The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, www.adaa.org, has a lot of information about stress, anxiety disorders, and depression. Here's what it has to say about stress:
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.
Whether in good times or bad, most people say that stress interferes at least moderately with their lives. Chronic stress can affect your health, causing symptoms from headaches, high blood pressure, and chest pain to heart palpitations, skin rashes, and loss of sleep.
But you can learn how to reduce the impact of stress and manage your symptoms.
Physical activity is a proven way to reduce stress. Regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve sleep and self-esteem. Other effective methods include mind-body practices of breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.
Relaxation techniques have been used to assist in the treatment of phobias, panic disorder, and depression, as well as providing relief for people in stressful situations.
Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress
When you're feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you cope:
•Take a time-out. Practice yoga, (or stretching exercises, or Christian approach to yoga on dvd, like Atoning Yoga) listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
•Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
•Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
•Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
•Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
•Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
•Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
•Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
•Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
•Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
•Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
•Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
•Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
•Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.
•5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
•Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It's better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
•Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
•Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
•Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It's often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
•Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.