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Fight Stress with Healthy Habits

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop. Talk with family and friends. A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or writer friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs. Engage in daily physical activity. Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day. Embrace the things you are able to change. While we may not be able to do some of the things we once enjoyed, we are never too old to learn a new skill, work toward a goal, or love and help others. Remember to laugh. Laughter makes us feel good. Don't be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when we're alone. Give up the bad habits. Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Slow down. Try to "pace" instead of "race." Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush. Get enough sleep. Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can't sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep and life in general. Get organized. Use "to do" lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer. Practice giving back. Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you. Try not to worry. The world won't end if your grass isn't mowed or your kitchen isn't cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.

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Four Ways to Deal with Stress

Here are four simple techniques for managing stress: Positive Self-Talk Self-talk is one way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes we talk out loud but usually we keep self-talk in our heads. Self-talk can be positive ("I can do this" or "Things will work out") or negative ("I'll never get well" or "I'm so stupid"). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk helps you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. For example: Negative Positive "I can't do this." "I'll do the best I can." "Everything is going wrong." "I can handle things if I take one step at a time." "I hate it when this happens." "I know how to deal with this; I've done it before." To help you feel better, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. Having trouble getting started? Try positive statements such as these: "I've got this." "I can get help if I need it." "We can work it out." "I won't let this problem get me down." "Things could be worse." "I'm human, and we all make mistakes." "Some day I'll laugh about this." "I can deal with this situation." Remember: Positive self-talk helps you relieve stress and deal with the situations that cause you stress. Emergency Stress Stoppers There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road and in public places. We may feel stress because of poor communication, too much work and everyday hassles like standing in line. Emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot. Try these emergency stress stoppers. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them. Count to 10 before you speak. Take three to five deep breaths. Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you'll handle it later. Go for a walk. Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry" if you make a mistake. Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late. Break down big problems into smaller parts. For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once. Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving. Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor. Consider meditation or prayer to break the negative cycle. Finding Pleasure When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress. You don't have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you're ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend or reading a good book. Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes. Such as: Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint with grandchildren). Take up a hobby, new or old. Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper. Have coffee or a meal with friends. Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl. Sew, knit or crochet. Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation. Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers. Make a list of everything you still want to do in life. Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video. Take a class at your local college. Play cards or board games with family and friends. Daily Relaxation Relaxation is more than sitting in your favorite chair watching TV. To relieve stress, relaxation should calm the tension in your mind and body. Some good forms of relaxation are yoga, tai chi (a series of slow, graceful movements) and meditation. Like most skills, relaxation takes practice. Many people join a class to learn and practice relaxation skills. Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can learn and practice at home using the following steps. It's a good skill to practice as you start or end your day. With daily practice, you will soon be able to use this skill whenever you feel stress. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap or lie down. Close your eyes. Picture yourself in a peaceful place. Perhaps you're lying on the beach, walking in the mountains or floating in the clouds. Hold this scene in your mind. Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply. Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more. Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for deep breathing or another form of relaxation.

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About

Dr. Streich earned her M.A. degrees and Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology from Adelphi University, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies. She completed her doctoral training in Clinical and Neuropsychology at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center in Manhattan. Subsequent to her clinical residency, Dr. Streich completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at a private practice in New York. Dr. Streich was most recently the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at a local university for seven years and also taught undergraduate classes in Psychology. Prior to that appointment, she managed the Outpatient Substance Abuse Programs for adults and adolescents at CarePoint Health in Hoboken. Dr. Streich has done extensive work providing management on employee performance and behavior and executive coaching through her work in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC). During her doctoral training, Dr. Streich was appointed the position of World Trade Center Coordinator in Northern New Jersey and worked in this role for five years. During that time, she managed the September 11th project, Project Phoenix, funded by SAMHSA & FEMA. Dr. Streich provided trainings in Crisis Management to emergency responders in Hudson County and outpatient services to the Northern Hudson County community. Prior to becoming a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Streich worked in the advertising business for ten years and her undergraduate degrees are in Advertising Communications (Associate of Applied Science) and Marketing Communications (Bachelor of Science). During that time, she worked for Mediavest, Media Planning & Buying Division of DMB&B, formerly known as Benton & Bowles. In that role, Dr. Streich directed the test marketing division for Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Burger King Corp. Dr. Streich has many years of experience in the corporate world. Dr Streich proudly serves our Veterans wtihin the tri-state area and administers compensation and pension evaluations for those who have suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, psychiatric and mood disorders, and, traumatic brain injuries. Clinical interests include trauma, post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety and depression, affective disorders, substance related issues, learning disabilities, relationship and interpersonal issues, disease management and couples and family counseling. Dr. Streich is a board member of the Professional Advisory Board for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. Dr. Streich is licensed in the states of New Jersey (#4852) and New York (#019068).

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