Finding ways to relax in a stress-filled world

If the current economic situation were compared to the weather, it would be a blizzard. Between a tanking economy, millions of home foreclosures, dwindling retirement savings, and the upcoming holiday season, many Americans are reeling from the financial strain. In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association that asked people to rank causes of stress, 80 percent of Americans put money and the economy right at the top of the list.

The American Medical Association reports that stress can cause depression, fatigue, impair heart function, raise blood pressure, and weaken your immune system. According to Tom Bergmann, Doctor of Chiropractic and a professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, many patient complaints such as headaches, digestive troubles and general aches and pains are brought on by stress.

While you can’t always remove stress from your life completely, taking steps to manage your reaction to the stress may mean the difference between surviving and thriving. The mind and body are connected, Bergmann says and stress triggers a number of negative responses in your mind and body that can have a snowball effect.

These tips from the American Psychological Association can help you cope during financially tough times:
• Pause, but don’t panic. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype.
• Know where your finances stand. Take stock of your finances, identify the stressors, and create a plan. Putting things on paper and committing to a plan can reduce stress.
• Cut expenses where possible.
• Be practical. Think twice before making extravagant purchases.
• Seek professional help. Get advice from a credit counseling service or financial planner to help you take control over your money situation.

The key to coping with everyday stress, says Bergmann, is to learn to quiet your mind, and exercise the mind, body, spirit connection. “It takes practice,” he says. “But I believe that if people make this a priority they will feel better, make better decisions, and be better able to adapt to what happens around them.” 

Bergmann suggests these stress management tips:
• Take a few moments to yourself each day to practice meditation techniques or simply sit quietly alone.
• Quiet your mind and focus on something positive to help clear mental clutter.
• Exercise daily to help expel the chemicals produced by stress.
• Breathe deeply.
• Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.

Don’t let stress get the best of you. By managing your stress you can safeguard your emotional and physical well-being as you ride out the storm.

For additional resources, visit http://www.nwhealth.edu/nns. a Web site focusing on natural approaches to health and wellness hosted by Northwestern Health Sciences University.

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