Dealing with Stress

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Stress is a normal response to dealing with changes and challenges in daily life. In the short term, stress can help you perform better under pressure, but constant stress can pose problems for your health, wellness and quality of life. Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as adrenaline, which influences your blood pressure, heart rate, eating habits, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, fat metabolism and your ability to fight-off illness. Long term stress can also increase your risk of heart attack or stroke and contribute to depression.

Triggers of stress can sometimes seem trivial, the effects stress has on our bodies are not. Stress can leave us feeling uncomfortable, sick, or even in pain, and finding ways to manage it are crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Exercise is one of the most important, economical and easiest things you can do to combat stress. It might seem contradictory but putting your body through physical stress through exercise can relieve mental stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers. Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety. When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.

Try to find a physical activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, lifting weights or yoga. Activities that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.


One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. It’s important to focus your thoughts on what’s positive in your life rather than thinking about the things that stress you out and give you anxiety.

Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.

Get Organized

Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Getting organized can eliminate the stress of scrambling to catch up.  Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.

Work on the things that need your immediate attention, and give yourself a deadline to get the little things done.

Say No

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that not all stressors are within your control. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. Juggling too many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Be selective of what you take on.

Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the desire to exact revenge. And that’s not a very calm and peaceful reaction.

Get Physical

According to studies cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress. Positive touch can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.

Get Professional Help

If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren’t relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school.

Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tool.

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TDC NutritionistDealing with Stress

Befriending Anxiety

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Fear is helpful in a moment of threat, when it helps us immediately fight, flee, freeze, or faint and play dead. Anxiety, on the other hand, is not helpful. Anxiety is a condition of being fearful of an imagined future or threat. It has become a blanket term—a catchall container for worry, fear, dread, anticipation, and raw nerves. Many of us are anxious, overwhelmed by life’s constant demands and input. But far too many of us are not aware that we have the inner resources to meet anxiety compassionately and skillfully.

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Jennifer Freed, PhD, and Deborah Eden TullBefriending Anxiety

How to Befriend Your Ruminating Mind

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Sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening: We go from one thought to the next, innocently mulling over an issue. Maybe you’re debating whether a text you received from a friend was off-tone, or maybe you’re making calculated decisions about your next career move. Your mind can’t really help itself. It’s completely natural. It’s your mind’s job to think thoughts. But then you find yourself churning over the same issue again and again, and it’s ruining your focus, souring your mood, and interrupting your sleep—which means you might be ruminating yourself into a lather.

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Nina Purewal and Kate PetriwHow to Befriend Your Ruminating Mind

Body, Mind, Spirit, and Soul

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The Body

There are times we all feel like our body must be a liar—when we get a big pimple right before an important date or when we bloat before a black-tie event or a high school reunion. Or maybe when we melt inside looking at a picture of the person we’re no longer with and really wish we weren’t feeling that way. In those moments, we long to believe our body is a traitor.

The truth is your body cannot lie. It is always going to be truthful—it knows no other way. Its sole purpose is to take care of you and work hard on your behalf. Our body is constantly giving us signals to let us know what’s off or amiss. That pimple? It could be your body signaling that your hormones are off or that your new face cream isn’t a good fit for your skin, or it could be an emotional message for you to be kind to and accepting of yourself.

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