Relax…Your Life Could Depend on It!

By admin
January 02, 2017

post it notes at a busy office desk

As we enter the New Year, we’ve just come off one of the most stressful (if not THE most stressful) times of year. As we collectively breathe a sigh of relief that we can get back into our normal routines, it’s a really good time to take stock of what we can do to dial back our stress to a healthier level. Why? Because unchecked stress can have dramatic negative impacts on our body, mind and spirit. The accumulated stresses of everyday life can damage our health in irreversible ways – from early aging to heart problems and long-term disability.

There is really nothing magical about learning to manage stress. The problem is, that when we are stressed out, it’s easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle of feeling the pressure build, which makes us less productive, which makes us more stressed with even more to do and less time to do it. And so, the process perpetuates itself. We are also less rational and less able to recognize and address the source or sources of our stress.

It turns out, there are some pretty simple ways we can dial back our “stressometers.”

Following are just a few techniques that have been found to be effective in lowering stress.

  • Take a deep breath – Try breathing in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.
  • Listen to music – Playing calm music can lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. For variety, try listening to ocean or nature sounds. They have similar relaxing effects to music.
  • Call a friend – The sound of a friendly, reassuring voice, even for just a minute or two, can help put everything in perspective.
  • Have a cup of tea – Green tea has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Be mindful – “Mindfulness” activities such as yoga, Pilates and meditation incorporate physical and mental exercises that prevent stress from becoming a problem.
  • Exercise, even for just a minute – A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.

When stress starts interfering with your daily life for an extended period of time, it is more than just worrisome, it can be dangerous to your health. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for you, both physically and emotionally. Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Try resolving to learn how to better manage your stress. It could be one of the single most positive things you do for yourself this year.

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