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Written by M. Sundberg

Stress is a struggle that we all endure from time to time. It can be motivating, but it can also be crushing when it becomes a daily occurrence. If you’ve been feeling stressed for a long period of time, it could become chronic if you don’t begin making changes in your life.

Why is it important to manage stress?

Not only does stress negatively affect your mood, but it can also cause a series of alarming physical effects on your body. Chronic stress can lead to over ten different serious health problems, including premature death, according to Mayo Clinic.

Common effects of stress on your body

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

How can I manage my stress?

Regular physical activity

Exercise has been proven to increase your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Working out or playing sports can also improve your mood by making you feel more relaxed and confident. Exercise can even contribute to a better night’s sleep, which can amplify the positive effects of your physical activity.

Relaxation techniques

Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation are a few great ways to quickly calm your nerves. You don’t need to be an expert to start practicing, as there are resources all over the web to learn various relaxation techniques.

Start small with deep breathing: Take five minutes to close your eyes, breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. There’s no wrong way to do it so long as you feel comfortable. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure, according to Harvard Health.

Socializing with family and friends

Getting out of the house can reap great benefits for your mental health. Friends and family can restore perspective that we can sometimes lose when we’re submerged in . Research has shown that those who make friends in their workplace are less likely to be vulnerable to stresses at work—remember that friends aren’t just for the weekend!

Setting aside time for hobbies

Everyone is different, and the same is true with it comes to relaxation. If your hobby calms you down and brings you peace, then it’s an excellent way to combat the stress in your life. Some of the more relaxing hobbies people name include:

  • Drawing or painting
  • Knitting
  • Photography
  • Cooking or baking
  • Puzzles
  • Writing
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Dancing

When should I seek help for stress?

Substance abuse, social withdrawal, emotional outbursts or changes in eating patterns may be signs of unhealthy stress management. If you feel unable to manage your stress in a healthy way, be sure to contact a mental health professional for assistance.