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May 23, 2012, 2:30 pm betterhomesgardens
Learn how to reduce stress in your life with these highly effective relaxation techniques.
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Just relax. What is it about that well-intentioned advice – usually suggested when you’re tearing your hair out – that makes you do the opposite? Being told to relax, it seems, is the quickest way to make someone more tense.
But you can choose to relax – your continued good health depends on it. When you’re constantly under stress, your body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, poor sleep, immune deficiencies and irritability. And, no, pills won’t do the trick – but here are five quick and easy techniques that will.
When problems pile up, aim to delete them from your mind.Try this
Sit up straight in a chair with your body relaxed. Keep your neck erect but loose, as if your head were being held from the ceiling by thin wires. Rest your hands lightly across your knees, palms up, and stare straight ahead at a neutral spot.In your mind – or out loud, if you’re alone – bring up your problems and dismiss them with a positive statement. For example, ‘I’m worried about my dad… It’s okay, I’ll visit him tomorrow.’ Don’t think about specifics – a quick answer is all you need. Clear the problems and make them neutral, then your mind can rest.
If your thoughts are keeping you awake, try slow breathing while you count softly from one to 10, and back again. This is deceptively effective as it’s hard to count and think at the same time.Try this
Say ‘One’, then inhale for three counts. Say ‘Relax’, and breathe out for three counts. Repeat to 10, then go back to one. Remember, you’re not taking a deep breath – you’re taking a normal breath that’s slow and controlled.3. Breathe like a baby
Have you ever closely watched a baby breathe? The chest moves, the belly pops up and the front of the body rides like a raft in the waves. The pelvis rocks and legs separate, then come back together to complete the breath. It’s full-body breathing, but most of us don’t breathe like this. In fact, as we get older, we tend to breath shallowly, in the chest instead of the abdomen where those breaths should be. Take a five-minute breathing break each day to relax (see below).Try this
Sit in a comfy chair. Close your eyes and take a few deep, conscious breaths, beginning with the exhale. Just inhale and pause, exhale and pause. Continue breathing in this way for five minutes. It’s simple, powerful and very healing.
We’ve all been there. Something sets you off, tempers flare, arguing begins and nobody listens to the other side. You can make a choice: raise your voice or step back and calm yourself before you react. Anger can be stressful and unproductive so, next time you’re fuming, take these steps to stay calm.Try this
Step back and disengage from the situation. Stop talking. Put your hand on your heart (if this feels too silly to do at work, just do it in your mind). Now breathe consciously and deeply. Take a few moments to conjure up a memory of something you appreciated – the sunset you watched last night or precious time spent with a loved one. Now, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to change this situation?’. With a calm mind and peaceful approach, do what seems right. You’ll most likely find that all parties involved will settle down and talk about what happened instead of hurling accusations.
If you’ve ever rubbed your head to ease a headache, you have practised the ancient healing art of acupressure without realising it.Try this
Hands: To release stress and strain, start by rubbing your hands together in a circular motion, like a movie villain hatching an evil plan (but in a good way). Then lace your fingers together and knead the backs of your hands with your fingertips. Lastly, use your thumbs to knead your palms.
Head: Start by moving your hands from your chin to your cheeks, using a circular motion as though you’re washing your face without soap. Guide your fingers to your temples and rub gently. Move to the back of your head and start to massage, working your fingers upwards to the top of your head.
Feet: It’s easy to massage your own feet if you can’t corral a willing partner. Find a comfortable chair and rest one foot on your knee. Rub the entire sole of your foot, from heel to toe, in a circular motion. Repeat on the other foot.
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