Stress takes its toll on our bodies. It affects us physically, depletes us emotionally, and drains us of our ability to focus and be productive. In fact, most illnesses are caused or made worse by stress. Stay healthy with these strategies for alleviating your stress response:

1. Make a change. If you can’t eliminate a stressor, try to change how you react to it. Have trouble sleeping after you work late? Try working early in the morning instead. Are you eating fast food because you don’t have time to cook? Look into a healthy meal delivery service.

2. Take care of yourself. When we’re stressed, we should increase self-care, but most of us do the exact opposite. We skimp on sleep, eat poorly, drink more alcohol, and forego exercise. Grab a yogurt instead of a pastry for breakfast, or squeeze in 15 minutes on the treadmill after work. A healthy body manages stress better.

3. Move around. Exercise releases endorphins (the “feel-good” chemical) and is the best stress reliever around. Get that heart rate up for half an hour at least five days a week.

4. Get enough sleep. This is the first thing to go when people get stressed. Limit your caffeine, develop a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoid screen time right before bed.

5. Eat right. Food fuels your body, and the higher quality the fuel, the better your body will run. Eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and healthy.

6. Find ways to recharge. Take10-minute mini-breaks throughout the day. When you have a lot to do, you may be tempted to power through. But short, frequent breaks actually enhance productivity by making you feel clearer and more focused. Meditate for a few minutes, go for a walk at lunch or do some stretches at your desk.

7. Set specific goals. Instead of saying “I should eat better,” promise yourself to bring a healthy lunch to work every day. Rather than trying to get more rest, say you’ll turn the lights out by 11:00 every night. And don’t just talk about exercising more. Book a class or make a standing date with a running buddy.

8. Be grateful. Being actively grateful to your life. Write down three good things every day — it will surprise you how great something so simple can feel.

9. Just say no. Taking on too much will only add to your stress. When we say yes to everyone, we end up saying no to our own well-being.

10. Be mindful. Our brains spend a lot of time focusing on the past or the future. But there’s something incredibly soothing about just being in the present. Try a guided meditation, or just work on really noticing your breath moving in and out of your body. Focus on the little details of life, from the texture of your food to the sound of the wind in the trees.

Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.

Reducing stress in the workplace
This post is based on “Stress Busters” workshops hosted by Homewood Health, a trusted partner of our parent company, Manulife, for mental health and addiction services. In these seminars, employees spend time identifying their stressors and learning strategies for managing their reactions to them.

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