Morningside General Practice Clinic
Six ways to reduce stress1 Identify your triggers. Try to work out what is making you tense and make a plan to deal with it. For example if a relationship is creating stress, try to resolve your conflicts or get some counselling.
2 Be more assertive. If you are too passive, you may become resentful and feel others are taking advantage of you. Assertiveness training can help you express your needs without offending others. You can learn to say no without feeling guilty!
3 Don’t bottle up your feelings. Speak to a family member or close friend about your problems. Simply talking about a problem is often the first step in solving it. Your doctor is also there to listen and help.
4 Practise a relaxation method. Progressive muscular relaxation is popular (see below) as are meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and Tai Chi. Reading and listening to music are calming. Find a technique that works for you and use it regularly.
5 Do some regular exercise. Exercise reduces anxiety and improves health and wellbeing. Walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, gardening and dancing are ideal. Exercise for half an hour or more each day.
6 Cut down on alcohol, smoking and other drugs. These provide temporary relief only and can lead to dependence and long term problems. They don’t alter the underlying cause of the stress
Progressive Muscular Relaxation
This is a popular relaxation strategy. Practise it initially for 20 minutes twice daily.
1. Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room. Close your eyes and breathe slowly for a couple of minutes, saying ‘relax’ to yourself each time you breathe out.
2. Clench your hands into fists for 5 seconds and notice the tension in the muscles. Then relax your hands for several breaths, concentrating on how it feels as the tension is released. Continue to say ‘relax’ as you breathe out.
3. Now repeat step 2 for each part of your body in turn, tightening the muscles and then relaxing: Lower arms – upper arms – shoulders – neck – forehead and scalp – eyes – jaw – chest – stomach – back – buttocks – thighs – calves – feet.
4. When finished, think about something relaxing, perhaps lying on the beach.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
Source: Spring 1998 edition of Your Health Newsletter