Everyone in this country is stressed, only it happens to be part of our everyday life.  People are stressed because of work, family, the economy, love, personal appearance, television renewals or cancellations…even wondering whether or not Lindsay Lohan will serve more jail time and if that misunderstood rock star from Mars, Charlie Sheen, will ever come to his senses.  Fortunately for you, April happens to be Stress Awareness Month and this is the time for us to put these issues into full focus.  We really need to examine these problems with a fine-toothed comb to gain knowledge on how to deal with this stress before it starts to affect our health.

First, let’s go over the numbers.  According to experts, three out of five visits to the doctor’s office are stress-related.  Kinda stressful in itself, isn’t it?  62% of people are stressed out about their jobs.  Imagine for a moment how stressful it must be to actually work IN a doctor’s office.  And did you even stop to realize that two-thirds of the obscenities we use are directly related to stress?  I don’t know about you, but it seems like just about anything and everything we do can cause us to stress out.  But what are supposed to do, just eat a Snickers bar and act satisfied?

Actually, eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate in a two week period has shown a reduction in stress.  Granted, this study was conducted by Nestle, but still it’s a start and something we can look forward to.  At least you can tell your significant other not to nag you about eating chocolate.  All joking aside, stress is a serious problem and we should discuss some solid ways to reduce it.

I’m sure it seems as if you’ll never be able to avoid the stress in your life.  Maybe the bills are stacking up, you accepted a proposal before the beer goggles came off or your or your spouse had your name tattooed on their unmentionables out of some subliminal need to torture you.  Whatever it is, believe it or not, you can do something to control the level of your stress.  The first thing you need to do is take a minute, relax, breathe, and put everything into perspective.  Identify the things that are making you stressed in order to gain a better understanding of what’s going on.  Avoid zoning out to TV, drinking alcohol excessively, or taking pills to relax.  These practices are not doing anything except taking the stress away momentarily, but it will creep right back up on you.

Some easy things to do to relieve stress involve exercise.  Exercising at least 30 minutes a day is a great stress reliever, and it helps you to sweat out those negative vibes coursing through your veins.  Massages are great ways to relax and rid yourself of stress, too.  More often than not, we all put off taking a break and doing something for ourselves.  You need to stop making excuses like “I just have too much on my plate right now” and sit down and take a breather.  Also, get a bigger plate.  We need to realize that it’s OK to take a break; yes it is OK to do something for you!  It’s your health and you need to do what is necessary to stay healthy.

Laughter is a sure-fire way of dealing with stress.  I don’t care what anyone says, if you’re laughing…you’re not feeling stressed or upset.  Get out and be a kid again!  No matter how old you get, we’re always going to be kids at heart.  The idea of just going out to play may sound ridiculous, but it’s a great way to relieve your stress-related issues. So try something new this week.  Go out and play a pick-up game of basketball, go dancing or even play a game of laser tag! Also, try and eat breakfast every morning.  I know you remember your mom telling you “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  This is very true; in fact, a recent study highlighted people who happened to live past the age of 100. They all stated that they were regular breakfast eaters.  So, tomorrow morning, make sure you get yourself some flapjacks and eggs before you start the day.

There are numerous things you can do to relieve yourself of stress, but the biggest thing you should take from this is you need to relax and take some time for yourself.  These are stressful times we are living in today and sometimes we let those issues take over our lives.  We need to plan for the problems in the future and deal with the problems we have in the present.  But, more than anything, love everyday you have in this world, laugh as much as you can and make sure you take some time for yourself.   Life is way too short to always be stressed about the little things in life. As for me, I’m planning on watching the movie Sharktopus tonight and I guarantee I’ll be laughing the stress away in no time!

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