Take a breath and find your inner calm.  (FROM CANADIAN MS SOCIETY)

By Lena Sin (Sunday reporter, The Province)

Stress seems to be a subject we can’t stop talking about.  Maybe it’s because we really do have more of it.  According to researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, stress increased 18 per cent for women and 24 per cent for men from 1983 to 2009 in the U.S.A.

Meanwhile, nearly one- quarter of all Canadians 23.5 per cent aged 15 and older reported most days were “extremely or quite a bit stressful.  According to a 2010 Statistics Canada Report.  The figure was slightly higher than 22.3 per cent in 2008.

But there is no point in ruminating over stats if we’re not prepared to do something about it.  We turned to various experts for tips on how to melt away stress and restore well-being.

  • Immerse yourself in Nature – Expose to nature not only has the effect of reducing stress but for some people it can actually inoculate against it too.  What the research shows is if you’re stressed by something and you go and experience nature, take a walk in Stanley Park.  You’ll recover faster from that stress, meaning your blood pressure will come down more quickly and things like 1that.  Just a 10 minute walk in nature will have a positive impact.  Interestingly, the research also suggest being in manicured nature.  Such as a park, is better than being in the wild.  The theory is that walking through a bush is more likely to bring an unexpected experience than in a park.
  • Nurture social bonds and share good news – Strong social bonds make us happier, according to research. Friends are a great distraction in bad times.  But that doesn’t mean sharing every stressful moment with your family and friends will make you feel better.  In fact, talking too much about a problem can reinforce rumination.  When you start talking with friend, such as the water cooler talk of how bad the boss is. The problem with that is 2everyone starts chipping in and it churns up more focus on it.    Instead, consider putting it down on paper the next time you’re stressed.  Share your success with them , that means tell them the good stuff, share good things.  When bad things happen you didn’t get the raise or you got stuck with the raw end of the deal – those things can feel worse if you’re telling your friends.  You’re better off to write those things down.3
  • Exercise – This one’s been often repeated, but physical exercise is really a vital stress buster.  When you exercise, the body releases feel – good endorphins which make youfeel happy.  It also counteracts the stress hormone cortisol, which can affect body weight and the immune system and fuel everything fromheart attacks to headaches.  It is a good distractor.  If you’re playing a game of tennis, you forget about whatever the things are that are stressing you out.
  • Sleep – Make it a top priority to sleep.  When you get really stressed, t 4 he number of hours you sleep is not a place to cut.  If you skip sleep you’re going to be significantly diminished in your ability to handle stress.  Recommended 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Breathe– You can get amazing benefits from 20 seconds of deep breathing.  In stressful times, focusing on breath can change your nervous system from sympathetic, which is the fight or flight response, to parasympathetic, which is concerned with healing and regenerating the body.  One b
  • 5ig INHALATION, one big EXHALATION can do a lot.  But if you can devote two to five minutes, you can expect some really deep results.  Another technique is the three level breath, which takes about 45 seconds.  You can try this once, or do it for three times with pauses in between to breath nor
  • Breathe out emptying the lungs completely
  • Inhale to your lower ribs and hold for a count of three; then inhale to your chest and hold for a count of three; then inhale to your upper lungs and hold for a count of six
  • Do one big exhale.
  • Learn to fight fair at home – The pressure of being a working parent can often feel overwhelming so it’s vital that parents share home duties, such as cooking and caring for children.  If there is marital conflict then it’s important that spouses learn to fight fair and move on from an argument.  Conflict can’t 6 hang around, otherwise you’ll develop marital strain or home strain, which means people get stuck, your marriage doesn’t recover,  it’s not satisfying because there’s too much conflict.  Eventually, that leads to disengagement and people will separate.  The point is not to avoid conflict but to be able to move on from it.  The notion of avoiding conflict has now been discredited.  The best relationships include conflict.  In fact, couples who don’t have conflict are often disengaged.  We expect people to disagree but you must move on.  Fight Fair!
  • Be conscious of how much control you have –  Work is one of the most commonly cited sources of stress.  In Canada, roughly 3.7 million working adults or 27 per cent describe their lives on most 7 days as quite a bit or extremely stressful.  (according to a 2010 Statistics Canada Report) and of those highly stressed workers, more than half (62 per cent) cited work itself as the main source of their stress.  While everyone’s workplace situation varies, one universal thing to remember is that you have control over your situation, or your reaction to it.  Remembering this will make you more motivated to shape your situation.  If we feel we’re totally the victim of what happens we don’t have a sense of resilience.  And sometimes when we’re feeling not well, it’s more difficult to choose our responses.
  • Don’t react to negative people – One of the most common problems is dealing with “problem personalities” in the workplace.  And one of the most effective strategies is to try and not react to that person.  For example: a boss who is mean, overly critical, or doesn’t give credit where it’s 8due likely exhibits similar behavior in other areas of his or her life, meaning it’s not personal.  By reminding yourself it’s not about you and accepting the situation, it will diminish the desire to change someone, another common source of stress.
  • Don’t turn stress into your identity – How many times have you told yourself that you are stressed?  Say it enough times, and it becomes your reality, whether it’s true or not.  People don’t realize how much they take on being busy and stressed as their identity.  Some people take on this identity because it makes them feel virtuous without even realizing it.  Others might 9take it on because they think it’s expected.  Being conscious of your inner negative voice can help you slow down and identify what is actually going on in your life.  Ask your-self ~ is this really me?  Or have I taken on an identity that’s associated with my role right now that has nothing to do with me?

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