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Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Many people may be wondering what stress is and what it can do to your body. When we become stressed, our body will start the stress response. This is preparing your body to deal with the situation you are about to face. Many changes happen in the body such as: increased heart rate and blood pressure, dilation of the pupils of the eyes, digestion is turned off as blood rushes to your extremities, hearing becomes more acute, and many other changes occur.

You may now wonder why this process happens. This actually started back in the time period of the cavemen. They needed the stress response to get away from animals that may have been chasing them. Your body is not worried about digestion when you are running from a tiger. This is also called the flight or fight response. After you have analyzed your situation you have to determine if you are going to quickly leave or deal with your situation.

cope-with-stressWhen you have made your decision and the stressful event has passed, your body should return to normal or homeostasis. The problem is when you consistently stay at a high stress level and your body doesn’t return to normal. An example of a long term effect could be high blood pressure. You may also see weight gain if you are not sleeping enough. Many other health issues can arise from being stressed all of the time.

One way to combat stress is through exercise. Make sure that you leave yourself enough time to exercise so you don’t become more stressed. I would also say to leave your cell phone turned off and try to just pay attention to your workout.

Some good exercises to help with stress reduction are yoga, pilates, walking, and any other mind/body class that is available to you. Some other people find relief with other forms of exercise such as: running, weight training, or taking a fitness class. It really depends on which activities you like to do. It may even take you some tie to realize what will work for you.

Another strategy is meditation and relaxation classes. These are classes that teach you how to meditate and relax. However you choose to unwind, make sure that you are breathing properly. Use these techniques at work when you feel stress levels rising. Put your hand on your stomach and let your stomach fill up with air. You should feel your stomach with your hand. Too many times we chest breathe or use shallow breathing. This is when you breathe into your chest and the air does not make it to your stomach. You should try to use meditation techniques every day for a set amount of time. Try these strategies today and start to feel yourself become less stressed.


Robyn Caruso is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 15 years of experience in medical based fitness. 

MFN Industry Expert