reviewed 9/11/2018

Stress relief: True or false?

In short bursts, stress can be positive. It can help you meet deadlines or avoid danger. But if it lasts too long—and your body stays on high alert—stress can raise your risk of serious health problems, from heart to disease to depression. Do you know how to tame tension? Test your knowledge.

True or false: Exercise is a good way to burn off excess stress.

True. It's a great way to release pent-up energy and tension. And just 30 minutes each day of gentle walking can also help boost your mood and ease stress too. When you're active, your body releases chemicals that help you feel good.

True or false: Most stress-relief techniques require a lot of time and practice.

False. Calming down can be as easy as breathing deeply, taking a break from your work to do something you enjoy or tackling one task at a time when you've got a long to-do list. Surprisingly simple steps can help you feel less stressed—and more in control.

True or false: Talking about the stress you're under only amplifies it.

False. A sympathetic friend or loved one can provide important emotional support and even guidance. And if stress is making it hard to function, reaching out to a mental health professional can also be extremely helpful. Counseling can help you make a plan to ease stress—and feel like yourself again.

True or false: Only major stress symptoms require attention.

False. Even seemingly minor ones—like a headache or an upset stomach—shouldn't be shrugged off. These are early warning signs that a situation is getting out of hand.

True or false: Simple physical exercises can help calm your thoughts and ease tension.

True. A technique called progressive relaxation is one method. Start with one muscle. Hold it tight for a few seconds and then release it. Do this with all your muscles, one muscle group at a time. Begin with your toes and feet, and work your way through the rest of your body.

No matter what's causing your stress, there are things you can do to feel less on edge. Visit our topic center for more information, including helpful tips for caregivers and working moms.

Stress and Anxiety topic center

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Psychological Association; National Institutes of Health

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