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Managing Stress

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Stress is common in daily life and may be associated with work, family or personal relationships. Stress if left un-addressed can lead to depression. Whatever the cause, there are some simple steps which can help to reduce stress.


Ways of Managing Stress

(1) Reducing stress and anxiety

•Practice slow-breathing exercises to decrease stress and anxiety.

•Learn and practice relaxation techniques.

•Understand how important physical activity is for good mental health.

(2) Getting enough sleep

•Difficulty sleeping is a common problem.

•Depression disturbs sleep and disrupts the body clock.

•Sleeplessness and being tired may lead to irritability, lack of energy and poor concentration.

•It's not the total length of sleep that matters, but the quality of deep sleep and dream sleep.

•Most deep sleep occurs during the first five hours after falling asleep at night. Even if a person sleeps for only four or five hours, they will still get about the same amount of deep sleep as someone who sleeps for eight to 10 hours.

(3) Keeping active

•Regular gentle exercise is helpful.

•Exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, golf or a gym workout can help relieve mental tension, as well as muscle tension.

•Try to do some exercise every day, even if it's just walking around the block

It's important to have an activity plan.

•Continue to do things that give a sense of achievement.

•Plan activities to keep active.

•Maintain social contact.

•Be physically active.

(4) Reducing alcohol and other drugs

•Many people try to make themselves feel better with alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis and other drugs.

•Although these substances may provide temporary relief, they may also cause long-term problems.

•Most illegal drugs and alcohol interfere with the effects of antidepressant drugs. If a person has been consuming large amounts of alcohol or drugs, it's important to tell the doctor, so an appropriate treatment plan can be devised

Dealing with a bad day

Everyone has sad days. Everyone has times when things are really tough. Here are some suggestions to help deal with the bad days.

(1) Don't stay in bed

It's best to get up and get on with a normal routine as soon as possible e.g.; to school/university, meeting friends or family. If a person is based at home, it may help to go outside for a while and do some physical activity like walking to get the newspaper. Avoid napping during the day, as it upsets the 'body clock' and makes it harder to fall asleep at night.

(2) Catch up with friends

When people get depressed, often they don't feel like socialising, but it's important to continue to talk to your family and friends. Talk to them on the phone or organise to meet for a coffee or go to a movie. If people remain isolated, there's a greater risk of developing depression.

(3) Keep active

Plan to do at least one enjoyable activity every day. This may be reading, listening to music, watching movies, going to the beach or park, gardening, taking part in sport or seeing friends. Regular activities are important to maintain good mental and physical health. At first, finding the activities enjoyable may be a challenge, but persistence is the key.

Exercise physiologists are people who have an understanding of how exercising affects the body and mind. They can help people get motivated, develop an individual exercise plan and stay on track.

(4) Learn to manage stress

Take time out. Go for a walk, play sports or take up meditation.

Stress can affect how you breathe and cause muscle tension. Breathing quickly and having tense muscles can, in turn, make you feel more stressed. You can stop this vicious cycle, by learning and practicing new breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.

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