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Stress Relief for Your Body, Mind and Spirit
Fifteen ways to de-stress once and for all!

Stress is a part of modern-day living - but it certainly doesn't have to run your life. In fact, too much stress may ruin your life. Stress can play havoc with your immune system, raise your blood pressure, cause weight gain and decrease blood flow to your extremities. Stress also raises your anxiety level and, at the very least, makes life unpleasant for your and those around you. The good news is that there are hundreds of ways to shrink the stress monster and to add a bit of relaxation to your day. Here are fifteen quick stress relief suggestions, divided up between Body, Mind and Spirit:

(Article continued below.)

Part One: Body
  1. Go for a walk. When your brain is on overload and you can't even think straight, the best thing you can do is to give it a rest. An easy way to do that is to engage your body in some form of physical activity. Walking works for almost everyone. If your immediate surroundings are getting to you, leaving the scene for a ten-minute walk can calm you down and put things in perspective. Do you really feel like you're going to explode? Then do something more vigorous - run, or if you have some privacy, put on some up-tempo music and dance. If stress is very much a constant in your life, make time for regular cardio workouts, and for those really bad days, a kickboxing session may do the trick.
  2. Practice deep breathing. Most people have forgotten how to breathe properly, and when we're feeling stressed, our breathing becomes even more shallow - it's part of the body's "fight or flight" response. Slow, deep breathing helps relax the nervous system and calms the emotions. If you practice Yoga, you probably already know the correct way to breathe; the rest of you should at least know that proper breathing begins with the abdomen. Most people only fill the upper third of their lungs - the upper chest area -when they breathe. A slow inhalation should start low in the abdomen and continue upwards until your lungs are completely filled. The exhalation should go in the exact reverse, and you should contract your abs slightly to get the last molecules of air out. Take a few breaths this way when you are tense, and it will help you to relax.
  3. Cut out the caffeine and sugar (well, maybe not the chocolate!). People often reach for an extra cup of coffee or a candy bar to beat the afternoon blahs, but when stress levels are high, this may not be a good idea. In that case, the caffeine jitters or a sugar rush may make you feel even worse. The one exception to this seems to be chocolate, which studies have found can temporarily increase levels of serotonin and endorphins, which lift your mood. If you do opt for some chocolate, however, choose dark chocolate, which is richer in antioxidants, and eat just a couple of squares, not a whole, movie theater-sized bar. And really savor those squares - appreciate the dreamy flavor, and the way they feel melting in your mouth. Make it a small exercise in indulgence and you'll get the full stress-releasing benefits.
  4. Stretch. When you're stressed out, your muscles tense up, especially your shoulders, neck and jaw. Keeping your body loose and limber all day will help keep your stress level down. Take time out every couple of hours to really stretch your whole body from your toes to the tips of your fingers. Do some head and shoulder rolls. Try to reach the ceiling. Twist around while sitting in your chair. It's impossible to feel stress when your body is relaxed.
  5. Take a hot bath. This is another way to get the blood moving and bring warmth and relaxation to your muscles. Plus the feeling of indulgence is another way of relaxing. Make it a bubble bath, or add your favorite fragrance. Light an aromatherapy candle. Let this be your time, for yourself alone. And that goes for you guys, too. If you feel silly going the fragrance and candle route, then toss in some Mr. Bubble and a rubber ducky. Bring back childhood memories of when everything was fun and there were no bills to pay.

Next page >> Mind >> Page 1, 2, 3

This article sponsored by Stress Less.

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