Stress affects everybody every day. For the most part, it provides the kick you need to get off your behind and get things done. Chronic stress is another ball game. Between the demands of work, home and your social life you can easily find yourself strung out and burned out in no time flat. Add those extra holiday commitments and end of the year deadlines to an already overblown schedule and you have a recipe for mayhem and madness. This week I’d like to share some tips that will help you beat stress and stay happy and healthy in the process!

First, identify your triggers, set boundaries and take control of your schedule. Take a few moments to write down what is stressing you. Read it out loud or verbalize your concerns with a close friend. Realize that dealing with heated conference calls or whining co-workers is only temporary. Take momentary breaks at work to focus on your breathing before engaging in a heated exchange. Don’t overextend yourself, especially during the holiday season ahead by going to every party you’re invited to – pick only social engagements that fit into your schedule and you’ll enjoy yourself more.

Second, learn to modify your response to stress. While some research shows that the stress response is, in part, shaped by your early childhood experiences, experts also say that you can learn to modify reactions to stress and replace them with healthy habits. Practice daily meditations. Light some candles, turn on soft soothing music and take a long hot bath. Avoid situations that bring out your irritable bitchy side, and foster simplicity, stability and serenity in your life.

Third, take time out for yourself. Massage therapy has been shown in countless studies to be an effective remedy for daily stress. Research among various groups of people who face a lot of daily strife, such as teachers, hospital workers and corporate executives, all conclude that regular massages help greatly to relieve tension and improve overall mood. If you’re not into touch therapy, why not take time out and attend a yoga class or pamper yourself with a facial or spa treatment.

Finally, the best way to beat stress is to get more active.  Physical activity, whether it’s a great workout in the gym, or a jaunty stroll in the park, is a fantastic stress buster. Plus, you’ll be amazed by how much better you’ll look and feel. In addition, exercise has an overall relaxing effect. Light to moderate aerobic activity such as power walking or cycling for 20-30 minutes for as little as 3 times a week may be all that you need to lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Anaerobic weight training can give you a dynamite pump as you take out your frustrations on the weights!

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Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and licensed massage therapist (MA40288) with his own one on one training studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com. Contact Tom with questions regarding fitness and nutrition trainertomb@aol.com or call to schedule a free fitness intake massage (954) 557-1119.