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The plague of modern man, stress

April is Stress Awareness Month and the lives of servicemembers, as well as their families can be quite stressful from time to time. With that in mind, Jacqueline Gray Okun from Offutt's Mental Health Clinic, offers some advice on reducing stress.

April is Stress Awareness Month and the lives of servicemembers, as well as their families can be quite stressful from time to time. With that in mind, Jacqueline Gray Okun from Offutt's Mental Health Clinic, offers some advice on reducing stress.

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Stress can be an everyday option and most of us choose it, or at least choose to do nothing about it because it appears difficult to avoid. According to Dr. Margaret Davis, stress can be defined as "any change you must adapt to," ranging from actual threat of danger to the excitement of falling in love.

Stress lurks around every corner and we tend to experience it in four primary ways, environmentally, socially, physiologically and cognitively.

There are many stress "triggers" in everyday interactions. Some examples are looking for work, school, deployments, relationship issues, financial strain and death or divorce to name a few.

We can't give up because stress triggers are a reality in our lives. So how do we cope with stress?

Thankfully, the same mechanism that turns our stress response on can also turn it off. Physically, this is called the relaxation response. As soon as we decide we are no longer in danger, our brain stops sending emergency signals to our brain stem, which in turn, ceases to send panic messages to our nervous system. It is suggested that you can use your mind to change your physiology.

The use of diaphragmatic breathing may aid people with controlling their anxiety. This technique is achieved by breathing in through your nostrils slowly while pushing your belly out. It is suggested that on the inhale, count to five and then relax and exhale through your mouth. Rest and repeat.

Progressive relaxation is relaxing every part of your body beginning with your toes, all the way up to your eyes, and is extremely effective. This is done by holding, tightening and then, loosening each body part. Some people also enjoy meditation to decrease stress.

Regular exercise is another effective method to relieve stress. It may sound contradictory to release tension with something difficult. However, strenuous exercise, because it's hard, takes our focus away from today or tomorrow and forces us to focus on a much healthier activity.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy involves changing our thoughts. Once we change our thoughts, what follows is a change of feeling. Once our feelings change, our behavior follows suit. Cognitive means thought processes or perception. The central theme in cognitive therapy is that our perception of an event or experience, powerfully affects our emotional, behavioral and physiological responses to it.