A multi-level approach to stress reduction will bring you maximum success in reducing your level of overall stress. The main parts of a successful stress management program are:

Exercise -- 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily is a basic element of your stress reduction program. Do any type of exercise you like, as long as it gets your heart rate and breathing rate up –- walking, biking, sports, swimming, jogging. Do something you like -– you'll be more likely to stick to it. Note: it’s best not to work out vigorously in the 4 hours before you go to bed.

Sleep -- Most people require an average of 8 hours of rest per night for good health. Many Americans are chronically sleep-deprived! Restful sleep is the time that your body repairs itself, and makes ready for tomorrow's activities. A sleep deficit may lead to heightened amounts of depression and anxiety, weight gain, reduction of immune system health, and higher stress levels.

Diet -- A nutritious, balanced diet helps your body shed the corrosive effects of stress. An effective multi-vitamin every day is also a great idea, especially one with plenty of Vitamins A, C, and E –- for good anti-oxidant support. Don't eat a big meal too close to bedtime, as your digestive processes may interfere with your rest.

Moderate use of alcohol -- While it may be tempting to have several drinks to wind down after a tough day, alcohol causes some negative side-effects, especially when you have more than one beverage daily. Negative moods, weight gain, irritability in marriages, and poor sleep can result from increased alcohol intake. There are better methods to unwind!

Relaxation -- Deep Relaxation provides the most effective way to calm your thoughts and allow your body to completely rest. 20-30 minutes daily is optimal. Meditation or other contemplative activities such as yoga, listening to a relaxation cd, or simply watching your breath will help your body to shift into the Relaxation Response.

"When am I supposed to do all this? I am too busy to just exercise and relax and take it easy every day. How is it possible to fit all this in?"

It’s understandably challenging to fit it all in! So, search out ways to do at least some kind of self-care on a daily basis.

See if you can squeeze a half hour a day into your schedule for taking care of yourself and learning to relax. That’s terrific! You can take a walk one day, listen to a relaxation cd the next day, take a bike ride the next day, meditate for a half hour the following day, and so on.

If it’s not possible to do it all every day, don’t get discouraged and give up! If you at a minimum do thirty minutes of your stress reduction program each day, you soon will feel tangible results.

Planning ahead to make sure you can eat nutritious meals at regular times during the day won’t take any longer –- in reality, it is likely to take less time than waiting until the last minute to determine what you will eat.

Sleeping an additional thirty minutes –- which may mean going to bed a bit earlier –- will result in increased efficiency. Studies have shown that persons who are well rested get more done in less time and with higher quality, than do persons who are not rested.

As your stress level begins to diminish, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your half-hour of daily self care. You’re treating yourself –- to relaxation, to exercise, to good sleep.

You will feel stronger and function better as your stress level diminishes. You’ll enjoy being more resilient when dealing with daily hassles like traffic, difficult people, bills. And you will be more effective, accomplishing more in a shorter time with less wear and tear on yourself than you had thought possible!


Let go of Stress.

Take care of yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Sandi Anders, M.Div., R.Y.T. www.SandiAnders.com is a yoga and meditation teacher and life coach in Nashville, TN. Her relaxation CD The Alchemy of Peace and Love www.imagery4relaxation.com combines a gentle and effective relaxation meditation with a powerful guided imagery experience to boost self-esteem. She recommends Stress Management and Relaxation resources at www.Books4SelfHelp.com/stress-management.htm.