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Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life

by the Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #10, March 21st, 2006

From Safety Educator Monica Zech

With a busy schedule "stress" is sometimes hard to avoid...especially
behind the wheel. For some us, stress is a daily part of our lives. In
the news, stress has been implicated as a possible cause of-or at least
adding to some of the symptoms of a variety of health issues, such as;
heart disease, stroke, immune disorders, gastrointestinal problems like
irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, eating
problems, diabetes, sleep disturbances, and sexual reproduction
dysfunction. The latest research says stress increases our cholesterol
levels and may even shrink the brain contributing to memory
loss..."Where did I put my car keys?" So obviously, learning to reduce
your stress levels can help you live happier, healthier, and maybe even
longer lives. It would also reduce the number of road rage incidents
seen on our roadways. In fact, according to the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, two out of three serious injury-fatal
crashes you hear about in the news, are a direct result of "road rage."

To offer you some help, take a moment to read the following advice
from the National Mental Health Association, offering tips for reducing
or controlling your everyday stress levels:

Be realistic - Don't take on everything; learn to say no. Set realistic
goals for yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try eliminating an
activity that is not absolutely necessary. Ask yourself, "What really
needs to be done? Is the deadline realistic?" No one is perfect, so do
not expect perfection from yourself or others. And ask for help if you
need it.

Meditate - It only takes about 10-20 minutes to get a benefit from
meditating. These few moments of quiet reflection may bring relief from
stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. And it is simple to do:
sit quietly, listen to peaceful music, relax, and try and think of
pleasant things or think of nothing.

Visualize - Take a moment to picture how you can manage a stressful
situation more calmly and successfully. This can work with just about
anything, whether it is an important presentation at work or moving to a
new place or taking an exam. A visual rehearsal can boost
self-confidence and help you have a more positive attitude toward a
difficult task.

Take one thing at a time - When you start to feel overwhelmed, try
taking one task at a time. Make a list of things you need to do. Put the
most urgent task at the top. Once you have accomplished it, cross it off
and move on to the next one. The positive feeling of crossing things off
can help keep you motivated.

Exercise - (A great way to relieve stress) - Regular exercise is a
great way to reduce stress, and it benefits the body as well as the
mind. Just 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day can do the trick.
Much better then drinking an alcoholic beverage. Also setting a better
example for your children.

Get involved in hobbies - Take a break from the stressors of life and
do something you really enjoy. Try gardening, painting, or reading.
Schedule time to indulge your interests.

Practice a healthful lifestyle - Eating healthfully will make a
difference. Avoiding things like smoking, excessive alcohol, and
caffeine will help as well. Make sure you get adequate rest and
exercise, and that you balance work and play.

Share your feelings - Talking about things can help you feel better. A
conversation with someone can help you relax. And listening to someone
else can take the focus off of yourself-something we all need to do
every now and then. Stay in touch with your family and friends; don't
try to cope alone.

Give in occasionally - You don't always have to be right. Be flexible.
Be willing to compromise. If you do, others may meet you halfway. If you
know you are right, stand your ground. But be calm and rational. And
listen and make allowances for other's opinions.

Go easy with criticism - When you expect too much from yourself or
others, you may end up feeling frustrated, let down, and disappointed.
Remember that each person is unique and everyone, including yourself,
has shortcomings. But each person also has many beautiful qualities to
share with the world.

*For additional resources in reducing the stress in your life please
visit the National Institute of Mental Health
website available at: http://www.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/41.cfm.

I also provide safety lectures in dealing with the stress and road rage
issues in driving for your group or company. For information or to
schedule a talk, contact me at (619) 441-1737 or email your request to
mzech@ci.el-cajon.ca.us . - Monica Zech, Safety Educator for the City
of El Cajon.

From Safety Educator Monica Zech, City of El Cajon, Police & Fire

For more safety information please visit our web site at El Cajon Fire.com

* Monica Zech is the Public Information Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please visit El Cajon Fire.com In community work, Zech is the President on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA. In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout the county. Email mzech@ci.el-cajon.ca.us and visit Zech's Web Site ,or Monica Zech at (619) 441-1737.

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