4 Ways to Relieve Stress

1. Breathe! Sounds simple right? Well, unfortunately, people forget to do this and actually hold their breath during tense situations. If you want to be diligent and learn an advanced breathing method, there are a variety of techniques out there. But if you want to keep it simple, here are a couple of suggestions:

 A. Inhale for the count of 4, then hold the breath for 4 seconds. Exhale the breath out for a count of 4, then hold for 4 seconds. You can build up all the way to a count of 10. This will increase your lung capacity and allow you to take deeper breaths over time.

B. If all the counting is too much, then simply take 3 deep breaths when a stressful situation arises. Again, working up to 10 deep breaths. Remember to do this slowly, as you don’t want to hyperventilate!

2. Meditation: Meditation is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to do it! Some people like to light incense and candles, some do it seated, while others lie on their backs. And then there are those who find it necessary to hold a full lotus pose, while arguing the proper position to hold your hands. I say, “KEEP IT SIMPLE!” and do what works for you! If you’re comfortable, then chances are you’re more likely to do it more often- which is the key!! Even if it’s 5 minutes a day, (you don’t have to be a monk to meditate), it will be good for your central nervous system and it’s a great way to start or end your day with peace and calm.

A. An easy way to start meditating is with a helping hand. There are guided meditations you can buy on CD. This is a great way to start when you’re not sure what it is you should be doing. It will also help you to focus on something positive, instead of letting your mind wonder. The whole point of meditation is letting the mind rest.

B. Some meditation guides recommend focusing on your breath. Simply listening to the in and out of the breath, while trying to take deep, slow, controlled breaths. This is a good technique and it’s free!

C. Yet another suggestion is to focus on the chakra energies. You can picture a white light (or green or blue or whatever you like) going to that particular chakra (there are 7 main chakra points). Concentrate on your breath and the light filling that chakra point with the intention of clearing the energy for positive purposes and ridding the body of stale, negative energy. Mantra: “I breath in good energy and exhale the bad.” or “In with the good, out with the bad.” Over time, you won’t have to say that, you will just hold that intention.

The whole point of meditation is to give the mind a break- to actually stop thinking! It’s very challenging- believe me, I try! That’s why a mantra can be good, at times. If your mind wonders to other thoughts, it can bring you back to the reason why you are meditating!

3. Laughter: You’ve heard the old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it’s true! Laughter releases endorphines, the body’s “feel good” chemicals. Endorphines promote an overall sense of well-being and can even eleviate pain!

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving the mucles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases immune cells and infection fighting antibodies, thus protecting you from illness.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels, which helps prevent heart attack and disease.

4. Yoga/Stretching: Yoga isn’t necessarily something you have to do at a yoga studio or gym. This can be an expensive option, especially if you want to go several times per week. There are less expensive ways to go about a yoga practice. You buy a tape/CD and practice at home. Or if time is what you’re short on, then pick just 2 or 3 poses and practice those. It’s about giving your body at least a few moments every day to relax and release. I also say, “Something is better than nothing!” Same goes for the stretches. When I have patients suffering with pain, I always start them out slowly by giving them just 1 or 2 stretches to focus on. This way, they have a better chance of actually doing them!