5 Steps to Reduce Stress

I don’t think there is a person alive on this planet who hasn’t suffered the heavy burden of stress at some point in their life. I am a great sufferer of stress. I let it keep me awake at night, it affects my digestions, my thoughts, my anxiety level and can steal happiness from a joyful moment.  That’s why I was so thrilled to see that Oprah had a section on her website that covered the issue of stress. It provides five solid tactics to help reduce stress. You can believe that I am going to begin incorporating all of these into my daily life.

The article states that, “on the most basic level, all emotions are experienced in the body.”

We might notice stress by how we feel emotionally or by what we are thinking, but there is also something happening physiologically in your body, too. How well we are taking care of our body will have a major impact on how we experience our stressful emotions. Just like our mothers always told us, we need to get enough sleep, we need to eat a balanced diet, we need to exercise regularly and we need to go to the doctor when we aren’t feeling well.

Here are the five steps to reducing stress:

1.) Sleep:

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces extra stress hormones, making you more vulnerable to stress. But too much sleep can also cause problems. The key is to get balanced sleep, which for most people means, on average, about eight hours a night.

2.) Diet:

Not eating enough can cause moodiness and irritability. And skipping breakfast is one fo the most common reasons for dips in blood sugar and midmorning crankiness.

3.) Exercise:

Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. Not only does exercise lead to greater muscle relaxation and increased production of antistress chemicals, research also shows that people who are physically fit exhibit less extreme physiological responses to stress. This means they are less likely to experience the health problems linked with chronic stress.

4.) A Focused Mind:

Multitasking—keeping a million balls in the air—this is the sign of a successful person, right? Wrong! Productivity and sense of well-being decrease when we have a scattered focus. In addition, when we are overburdened by details it is harder to be present in the moment, making it harder to connect with people and feel supported.

There are inherent rewards to having a single-minded focus. Our attention, sense of well-being, concentration, memory and productivity are all improved. Slowing down and taking in one thing at a time gives us the space we need to respond to stress, rather than merely reacting to it. We can use techniques such as meditation to cultivate this single-pointed focus.

The next time you realize that you are feeling scattered and overwhelmed, take a moment to just breathe and notice the sensation.

5.) A Healthy Body:

With our busy schedules, we often don’t take the time to attend to the regular maintenance of our bodies. Seeing your doctor and dentist for regular checkups is important. Taking time out from your schedule when you aren’t feeling well is another important self-care practice. All too often we push ourselves to keep going even when our body is telling us to sit still. When our bodies don’t feel well, we also are much more likely to feel bad emotionally.

{Information from Oprah.com}


  1. As women, we often feel that stress is imposed on us from outside — our lives, our culture, our children “make us stressed out.” We can really wrestle back control once we understand the power that WE have to limit our stress.

    It’s not so much about changing our externalities (though that helps, of course!), it’s about making choices about how we behave. It’s very hard to do, but once you’re conscious of your own power, you can wield it to good effect.

    Case in point: I am under deadline to write an OpEd piece this morning then have a five hour meeting, plus kids untended. But when I woke up today, I dressed in my running gear. Instead of sitting here, stressing about my deadline, I’m going to assume the piece will flow out of me, and I will be able to make time for my therapeutic, stress-relieving run!

    Wish me luck!
    co-author, Mothers Need Time Outs, Too

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