Stress is part of being human, and it can help motivate you to get things done. Even high stress from serious illness, job loss, a death in the family, or a painful life event can be a natural part of life. You may feel down or anxious, and that’s normal too for a while. Talk to your doctor if you feel down or anxious for more than several weeks or if it starts to interfere with your home or work life. Therapy, medication, and other stategies help. In the meantime, there are things you can learn to manage stress before it gets to be too much. Consider these suggestions:
To start with, physical activity can help improve your sleep. And better sleep means better stress management. Doctors don’t yet know exactly why, but people who exercise more tend to get better deep “slow wave” sleep that helps renew the brain and body. Just take care not to exercise too close to bedtime, which disrupts sleep for some people. Exercise also seems to help mood. Part of the reason may be that it stimulates your body to release a number of hormones like endorphins and endocannabinoids that help block pain, improve sleep, and sedate you. Some of them (endocannabinoids) may be responsible for the euphoric feeling, or “runner’s high,” that some people report after long runs.
People who exercise also tend to feel less anxious and more positive about themselves. When your body feels good, your mind often follows. Get a dose of stress relief with these exercises: