Did you know...there are many healthy ways to handle your stress?

Life is full of many stressful situations, few of which we have control over. Feeling "stressed" is the body and mind's way of telling us to stay balanced and relaxed as we deal with life's changes and challenges. The ways we handle our stress are very important to our overall health because too much stress can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, asthma, heart attacks, strokes, loss of memory and cognitive functioning, and premature aging. 

Here are a few unhealthy ways people often handle stress:

Smoking and/or drinking
Over-eating or under-eating
Staying away from friends and family
Taking stress out on others through anger and violence

Now, instead of using one or some of those ways of dealing with your stress, try one of these healthy methods when you are stressed instead:

Learn how to kindly say NO to others and know your limits
Separate out the tasks that you MUST do from those that are less important and make a solid plan to get organized, that way you are not overwhelmed
Maintain a hobby such as journaling, painting, drawing, singing, listening to music, playing a musical instrument, being a collector, or learning another language
Reach out to family and friends on a regular basis
Live a healthier lifestyle

     Cut down on sugar, salt and caffeine: See how New York is doing its part with the Salt Initiative.

     Engage in deep breathing exercises. Tai Chi and Qigong are great stress relievers that combine deep breathing and movement, see our Harlem Word on the art of Tai Chi.

      Be active at least 30 minutes each day. For example, take a walk with a friend or do a mix of morning stretches. The Shape Up NYC program offers free fitness classes to the public throughout the 5 boroughs - find a class nearest to you!

     Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night - the amount needs is different for everyone, so figure out what YOUR body needs to stay alert all day. Take the sleepiness quiz to see where you stand!



Did you know? is a series of health articles written by HHPC and approved by our Health Advisory Board.


Having a career or going to school full time is already a handful for most of us. However, life has a tendency to throw us unexpected curve balls that can easily increase our daily stress. I’ve coped with stress the unhealthy way by over eating and staying up late so that I’m not getting enough rest. This in turn resulted in weight gain which then resulted in more stress in addition to depression and lack of energy. Things didn’t turn around for me until I started opening up to those who cared about me. Initially, I thought that sharing my troubles would burden others but soon realized that I was completely wrong! The more I opened up, the better I felt because the sense of isolation was taken away by the love and support from friends and family. For example, my friends enrolled me into a half-marathon race with them, which forced me to practice running and gave me an avenue to release stress and build a strong mind and body. By having emotional support from friends and getting physical exercise, I was able to cope with stress in a healthy way.

Everybody experiences stress at some point in life. Whether stressed about school, a job, or money issues, life can be very stressful. Last year, a good friend of mine became sick with cancer and I was having a hard time balancing this with my own life, which consisted of school and a part-time job. At first, I had a very hard time dealing with my stress. I couldn’t sleep at night; I would toss and turn, worrying about my friend. I lost my appetite and dropped a lot of weight. The people in my life became very concerned and made me understand that I was not dealing with the situation properly. They made me realize that between running to the hospital from school and work, I really did not set aside any time for myself. I quickly learned that it is all right to ask for help from others and that nobody is a superhero. I made sure to put aside my own time and used this time to go to the gym, which really lifted my spirits. Accepting help from others, setting aside time for myself, and being active allowed me to deal with my stress in a healthy way.

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