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10 Stress Relieving Tips

Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences that can be beneficial to your health and safety. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates. Stress can be triggered by the pressures of everyday responsibilities at work and at home. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can negatively affect your overall health and well-being.

1. Meditate

A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.

It's simple. Sit up straight with your legs crossed in front if sitting on the floor, or you can sit in a chair with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting silently a positive mantra or intention such as “I am at peace” or “I am loved.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.

2. Breathe Deeply

Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the chest and then the throat. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.

Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure by stimulating the vagus nerve. 

3. Be Present

Slow down. Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness.  Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.

When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.

4. Reach Out

Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others, preferably in person and face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.

5. Tune Into Your Body

Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.

Simply be aware of the places in the body that you feel tension without trying to change anything. For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that body part. Repeat this process as you move your focus up your body, paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.

6. Laugh out loud

A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.

8. Crank Up the Tunes

Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping), and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece. You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes or singing in the shower!

9. Get Moving

All forms of exercise, including YOGA and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.

10. Be Grateful 

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and improve your relationships.

Gratitude is paying attention to what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. It is finding satisfaction from what is around you and paying attention to the people, situations and things that make your life worthwhile.  

It is as simple as it sounds, everyday think of 3 things you are grateful for in that moment. Or say “thank you” to the people in your life that you are grateful for. Let them know what they mean to you. Not only will you make their day, you will feel uplifted for having shared your gratitude.

Relax. You deserve it, it's good for you, and it takes less time than you think.

 

Written by Yoga Peace Kula teacher Valerie Gregory

Summer Quashie