Crunch Time: 5 Ways to Power Through Stress

From the WebMD Archives

All of us have to deal with stress on a day-to-day basis. What matters is how you handle it.

Some guys have all the right moves, don't they? Their troubles melt away like ice on a hot summer’s day.

If you want to be one of them, use these five tips to put stress in its place.

1. Learn your warning signals and take action.

Know when you're about to snap. Are you more irritable than usual? Figure out what sets you off.

When you feel the steam rising, leave the scene before you say or do something you’ll regret. Think of it as a "breathing break." Take a 10-minute walk and plenty of deep breaths, says Raul Seballos, MD, a preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Health Program.

2. Do a quick reality check.

It’s not the number of hassles that does you in. It’s how big a deal you think they are, says Carolyn Aldwin, director of the Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University.

Learn to take things in stride, she says. Ditch that sky-is-falling outlook.

"Most of the things we worry about are not going to happen," says Terri Wall, PhD, behavioral sciences coordinator at St. Vincent's Family Medicine in Florida.

It could help to get out of your own head for a while. Men under pressure tend to isolate themselves, Wall says. That makes it worse. Call a buddy and talk about the game. At the office? Chat with a colleague for a few minutes.

3. Listen.

This is a lifesaver when your spouse, partner, or colleague complains about something. Guys are inclined to be "fixers," but you don't have to make it all better. Sometimes the other person just wants to talk about it. It shows them respect when you let them do that.

4. Putter around the house.

Leave work at the door and stay off the couch.

"Family time lowers stress," says Denver psychologist Rich Driscoll, PhD. "Kick a soccer ball around with your kid or fix the water faucet. Your day will be richer for it.”

Continued

5. Take care of yourself.

Get regular health checkups, eat healthy food, don’t smoke, and try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

If you don’t check it, stress can make you more likely to have a heart attack, get high blood pressure, and become depressed. You could have trouble fighting off an infection. Plus some men drink more alcohol, gamble, and eat worse when they’re stressed. All that can add up to some pretty big problems.

To hold them off, you need to find a healthy release valve. Many guys find that playing sports or working out zaps their stress. Even 10 minutes helps. "Exercise is the best Prozac out there," Seballos says. He plays basketball twice a week to beat stress and stay fit.

"It's never too late to start making lifestyle changes. What you do now will pay off in the next 5-10 years," he says.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD on June 4, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “Stress and Gender.”

Raul Seballos, MD, vice chairman of preventive medicine, Cleveland Clinic Executive Health Program.

Terri Wall, PhD, coordinator of behavioral sciences, St. Vincent's Family Medicine Residency, Jacksonville, FL.

Carolyn Aldwin, director, Center for Healthy Aging Research, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Rich Driscoll, PhD, psychologist, Denver. Co-author, Would You Meet My Halfway? Conflict Resolution Between Men and Women. Frontiers Press, February 2009.

CDC: “Tips for a Safe and Healthy Life.”

National Sleep Foundation: "How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?"

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