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Healthy You

7 Surprising Ways to Manage Stress

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 7:37 AM

Stress is a tricky thing. Sometimes we are stressed over a big event or a project at work – but most of the time, it is over the little day-to-day things. It is important to learn how to manage stress, as it can raise blood pressure, contribute to sleep deprivation and cause increased – or decreased – appetite.


Robert Tanney, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares 7 unique ways to manage your stress:

  1. Breathing techniques. When you feel yourself getting stressed, pause for a moment to focus on your breathing. Put your hand below your belly button, breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Do this a few times.
  2. Write it down. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side list all of the stressors that you can control, and on the other side, list the items that you cannot control. You can then formulate how you can change what is in your control. For the items that you cannot control, think of them as being “released” from you now that they are down on paper.
  3. Give yourself a time-out. Just a short one by counting to 10. Then take a few deep breaths and maybe stretch your arms above your head.
  4. Rock on. Put on some soothing music – such as piano or classical music – to help lower your blood pressure and regulate your heart rate. This will help lower anxiety and calm you.
  5. Sit tall. People who are under stress tend to slouch. Straightening your spine will help increase your blood flow and oxygen to the brain, decreasing stress.
  6. Put away your phone. With the constant notifications and needing to feel “on”, cell phones can have a negative effect on our mental health. Put your phone on silent and out of arm’s reach.
  7. Cuddle up. Find a friend or companion who can offer you a big, long hug. Studies have found that holding hands for over 10 minutes or hugging for 20 seconds can measurably reduce stress.

How do you manage stress?