Feeling tense? Locals offer timely tips for stress management


NORTHERN RI –Stress can hit like a brutal boxer from an infinite number of situations: car troubles, job and money concerns, continuing conflicts over COVID.

Emotions, fear, worry and stress are contagious too.

But people do not have to helplessly succumb to the pressures of daily life. According to local health and wellness experts, there are many ways to reduce anxiety – and give stress a sucker punch.

Attitude is paramount.

“Your mind set has to be in the right place,” said Robin Riel, long-time dancer, fitness expert, and instructor and business owner – and former New England Patriots cheerleader.

Shaping the mind in a positive direction to alleviate stress begins at home.

“Cleaning your house to your favorite ‘80s music,” or, upon awakening, “meditating to your favorite soul songs,” are ways to help reduce stress, said Riel.

Her North Smithfield business Ocean State Dance & Fitness offers an array of ways to begin easing the mind such as dance instruction, from ballet and ballroom to tap, jazz, and contemporary, along with other forms of physical fitness: cardio, toning, Zumba, and yoga.

To keep stress at bay, “It’s important to keep mentally happy by looking forward,” said Riel, pointing to the importance of taking part in fun activities. Ocean State Dance & Fitness features happy events ranging from a brunch with a princess, to crafts, special events for parents, and ballroom dancing for Valentine’s Day.

Movement eases stress. Exercise produces endorphins, when endorphins are pumping, people feel good, which in turn reduces stress, noted Certified Personal Trainer Charisse Draleau.

Have access to a flight of stairs? “Make it a point to get up and down stairs more often,” said Draleau, who’s also the member experience manager at Anytime Fitness in Burrillville, owned by Beth Tetreault-Gaucher.

“The more you move the more you decrease risk,” of conditions linked to stress such as heart disease, noted Draleau.

“A one hour workout is four percent of your day: a small amount of time to give up to ensure we’re staying healthy,” she said.

Draleau suggests 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy – 150 minutes of movement a week.

Another stress reliever for some people is massage.

“Massage is great for any body,” said Heidi George, owner of Peaceful Waters Therapeutic Massage in North Smithfield.

A massage is, “beneficial to blood circulation.”

Heidi George

“Manipulating muscles is getting the blood flowing.” said George, a licensed massage therapist.

Unable to get a massage?

In fact, a kind of self mini-massage might have health benefits for some folks. One expert advises using a loofah sponge on the skin.

“If you scrub, and rub, towards the heart you’ll be giving yourself a valuable massage,” writes health researcher, author, publisher Andrew W. Saul at DoctorYourself.com. “Masseurs always work in the direction of the heart to stimulate blood flow in and below the skin. The direction would be up the arms and up the legs and then up the trunk.”

Need ideas on how to avoid some stress?

Consider “secondhand stress.”

When participants of a study were observing stressed-out people, 26 percent of the observers, “showed a significant cortisol increase,” reported NaturalNews.com about research conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Dresden University of Technology.

Cortisol is known as the, “stress hormone.”

The study also found that the effect was 40 percent stronger when the observer was in a couple relationship with the stressed individual.

What’s more, in a separate study researchers learned, “children [are] even more vulnerable to secondhand stress,” according to researchers at the University of California, reported Natural News.

In three steps, a person can possibly counteract the effect of encountering someone else’s stress, writes Mike Bundrant, the author of the Natural News report:

1 Slow down and acknowledge the stress.
2 Determine specifically what triggered the stress.
3 Identify the cause and the effect by saying or writing it in a cause and effect sentence.
4 Employ a stress-reduction strategy for self-help.

Stress is contagious. Stress can hit unexpectedly and all at once. But stress has met its match in exercise, dance, and massage – and using the powers of the mind for a knock-out punch.

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