Five anti-stress techniques
Stressed? Crazy-stressed? Experts say you can stay ahead of stress and keep your cool by taking a little time every day to connect with your mind and body.
Chicago Healers Practitioner Dr. Helen Lee suggests five easy ways to stay relaxed and connected to yourself, no matter what’s going on around you:
Breathe. Breathe slowly and deeply. In times of great stress, we can forget how important it is to keep the oxygen flowing smoothly into our bodies. Shallow breathing tells your body you’re in “fight or flight” mode and ready to jump and run at any moment—stress mode. Slow, deep breathing tells your body you’re safe, and it also brings more oxygen to your brain. Breathing deeply and slowly will help you digest your food, detoxify, and rebalance your hormones.
Feel grateful. It’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same time, so remembering the things for which you are grateful can be a great remedy for stress. No matter how dire things seem at this moment, you are also awash in blessings, if you look at it from another perspective. There are always those better off and worse off than you are; focus on how fortunate you are to be in your own place and time. Most of us, if we sat in a circle ready to trade our problems, would grab our own back once we saw what other people have to deal with. You are lucky. Feeling lucky releases positive chemicals to help you feel happy and relaxed.
Laugh. Laughing for ten minutes a day can change the way you look at the world and may actually change your body. Laughter—even laughter that you have to “pretend”—releases happiness chemicals in the brain. It also strengthens the heart and might even help you burn calories. Keep funny books and DVDs on hand to give you a chuckle when you need one.
Think. Meditate by simply being aware of your breathing and your thoughts. Watch your thoughts come and go without judging them. If meditation is not for you, use your thinking time to visualize a situation in which you are happy and fulfilled. Think about anything except the things you are worried about; you can tackle your problems when your thinking time is up.
Walk. A 20-minute walk in the fresh air, day or night, can help you refocus your thoughts. Getting away from your computer keyboard is important; take your cell phone with you for emergencies, but turn off the ringer until you get back home. The world can wait 20 minutes for you to return. Walk the dog, walk with a friend of family member, or walk alone. Focus on breathing as you walk and feel appreciation for the nature around you.