Stress occurs when we perceive that demands placed on us — such as work, society, school or relationships — exceed your ability to cope. Sometimes stress can be beneficial, providing a boost that produces the drive and energy to help people get through situations like exams, tedious situation, or work deadlines. However, an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences, cardiovascular, affecting the immune and neuroendocrine and central nervous systems, and give a severe emotional toll.

Untreated chronic stress may result in serious health conditions including insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, muscle pain, and a weakened immune system. Research shows that stress can result to contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as depression, headaches, heart disease, and obesity.

But by finding healthy positive ways to manage stress as it occurs, many of these negative health consequences can be reduced. Everyone has different ways that they choose to manage their stress, as everyone is different. Some people prefer pursuing hobbies such as creating art, gardening and playing music, while others find relief in more solitary activities: meditation, reading, walking and yoga.

Here are five healthy techniques that psychological research has shown to help reduces stress in the short and long-term.

Take a short break from the stressor: It may seem difficult to get away from a big work project, a growing credit card bill or a crying baby. But when we give ourselves permission to step away from it, we let our-self have time to do something else, which can help us have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to not avoid our stress (those bills have to be paid), but even just 20-minutes to take care for our-self is helpful.

Exercise: The research’s keep growing — exercise benefits our mind just as well as our body. We keep hearing about the long-term benefits of a regular exercise routine. But even a 20-minute dance, swim, run or walk session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that may last for several hours.

Try to Smile and laugh: Our brains are interconnected with our emotion and facial expression. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress on their face. So laughs or smiles can help us relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.

Get social support: Call a friend, whatsapp messenger, hike or send an email. When we share our concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve our stress. But it’s important that the person with whom we talk to is someone whom we trust and with whom we feel they can understand and validate us. If our family is a stressor, for example, it may not alleviate our stress if we share our works woes with one of them.

Meditate: Meditation and mindful prayer help the mind and body to relax our soul and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion, control, and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people are able to release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Like exercise, research has shown that even meditating can reap immediate benefits.

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