This article first appeared on HealthXchange.sg.
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From the elderly to even young children, it seems that everyone deals with stress nowadays.
Stress is our body’s (and mind’s) way of telling us that something has upset our normal equilibrium. At times stress is not a bad thing as it may motivate us to succeed but sometimes, stress can affect us in a negative way.
- Eat a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods which are high in complex carbohydrates. An ideal diet also has moderate amounts of protein while remaining low in fat.
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine (coffee, black/red tea, soft drinks with caffeine, etc.) which could increase your anxiety and even cause palpitations. Don’t drink coffee after 6pm.
- Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life. Walk or do whatever exercise you feel comfortable with. You may prefer to join a fitness club. Be sure to exercise regularly. Don't concern yourself with your family or work while you are working out; this is your time and don't let anyone or anything interfere.
- Set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. For example, if you are dieting, realise that you cannot lose 10kg in one month. Allow for sufficient time to reach your goals and acknowledge that occasional setbacks may occur. Avoid expectations altogether if you can; expectations and reality are often two entirely different things.
- Learn that it is OK to say 'no' occasionally. Very often, we feel we have to say 'yes' to everyone, every time we are asked for help. Remember, you cannot be all things to all people. You must first meet your own needs before you can truly give others what they need.
- Make time for yourself. You have to be on top of your priority list. Attend to your own needs first. Once they are met you will find that you may have more time for others. You may find more pleasure in helping others when you don't feel that you must always put others’ needs before your own.
- Aromatherapy can be of tremendous help. Try using five or six drops of lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang or geranium essential oil in a warm bath, or put two or three drops on a cloth and inhale from time to time during the day. You can also use a few drops on your pillow to help you to sleep better.
- Adopt good sleep habits. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. Avoid very stimulating games and take a warm shower before bedtime to help you relax. Try to resolve arguments before bedtime. If possible, only bring up issues during daytime.
Eliminating the biggest sources of stress and learning to manage the rest will help you have a positive outlook towards life, which will have a positive trickling effect on your family and friends.
With better stress management techniques, things which seem overwhelming will soon become trivial. You will be healthier, happier, and more energetic; ready to face whatever obstacles that come your way.
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