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hand squeezing red stress ball

The many obligations and concerns that surround our jobs, homes, and personal relationships make stress an unavoidable part of life. People experience stress in different ways, and some cope with it better than others. Feelings of stress can even cause physical effects on the body; varying from high blood pressure to long-term heart problems.

While we can’t always prevent life from getting a bit overwhelming, we can take steps to keep our stress under control. Here are some ideas to better manage stress:

Get Quality Sleep

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep per day. However, quality sleep depends on more than simply getting enough hours each night. You can improve your sleep cycles by practicing good sleep hygiene such as avoiding large meals before bed and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.

Tracking personal sleep patterns in a diary can also help you discover new ways to improve your habits. The National Sleep Foundation provides additional tips for improved sleep; including cutting down on naps, investing in comfortable bedding, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes before bed.

Eat Well

Maintaining a nutritious diet keeps your mind alert and reduces your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.   Visit Mass in Motion – a statewide movement that promotes community wellness – for kid-friendly and adult-friendly guidance on healthy eating, appropriate serving sizes and how to make the right food choices while dining out.

Exercise

Physical activity is a natural mood enhancer that keeps you energized and reduces the risk of depression. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week – such as brisk walking or jogging – and additional muscle-strengthening activities twice a week.

Remember, you don’t need a gym membership to exercise, and you can break up the work into smaller chunks of time throughout the week. If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to start small and work past your barriers. There are also unique physical activity resources for people with disabilities and pregnant women.

Have Fun

You’ll be better equipped to deal with stress if you make time for the things you love. Try incorporating something fun into your regular schedule such as calling a friend, exploring the Commonwealth’s amazing arts and culture scenes, or doing outdoor activities like camping to help reduce stress.

Talk to Someone

If you find that stress largely interferes with your life and does not seem manageable with these basic tips, consider talking to a trusted professional.

What stresses you out and what do you do to manage it? Share your thoughts in the comments below or by tweeting us, @MassGov.

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