3 Tips to combat stress

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PHOENIX – While many Americans are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, others are outraged that a death – even the death of a terrorist – should spark such jubilation. Many are concerned about the possibility of retaliation. Still others are finding themselves struggling with memories of the 9/11 terror attacks bin Laden masterminded.

Stress specialist Dr. Jeff Donahue sat down with Tara Hitchcock Tuesday morning to discuss the myriad of ways in which bin Laden’s death and the wall-to-wall media coverage can affect people.

According to Donahue, the stress many people may be feeling can trigger physical reactions that can range from mild to quite severe.

“The memories of an event can actually create almost the same amount of stress as when it happened in the first place,” he said.

“If that stress is excessive, it’s going to show up in our bodies as physical symptoms or possibly even illnesses or damage.” Donahue said there are several techniques you can practice when you start to feel stress take over.

First and foremost, Donahue said, is breathing.

“Deep-breathing techniques increase our oxygen and help our bodies relax more,” he explained.

Exercise and movement are a close second to breathing. Exercise like yoga goes a long way in helping to dissipate the tension that can build up in our muscles because of stress.

Drinking plenty of water is essential.

“Stress causes a chemical reaction in our bodies and we need the water to flush those chemicals from our systems,” Donahue explained.

While many people might think they’re too busy to practice any kind of relaxation techniques, Donahue said it’s important to prioritize our lives. Incorporating such methods can make a big difference in how you handle stress.

“The reality is if you don’t have time to do these kinds of things, you’re going to be stressed,” Donahue said. “You actually have to make that time.”

With the continued economic struggles, our collective stress level seems to be at an all-time high.

“It’s very high,” Donahue said. “It seems to get higher and higher each year. That’s why these techniques are so important. … People are actually feeling a lot of physical damages and changes as a result of the amount of stress they’re under. … I think the cause of most problems in a person’s body is due to some sort of stress – the physical, the biochemical, and the emotional stresses that happen.”

Donahue will be doing a free talk today at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at 90th Street and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale.