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    How to combat stress in your life

     

    Avoid the effects of stress

    Ways to avoid the effects of stress include identifying the stressor and learning how you respond to stress so you can know when to take a belly breath. Apparently taking several breathing sessions of as little as five minutes is beneficial. It is important to remember that the world will not explode if you take a breath.

    Better yet, add aromatherapy. Lavender has been found to significantly reduce cortisol levels in the blood.4

    Reduce the unhealthy behaviors you use to cope, and make healthier choices. Put down the wine, and go for a walk with the dog. Stress-reducing activities such as yoga and regular exercise will help. Extremely strenuous exercise may actually increase cortisol levels, so don’t over exercise.

    Sleeping eight hours every night—and naps—are beneficial. Power naps count.

    Ask for help if you need it. For consuls like me, that is a hard one, and I would rather give up Diet Coke than ask for help.

    Let’s face it, everyone needs a shrink on speed dial. Thankfully, I am married to mine.

    My favorite way to reduce stress is to get crafty.

    Buy Sharpies and a coloring book, turn on some relaxing music, and remember to breathe.

    Related: 7 tips from a Yankee OD living in the South

    References

    1. American Psychological Association. Stress effects on the body. Available at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx. Accessed 9/18/16.

    2. Randall M. The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis. Available at: http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/2011/02/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-.... Accessed 9/18/16.

    3. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, Miller GE, Frank E, Rabin BS, Turner RB. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 17;109(16):5995-5999.

    4. Hosseini S, Heydari A, Vakili M, Moghadam S, Tazyky S. Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery. Iran J Nurs Midwifery 

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    Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO
    Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the ...

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