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5 Ways to Reduce Stress by Improving Physical Health

We all know stress affects emotional and mental health, but often the symptoms of stress show up more noticeably in our physical health.

While stress affects everyone differently and to varying degrees, there are common telltale signs that someone is feeling pressure. Unmanaged stress can cause stomach pain and digestive complications; trouble regulating blood sugar, which increases risk of diabetes or obesity; high blood pressure and rapid heart rate; lowered immunity to illnesses; and chronic pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.

But you don’t have to let stress get a foothold on your life and health. It can be managed.

Learn more about stress management through the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Physical Health and Wellness program.

Developing and sticking to healthy habits can reduce stress, benefiting your body, mind, and emotions. By incorporating regular exercise, stretching, nutritious meals, and quality sleep in your routine, you can significantly decrease the impact of stress and improve overall wellness and resiliency.

Stress Awareness Month is a great time to start making some changes to improve your physical health and defend against stressors.

  • Get moving: Not only does exercise and movement release chemicals in the brain that help us feel better, exercising 150 minutes or more a week reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition to being good for our heart and lungs, movement loosens and soothes tense muscles and sore joints, reducing pain.
  • Eat the rainbow: Food is the primary fuel source for the body, but the foods we choose to eat when stressed can make us feel better or worse. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, which balance blood sugar, strengthen the immune system, and fuel body and mind throughout the day. Aim for a variety of colors in fruits and vegetables to get all essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Catch some ZZZs: Stress can cause fatigue or insomnia, but getting 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep can make a serious difference. A good night’s sleep helps restore energy and rebuilds cells throughout your body, including your brain! It also allows you to wake up to a better memory, attention span, and concentration. Some helpful tricks to quiet the mind include journaling, writing to-do lists for the next day, guided meditations, and breathing exercises.
  • Remember to breathe: Breaths tend to become shorter and more rapid as stress levels rise. This can cause an increase in anxiety and tension in the body. Take a few moments to sit upright, relax the shoulders, and focus on breathing exercises. Take a slow, deep breath by inhaling for three seconds, holding for three seconds, and exhaling for five seconds. Repeat that five times until you feel relaxed.
  • Hydrate and limit caffeine: It’s easy to reach for a cup of coffee or sugary soda when feeling tired and worn out from stress, but be mindful. These beverages offer little nutritional value and can cause blood sugar disruptions, leading to more fatigue, irritability, and restless sleep. Dehydration impairs brain functions like memory and attention, so grab some water, and each day, try to drink as many ounces as about half of your body weight in pounds. (For example, if half of your body weight equals 110 pounds, try drinking 110 ounces.)

For more ways to reduce stress through improving physical wellness, visit the WWP newsroom and search for “stress management,” and stay tuned into WWP’s social channels.

Contact: Vesta M. Anderson — Public Relations, vanderson@woundedwarriorproject.org, 904.570.0771

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.