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We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one's grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense. This so-called "stress response" is a normal reaction to threatening situations, honed in our prehistory to help us survive threats like an animal attack or a flood. Today, we rarely face these physical dangers, but challenging situations in daily life can set off the stress response.

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We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them. One way is to invoke the "relaxation response," through a technique first developed in the s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Approaches for preventing and reducing stress.

The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It's a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.

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Work Life Balance

Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress. In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths also known as abdominal or belly breathing. As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations. Breath focus can be especially helpful for people with eating disorders to help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way. However, this technique may not be appropriate for those with health problems that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory ailments or heart failure.

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This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there. When we procrastinate, the task often grows in our minds until it seems insurmountable. So when you face a big project at work or home, start by dividing it into smaller tasks. Complete the first one before moving on to the next. If you feel overwhelmed by routines that seem unnecessary, tell your boss. The less time you spend doing busy work or procrastinating, the more time you can spend productively, or with friends or family.

If yo u ask , they might allow you to work flexible hours or from home a day a week.

Surviving year 12

Research shows that employees who work flexible schedules are more productive and loyal to their employers. Small breaks at work—or on any project—will help clear your head, and improve your ability to deal with stress and make good decisions when you jump back into the grind. Listen to your favorite music at work to foster concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and stimulate creativity.

Studies dating back more than 30 years show the benefits of music in everyday life, including lowered blood pressure. Be sure to wear headphones on the job, and then pump up the volume—and your productivity.

Crying relieves stress

In a tense situation, either rethink your strategy or stand your ground, calmly and rationally. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise. Retreat before you lose control, and allow time for all involved to cool off. Give yourself a break. Allow yourself to be human and just do the best you can. Don't over commi t.

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Do you feel stressed when you just glance at your calendar? Chatting with friends and family can be important to your success at home—or at work—and can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support.

Future proof your body: 17 things you need to do now to be healthy in later life

Many organizations offer resources through an EAP, which can save you precious time by providing guidance on issues like where to find a daycare center and caretaking for an elderly parent, as well as referrals to mental health and other services. Make time in your schedule for the gym or to take a walk during lunch—and have some fun! Treat your body right. Being in good shape physically increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick days.