How to Handle Stress | Reader's Digest

How to Handle Stress

43% of us suffer adverse health effects due to stress. Here are four expert solutions.

By Michael F. Roizen | MD from Reader's Digest | April 2007

The Osteopathic Physician. After making sure you have no serious medical problems, we might try osteopathic manipulation, a technique similar to chiropractic that can help relieve stress and the pain that often accompanies it. In the muscle-energy technique, the doctor guides you through contracting and relaxing different muscles to ease tension. In cranial osteopathy, the doctor manipulates the skull structures to relax the body.
– Gary Ostrow, DO, New York, New York

The Nutritionist. The most important thing is to get enough sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, stress is magnified and you feel it more. Aim for six to eight hours a night. Find time to exercise, as the endorphins you release during a workout can counter your stress hormones. Foods with tryptophan (turkey, dairy, soy products) can be calming too.
– Lisa Derosimo, MD, Owner, The Weight and Wellness Center, Jupiter, Florida

The Massage Therapist. Just being touched reduces tension, but massage also increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which helps lower blood pressure and slow your breathing, easing stress. Swedish massage is the most calming, but you can get some of the same results with a hand or foot massage or a back rub from a loved one.
– Patti Darragh, Owner, RejuvinEssence Day Spa, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

The Meditation Coach. You don’t have to dedicate a huge chunk of time to meditation. You can get stress relief with just ten deep breaths. To do it, sit down in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe in slowly. Picture the air coming in through your nose and circling to the back of your throat. Exhale through your nose. This practice slows down and relaxes your nervous system. Slowly progress up to 20 minutes a day, if you can.
– Kathy Freston, Los Angeles

Bottom Line
The keys to managing stress are understanding the cause and adjusting your physical response. Keep a diary of daily events that frustrate you. Analyze the common thread and challenge the underlying beliefs that cause your responses. Instead of exploding at a co-worker, find a physical outlet for stress, such as walking, stretching, deep breathing.