Exercises for Managing Stress



Life is full of experiences that involve stress.  Positive and negative experiences can both be stressful.  The American Psychological Association article, “Managing Stress” says, “the stress response is a survival mechanism that primes us to respond to threats.”  Stress can impact many parts of our lives like work, family, relationships, and how our body feels.

The article talks about 5 exercises that can calm your body and help you manage stress.

  1. Calm Yourself:  Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 6 seconds and hold your breath for 6 seconds.  Repeat this exercise 10 times.  Slowing and managing breathing helps reset our body.
  2. Focus Yourself: Slow your thoughts – count backwards from 100 (100, 99, 98, etc.)
  3. Relax: Start at the top of the head (or from the bottom of the feet).  Go from muscle to muscle and tense each one for 10 seconds, then release.  Focus on how it feels to let each muscle relax.  Practicing relaxing the muscles helps us reduce anxiety and feel calm.
  4. Ground Yourself: “Do a quick scan of your body and notice the air around you and any surfaces you are touching. Close your eyes and focus on the sensations, textures, and temperatures.”  This helps you become aware of your surroundings.
  5. Celebrate Yourself: You have a lot going on!  Make a list of 3-4 things that are positive or go well each day.  Focusing on the positive small things will help you get through the hard things.

Please see the American Psychological Association article to obtain more information about these stress reducing exercises.

Over the next week, challenge yourself to do one of these exercises each day.  It takes practice, but over time you will notice a change in your ability to manage stressors.

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