Exercising or meditation alone do benefit the body or mind, respectively. Even better, regularly engaging these in tandem reaps long-term rewards that far trump temporary relief. Positive or negative stress is hard on the heart, the immune system, metabolism and the spirit. Any combination of stresses experienced too closely together creates a toxic toll you must pay eventually. Here are five effective ways that you can reduce stress as it occurs.

Get enough sleep

Without adequate sleep, your body cannot keep up with your mind and your spirits. Sleep deprivation decreases productivity and increases accidents as your mind becomes more distracted than you think and slows your response time. Fatigue affects mood. Set a regular time to sleep each day. Shut off stimuli 30 minutes to an hour before lying down. Face the sun or simulated daylight for at least 20 minutes upon rising to reset your internal time clock and make it easier to establish a sleep pattern.

Exercise regularly

Depending on your personality and lifestyle, individual or group practice can be helpful. Keep your routine fresh by doing some of each. Too much exercise can cause more stress like inflammation, so you need movements your body can manage. Alternate practices for soothing or energizing movements. Choose exercise that combines deliberate movements and breathing like Restorative Yoga, Chi Running or Ai Chi for a more whole approach.

Meditate using focused self-reflective exercises

Mindfulness training is a growing trend but certainly is not a new strategy to combat stress and enhance physical fitness. There is a world of effective, ancient practices now available to us wherever we live. Tap into training your thoughts to tame your worries.

Invest in good counsel when your thoughts or feelings become unmanageable

Good mental health is not just for people who regularly experience anxiety or depression. It requires regular reality checks sometimes from an objective, trained professional rather than from familiar people. Likewise, physical therapy need not be limited to people recovering from injuries. It can teach you specific movements tailored to improve your ranges of motion for specific areas of the body. You may realize longer term, more lasting benefits from forms of therapy that teach you more effective ways of responding in the first place.

Take more than five to meditate, breathe and move

Discover the power of combining deliberate physical movements with focused mental motion as needed. Keeping the body in motion using varying tension helps regulate body systems, ease isolation and foster networking for personal or business relationships. Practiced regularly, combined exercising and meditation can help relieve emotional, psychological and physical stress for the long haul. Simple yet effective ways walking, gardening, yoga or simply raking leaves or cleaning your environment.

Learning to manage and focus your thoughts better so you can live more in the present than looking back or ahead gives you more productive perspectives that keep you grounded just for today without keeping you tethered to a time frame where you can-not make changes. Changing your thinking and moving can lessen stress for a better life now.

Originally published at medium.com