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Emily McManama
CENTURY 21 New Millennium

Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

We all have stress in our lives. Busy days at work, problems at home, traffic jams and money trouble are prime examples of stressful situations. However, chronic stress can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, so preventing and managing stress is essential to living happier and healthier.

Here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help you deal with stress:

Prepare yourself. Prepare ahead of time for stressful events like a job interview or a hard conversation with a loved one. Stay positive, picture what the room will look like and what you’ll say, and have a backup plan.

Plan your time. Feeling in control of your situation could lower stress. Think ahead about how you’re going to use your time. Write a to-do list and figure out what’s most important–then do that thing first. Be realistic about how long each task will take.

Relax with deep breathing or meditation. These are two effective ways to relax your muscles and clear your mind.

Relax your muscles. Stress causes tension in your muscles. Try stretching or taking a hot shower to help you relax.

Get active. Regular physical activity can help prevent and manage stress. It can also help relax your muscles and improve your mood. Aim for 2.5 hours a week of physical activity. Try riding a bike, taking a walk or lifting weights. Be sure to exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Eat healthy. Give your body plenty of energy by eating healthy, including vegetables, fruits and lean sources of protein.

Talk to friends and family. Tell your friends and family if you’re feeling stressed. They may be able to help.

Get professional help if you need it. Stress is a normal part of life. But if your stress doesn’t go away or keeps getting worse, you may need expert help. A mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or social worker, can help treat stress-related conditions. Lots of people need help dealing with stress–it’s nothing to be ashamed of.