Taking Control: Healthy Ways to Handle Stress and Love Life Again

When you’re caught up in a daily cycle of stress and anxiety, you may feel as though there’s no end in sight. Many people who feel defeated by stress reach for medication or alcohol to try and escape the torture. The problem with this type of self-medication is that it can lead to addiction, which brings with it a whole new set of problems.

Stress is linked to each of the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. That’s an impressive line-up but you can beat stress and it could be one of the most important things you ever do in your life. If you are suffering from stress or an anxiety disorder and want to eliminate this tension from your life, read on for some tips to help you. If you are having problems with an addiction and you need advice, dedicated professionals at Clearbrook Treatment Centers can help.

Understanding Stress

Contrary to what you may think, not all stress is harmful to the health. There are two main types of stress. Eustress is a positive energy that gives you the drive to accomplish things. In moderate amounts, this kind of stress can energize you and give you a good buzz. It can also elevate your mood and boost your immune system.

Distress is the negative factor that you need to watch out for. If this starts to build up it will begin to adversely affect your health. It can ultimately lead to debilitating or fatal diseases including the six leading causes of death – cancer, heart disease, lung disease, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. There are a number of common signs and symptoms that will indicate if your level of stress is high. These include:

  • Tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Recurrent headaches in the back and top of the head
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • Teeth grinding
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Depression

How to Keep Bad Stress at Bay

  • Try not to become too focused on timekeeping and schedules. When you’re planning activities ahead, avoid planning them too far in advance. Give yourself some leeway for flexibility in case something comes up and you need to reschedule and you don’t panic when plans have to change.
  • Cut out stress triggers at work like poor and unhealthy lighting, annoying noise levels, and uncomfortable temperatures. Rearrange your office, add full spectrum lighting and some plants to create a more ambient atmosphere.
  • Always make time for proper meals, take the time to sit down and eat slowly. Avoid eating while on the go or while working at your desk. Don’t wait too long between meals.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep each night. If you are troubled by insomnia don’t lie in bed tossing and turning. Get out of bed and sit in the living room with a book for a while, that way you won’t begin to associate insomnia with your bed.
  • Don’t let your children wear you down. Hire a babysitter and take a night off now and again without feeling guilty about it. It will help you recharge your parenting batteries.
  • Don’t overburden yourself at work. Manage your time wisely and avoid taking on more than you can chew this will only lead to panic when you haven’t completed everything by the end of the week.
  • Don’t let friends and family make too many demands on your time. Explain to them that you are there for them, but you also need some time to yourself now and again.
  • Get plenty of physical exercise. Even a brisk twenty-minute walk 3-4 times each week will make a difference to your stress levels.
  • Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to relax. Take time out from stress. Enjoy a hot soak in the bath or treat yourself to a massage from time to time so that negative stress won’t build up and get a head start on you.
  • Learn some simple relaxation techniques such as basic breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation. Take the time to use them when you notice you are feeling some of the first signs of distress.


Support is very important if you suffer from stress or an anxiety disorder. It can prevent you from feeling isolated and is a valuable part of the recovery process. If you are having difficulty finding a support group near you, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America will be able to help you with your search.

Samantha Baker works as a therapist. She shares her insights with a wide online audience, her articles appearing on self-help, wellness and lifestyle blogs.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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