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Stress: Learning to Relax

April is Stress Awareness Month. Here are some ideas to help you relax and enjoy life more.

Stress is a fact of life. Some stress can help you meet life’s challengers. But too much stress can hurt you mentally and physically. Stress can come from every aspect from your life: work - deadlines, or too many projects; personal life- divorce, illness or financial problems; the environment - weather overcrowding and noise.

Over time it can cause or increase the risk of : allergies, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, changes in sleeping and sexual habits, confusion, depression, problems with work or relationships.

Everyone is different and so is their reaction to stress. Take time to find out the best ways for you to cope with stress. Keep in mind these general rules: find activities you enjoy, give yourself time to relax, stick with it. Be patient. It may take time for you to feel all the benefits of managing stress.

Exercise is one way to relieve tension. It is healthy and a natural way. Try to get 30 minutes or more moderately physical exercise on most days. Start gradually. Always warm up and cool down. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Walking helps me to relax and it gets me outside in the fresh air.

Hobbies can help you refresh your body and spirit. Music helps me forget the tension in my life. Other people find arts and crafts as a way to relive their stress. Volunteering for a cause you support can be another way to help you feel good and relieve stress. Find an activity that makes you feel good and you enjoy doing.

Get enough sleep so you are ready to handle the day’s challenges.

Talk with a trusted friend about problems you may be having.

Time management is also important. Keep a “to do” list. Be realistic, don’t overdo it or make too many commitments.

Eat right. Eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cut back on sweets, salt, and fatty foods.

Practice relaxation technique. Pick ones that suits and use it often. Meditation, visualization and deep breathing are examples. Here is a simple method of practicing deep breathing: relax the arms and shoulders, close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale. Repeat. Concentrate on your breathing and put away stressful thoughts.

Do not rely on substances to reduce your stress. They can actually make it worse and you become addicted to them. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, barbiturate and tranquilizers (unless prescribed by your health care provider and used as directed).

If you need further help contact your area mental health center, your state or local health department. Clergy and employee assistance programs are also good source of help. Locally contact Mental Health America of Jackson County at 812-522-3480, or

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Mental Health America Jackson County
P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176