To Your Health: Make the time to address your stress

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A relaxing massage is one way to help you de-stress. Make sure to make time in your life to handle stress in healthy ways.

Let’s face it, modern humans are pretty stressed out.

And workplace factors – from heavy workloads to mean bosses – are a major culprit.

Eight in 10 Americans report being stressed out about their jobs, according to the 2013 Work Stress Survey.

Worse, stress levels are higher than in decades past, and can take a toll on everything from your health to family relationships.

Plus, work isn’t the only thing causing us heartburn. Americans also report stressing about money, family responsibilities, and the economy, according to the American Psychological Association.

In a 2012 survey, the APA found that one in five Americans report they are regularly under extreme stress.

Most Americans said their stress levels were higher than what they considered healthy. The average stress level for those in the survey was a 4.9 on a 10-point scale, where 1 means “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress.

Only 17 percent of those with high stress say they are doing a good job of managing it. Many of those surveyed said they deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as overeating or eating unhealthy foods, or skipping meals.

But there are ways to handle stress in healthy ways. Here are some tips:

>> Give yourself positive self-talks. Tell yourself, “I can do this” or “Things will work out.” Clear your head of negative self-talk that increases stress.

>> Identify “emergency stress stoppers” that work for you. Things like counting to 10 before you speak, taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk or breaking down big problems into smaller parts.

>> Find some pleasure in your life, especially when stress gets bad. Take up a hobby, have a meal or day out with friends, participate in an activity, or treat yourself to a relaxing massage.

>> Be sure to give yourself time every day for daily relaxation. That doesn’t mean watching your favorite TV show. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm your mental and physical tension. Take up yoga, tai chi or meditation. Or make it simple: Relax with deep breathing exercises for 10 minutes.

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