Friday, February 27, 2015

Six Ways to Beat Chronic Stress

News Brief by Kanika Kamal
            Once the semester gets into full swing, it’s hard to avoid the stress piling up around you. Sometimes the amount of work we have can send us into a panic, making us scramble to meet deadlines and causing us to lose sleep (and sometimes even weight). Not only is chronic stress a nuisance, but it can also have detrimental health effects, such as increasing the chance of heart attacks.  So, how can students combat chronic stress? According to Science News, the following six things can help counteract the effects of stress:

1.     Yoga and Tai Chi: Thinking positive thoughts, clearing your mind, and focusing on your breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure and help unwind stress at both the molecular and clinical levels.

2.     Meditation: Meditation has been shown to help fight off infections, such as the cold and flu. For example, a recent study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that participants who practiced 2.5 hours of meditation a week took less sick days for respiratory illness than those who did not meditate.

3.     Real-Time Monitoring: Monitoring your stress levels, such as by carrying monitors that measure heart rates, can help make us more aware of the stress we face and can encourage us to take a couple minutes to breathe and cool down. A study at the University of Calgary had doctors, members of a high-stress profession, monitor their stress levels. They found that at the end of the four week period, the doctors’ stress levels had dropped substantially when compared to the control.

4.     Parenting Classes: Stress not only comes from your actions, but also from the environment around you. Studies have shown that giving parents training classes can help reduce stress in their children. These classes have created less harsh, more consistent parents, and as a result, has made it so that their children had lower levels of stress as they grew older.

5.     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an important part of treatment for people with anxiety and depression. It works by helping change their frames of thinking from negative to positive, giving them the skills to cope. But, CBT does not only benefit people with mental illness. Changing your framework of thinking from self-destructive to more positive can help people cope with stress and improve the body’s health. In fact, CBT has shown to boost the body’s immune response to viruses.

6.     Pets: Finally, everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friends, but studies have shown that these friendly companions can actually decrease stress in humans.

Following these six tips, or at least trying out a few, could lower your stress levels and help you lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. So, it’s worth a shot!

Seppa, Nathan. "Six Ways to Beat Chronic Stress." Science News. Science News, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. .
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