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How to Reduce Stress

Lifestyle and Health Improvement Strategies

Wow! The past few weeks have been filled with people looking for alternative solutions to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and dependence on medication. Hearing these complaints again and again, makes me reconsider the pressures we place on ourselves. I read a quote the other day from journalist Ellen Goodman, who wrote, “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” Sound familiar? Does that resemble anyone you know?

I’m not suggesting that any of this is trivial. That is, we all need to work and feel a purpose in our lives, and then feel rewarded for our efforts… thus, the car, house, clothes, etc. However, what price are we putting on these rewards? I would venture to say that the price is far higher than the sticker price we pay. Check out this article, “21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own.” It includes a list of statistics regarding the vast amounts of responsibility of we place on ourselves. Again, I’m not suggesting a minimalist culture, but just look at these stats! Wow!

Why do we do this to ourselves?

This never ending pursuit of “happiness” is resulting in a continual need to pursue; which is taking its toll on our emotional and physical health. I wrote a blog post in February about how acupuncture can help reduce stress. Please feel free to read and comment on that post, and certainly try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise…it works!

However, this week’s post isn’t about treatment. This is about the need for awareness of ourselves, our priorities, and the stressors around us, which we enable. Everyday I see people who are stressed out, doing all they can to support their family and lifestyle, dreaming of the day they get to relax. Why wait? Let’s take some responsibility here and realize that we should not be medicating ourselves in order to deal with the life we have created. That’s crazy! Here are…

3 Quick Methods to Cope with a Stressful Lifestyle:

  • Visualize instead of dream.
  • Plan instead of hope.
  • Create instead of consume.

Taking action toward your goals will reduce more stress and lead to healthier minds and bodies.

Take a Break: Leave your phones, laptops and tablets at home!

Finally, it is imperative to truly take rest as well. Authentic vacations have essentially disappeared in the U.S. due to increased dependence on technology and access to work and email via phones, laptops and tablets. Leave it at home and take a break. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed and productive you become after breaking free from the anxiety those attachments create.

Oh, and remember to breathe. Here you go. Try the 4-7-8 method… do this 3 times right now, it takes only one minute.

4-7-8 Method (Do this 3 Times)

  • Breathe in through your nose 1…2…3…4;
  • Hold your breath 1…2…3…4…5…6…7;
  • Breathe out through your mouth 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8
  • Repeat 2 more times.

Feel better?

Dr. Ryan Lombardo, DAOM, BCIM, RH, ABAAHP
Lifelong enthusiasm for wellness and lifestyle medicine led Dr. Lombardo’s integrative healthcare practice to include both Eastern and Western medical modalities. Read full bio.

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595 Elm Place, Suite 208
Highland Park, IL 60035