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10 Tips for Managing Your Stress

Has work or your home life got you frazzled? Reduce your load and relax with these simple stress-reduction strategies.

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1. Lean On Others

Studies of both animals and humans show that social contact can help tone down the body’s physical response to stress. It can even boost immunity. So cultivate a network of people you can turn to. Share what’s bothering you with a friend and ask for some helpful advice. Avoid people who always need something without giving back, or who are constantly moody or depressed.

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2. Declutter Your World

Stop hoarding old magazines, and throw away those old receipts and tax returns you no longer need. Clutter-free surroundings will help prevent the frustration of not being able to find something you need, and give you the reassuring knowledge that everything’s in its place.

Follow this guide to effectively declutter every room in your home.

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3. Eliminate Last-Minute Rushes

Leave the house 15 minutes early for appointments, set up a system for paying your bills (set up automatic payments online), refill your prescriptions a week ahead of time, and stock up on birthday cards whenever you see ones you like. A little advance planning can spare you a lot of headaches.

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4. Keep a Journal

Reflect on your day, your emotions, and your personal goals. Include everything that stresses you, so you can start to recognize patterns and take appropriate action. Writing is also a great way to relax and put things into perspective.

These are the subtle signs of stress you need to watch out for.

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5. Get Organized

Set aside a place for bills, paperwork, and letters. Store items you use most often in accessible places. Spend five minutes straightening your office or main living area at the end of the day. Keep a long-range calendar and a short-range to-do list. Check off items as you finish them.

Don’t miss these 30+ stress management tips from the experts.

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6. Get a Massage

Massage not only relaxes tense muscles, it decreases the level of stress hormones in the bloodstream and stimulates the release of serotonin, a brain chemical associated with relaxation and a feeling of well-being. Studies show that massage can even lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Try these 10 herbal remedies for stress relief.

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7. Chop Your To-Do List in Half

Most of us set the bar too high. After you’ve written your to-do list, decide what’s most important to you in the long run, then cut the list in half. If you can’t eliminate certain tasks, try to have someone else do them. For instance, hire a neighbourhood teenager to do the yard work, or skip cooking and order in.

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8. Carve Time for Yourself

Give higher priority to your “relax and renewal” time. Include it in your schedule at least every other day. If you have to cut out an activity to make time for your hobby-or a warm bath-then do it. Or spend some time alone reading or listening to music you love.

Learn about the surprising health benefits of stress-baking.

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9. Avoid Crowds

Schedule your commute to avoid traffic, go for lunch 15 minutes before the usual rush, make Thursday, not Saturday, your night out, shop for groceries on a weeknight, and order your clothes online.

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10. Laugh a Little

When you laugh, you send chemicals called endorphins to your brain that ease pain and enhance your feeling of well-being. Laughter also stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles and boosts your resistance to infection. If you laugh for 20 seconds, your body gets the same amount of beneficial oxygen-good for stress relief as it does in three minutes of aerobic exercise. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to stay tense while you’re laughing. Find cartoons, videos, TV shows, writers and comics that make you laugh. Share jokes with friends.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada