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Yoga classStress is a part of everyday life. But for some people, it can interfere with daily activities and, in turn, affect overall health. To combat that, there are several stress management activities you can do to drastically improve your sense of well-being. Here are five simple activities you can do when you're feeling particularly anxious:

  1. Play. Play is an important part of growing up, teaching us how to use our imaginations, work well with others, and just have fun. As individuals age, we need to relearn these fundamentals, which can help reduce stress hormones. Play is a state of mind and can include anything from taking a class to walking your dog to playing catch.
  2. Adopt a pet. This may sound like a stress-inducing activity, but studies show that owning a pet can have serious health benefits. Pets can provide companionship, lower blood pressure rates and release "feel good" hormones in the body. It's no wonder that several facilities (workplaces, hospitals, and nursing homes) have integrated dog therapy as stress relief initiatives.
  3. Listen to music. Researchers from Stanford University have found that rhythmic music may change brain function and can help pain management, depression and anxiety, and boost immunity. By using the right music, you can potentially lower your blood pressure, relax your body and quiet your mind.
  4. Get a massage. Many people carry stress in their neck and shoulders; the pressure from massage helps relieve this tension and pain, improving quality of life. Moreover, research has uncovered that certain types of massage have been shown to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body.
  5. Practice yoga. Yoga is a mind and body practice that involves a combination of physical poses, purposeful breathing and focused meditation. By practicing yoga, you are able to focus your attention inward, release tension while, at the same time, energize the body.

In addition to these stress management activities, it's important to maintain a heart-healthy diet and continue regular exercise to help lower stress-inducing hormones. If you find these activities aren't helping or that your stress is getting worse, please consult your physician.

Any information and advice is given on a generalized, generic basis, and is not specific to any individual patient's condition. Use of this material is helpful in making you informed about health care issues and cannot replace a health professional-patient relationship. You should always consult with a professional for diagnosis and treatment of any specific health problems. You should not disregard any advice or treatment plan from your health professional based on your interpretation of what you may read in this material.

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