Stress is not something easily defined. That’s because what is stressful to one person may roll off of another’s back. Various situations can trigger emotional responses in people. Very often these responses can escalate into stress that affects blood pressure, anxiety levels, mood, sleep patterns, and eating habits.
The American Institute of Stress lists 50 different common signs and symptoms of stress. A few of those symptoms include:
- frequent headaches
- grinding teeth
- neck ache
- back pain
- obsessive behavior
- overreaction to small annoyances
- increased anger or frustration
- rapid or mumbled speech
- social withdrawal
- excessive gambling or impulse buying
- chest pain and palpitations
- excessive anxiety or worry
Reducing stress has become a priority for many people looking to avoid health problems. There are many strategies people can take. Here’s a look at five of them.
- Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): A person starts from the face and works down the body by tensing all of the muscles in specifi c areas while inhaling and holding breath. Then he or she relaxes the muscles while exhaling.
- Guided imagery: With the help of a recording or one’s own imagination, a person pictures a relaxing scene with a possible guide answering profound questions.
- Laughter: Laughing reduces the level of stress hormones, like epinephrine, dopamine, cortisol and others. It also increases endorphins. Laughter is a good distraction and also a mild workout. It contracts the ab muscles and works out the shoulders.
- Music: Music can be used in many ways to reduce stress. Soft, peaceful music may help induce meditation and imagery. Upbeat music can get a person dancing, where the physical activity loosens muscles and relieves stress.
- Sex: Sex can boost mood, reduce blood pressure, promote relaxation through touch and provide a physical workout. All of these factors are good for reducing stress.