight hours of shut-eye, cut back on caffeine, remove distractions such as television or computers from your bedroom and go to bed at the same time each night. Research shows that activities like yoga and relaxation exercises not only help reduce stress, but also boost immune functioning.