(NOT SURE WHY STRESS REDUCTION IS IMPORTANT? CLICK HERE)
1. Take a Walk/EXERCISE: Move!!!! Walk to the water cooler, around the block. Physical activity releases beneficial hormones and diffuses excessive tension. Minimum 3-4 days weekly. Even better if you can grab a bit of nature in a park or near a large body of water.
2. Turn off the news and stressful TV shows – Don’t underestimate the effect that negative TV can have on your mood. A day long drone of Cable News or the shrieking of reality TV diva’s fighting over nonsense can damage your calm without you realizing it. That underlying sense of dread? It can definitely be amplified by what’s soaked into your subconscious over the course of the day. Opt for alternatives like Listen to a Movie, podcasts, TuneIn Radio or Pandora. Alternatively, reacquaint yourself with the sound of silence. MEDIA FASTING!!!! TRY IT!!!! I’ve used it myself and it works.
3. Just Say No Trying to do everything is a one-way ticket to serious stress. Be clear about your limits, and stop trying to please everyone all the time. ONE OF MY FAVORITES!
4. Put It on Paper Writing provides perspective, says Paul J. Rosch, M.D., president of the American Institute of Stress in Yonkers, NY. Divide a piece of paper into two parts. On the left side, list the stressors you may be able to change, and on the right, list the ones you can’t. “Change what you can,” Dr. Rosch suggests, “and stop fretting over what you can’t.”
5. Decrease Alcohol/Switch to Decaf: Wean yourself slowly, or you might get a caffeine-withdrawal headache that could last for several days, cautions James Duke, Ph.D., the Fulton, MD, author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale Press, 1997). Subtract a little regular coffee and add some decaf to your morning cup. Over the next couple of weeks, gradually increase the proportion of decaf to regular until you’re drinking all decaf. You should also consider switching from regular soft drinks to caffeine-free ones or sparkling mineral water. ( I would go a little farther and stop all sodas)
6. Check Your Chi Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a 5,000-year-old Chinese practice designed to promote the flow of chi, the vital life force that flows throughout the body, regulating its functions. Qigong master Ching-Tse Lee, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College in New York, recommends this calming exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. Bend your knees to a quarter-squat position (about 45 degrees) while keeping your upper body straight. Observe your breathing for a couple of breaths. Inhale and bring your arms slowly up in front of you to shoulder height with your elbows slightly bent. Exhale, stretching your arms straight out. Inhale again, bend your elbows slightly and drop your arms down slowly until your thumbs touch the sides of your legs. Exhale one more time, then stand up straight.
7. Breathe Easily “Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly,” says Robert Cooper, Ph.D., the San Francisco coauthor of The Power of 5(Rodale Press, 1996), a book of five-second and five-minute health tips. Shallow chest breathing, by contrast, can cause your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up, exacerbating feelings of stress. To breathe deeply, begin by putting your hand on your abdomen just below the navel. Inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.
8. Shake It Up This quick exercise helps loosen the muscles in your neck and upper back, says Dr. Sobel: Stand or sit, stretch your arms out from your sides and shake your hands vigorously for about 10 seconds. Combine this with a little deep breathing, Dr. Sobel says, and you’ll do yourself twice as much good.
9. Say a Little Prayer Studies show that compared with those who profess no faith, religious and spiritual people are calmer and healthier.
10. Get Horizontal If sex has been on the bottom of your to-do list for too long, move it to the top. Sex increases levels of endorphins, those mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, and it’s one of the best total-body relaxers around, says Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D., a sex therapist in Sacramento, CA. Make a date with your mate, and don’t let anything get in the way.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY TECHNIQUES:
1. Say Yes to Pressure Acupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture, but with fingers instead of needles. Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D., director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, CA, recommends pressing on the following three points:
- The Third Eye, located between the eyebrows, in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead.
- The Heavenly Pillar, on the back of the neck slightly below the base of the skull, about half an inch to the left or right of the spine.
- The Heavenly Rejuvenation, half an inch below the top of each shoulder, midway between the base of the neck and the outside of the shoulder blade.
- Breathe deeply and apply firm, steady pressure on each point for two to three minutes. The pressure should cause a mild aching sensation, but not pain.
2. Try Tea By now most of us know about the calming properties of chamomile tea. But a steaming cup of catnip, passionflower, skullcap or kava kava also work, according to Dr. Duke. Whether you use tea bags or loose tea (one teaspoon of tea per cup of boiling water), steep for about 10 minutes to get the full benefits of the herbs.
3. Stretch Muscles tighten during the course of the day, and when we feel stressed out, the process accelerates. Stretching loosens muscles and encourages deep breathing. Molly Fox, creative fitness director at the Equinox Fitness Center in New York City, says one of the greatest stress-relieving stretches is a yoga position called the child pose, which stretches the back muscles. On a rug or mat, kneel, sit back on your heels, then lean forward and put your forehead on the floor and your arms alongside your legs, palms up. Hold for one to three minutes.
4. Do nothing – Give your self a “sick day” – permission to sit on the couch all day and watch a Warehouse 13 marathon with your family might be just what you need. Spread a blanket on the floor, get takeout and have an indoor picnic. While too much T.V. or the wrong kind can be bad for you – for some of us a day off to watch our favorite geeky movie franchise or television show is just what we need. Conversely if you’ve been dying to check out that new flea market or comic book store, go ahead and do so.
5. Protect yourself – Don’t exacerbate the situation. If you are prone to taking on too much, establish a moratorium on new projects and favors for anyone outside your immediate family. Set a time frame, maybe a few months, in which the answer is just NO, no matter what it is (within reason of course, your kids need to eat)
6. Seek out mood lifters – If having a presence on social media is integral to your job, and you just can’t leave – then by all means counteract the negative. Follow some funny people , then start your day with a healthy dose of positive thinking and humor. George Takei is a well known curator of funny and thoughtful posts on Facebook. Look for Craig Ballanytne’s blog Turbulence Training for inspirational fitness ideas and especially his “KICK BUTT” mindset of the day! Other great sites include www.Jamesclear.com.
7. Supplements–Sometimes life throws so many curves that resorting to medication seems like a necessity. Before going to medications, consider trying a natural herbal/mineral alternative. Formula 303. Safe and effective it’s well worth a try.
ENJOY LIFE, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, HUG YOUR KIDS, HAVE A PURPOSE