Stressed? Tips To Reduce Your Stress Levels (Part 2)

August 18, 2011

by Justine Parsons
Still stressed?  Here are some more tips for you to try.
Shake It Up
This quick exercise helps loosen the muscles in your neck and upper back: 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, and you’ll do yourself twice as much good.
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.  Make a date with your mate, and don’t let anything get in the way.

Munch Some Snacks
Foods that are high in carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin, feel-good brain chemicals that help induce calm. Crackers, pretzels, or a bagel should do the trick.
Boost Your Vitamin Intake
Try a daily multivitamin and mineral formula that contains between 100% and 300% of the recommended dietary allowances of vitamin B, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Avoid stress formulas, which often contain large amounts of randomly formulated nutrients, such as the B vitamins, but little or nothing else.
Space Out
Look out the window and find something natural that captures your imagination, notice the clouds rolling by or the wind in the trees.
Take a Walk
It forces you to breathe more deeply and improves circulation. Step outside if you can; if that’s not possible, you can gain many of the same benefits simply by walking to the bathroom or water cooler, or by pacing back and forth. The key is to get up and move.
Soak it Up
When I have the time, nothing is more stress relieving for me than a hot bath (ok, perhaps not a tip for the office – same with the Get Horizontal tip!)  But when I don’t have time, I do the next-best thing: I wash my face or even just my hands and arms with hot water. The key is to imagine that I’m taking a hot bath. It’s basically a visualization exercise, but the hot water makes it feel real.
Play a Few Bars A number of recent studies have shown that music can do everything from slow heart rate to increase endorphins. Good bets: Bach’s “Air on the G-String,” Beethoven’s Pastorale symphony, Chopin’s Nocturne in G, Handel’s Water Music, or pianist George Winston’s CDs Autumn or December.
Fall for Puppy Love
In a study of 100 women conducted last year at the State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that those who owned a dog had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t. If you don’t have a pooch, visit a friend’s: Petting an animal for just a couple of minutes helps relieve stress, researchers have found.
Practice Mindfulness
Heighten your awareness of the moment by focusing intently on an object. Notice a pencil’s shape, color, weight and feel. Or slowly savour a raisin or a piece of chocolate. Mindfulness leads to relaxation.
Phone a Friend
Sharing your troubles can give you perspective, help you feel cared for and relieve your burden.
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. 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.
Make Plans
Looking forward to something provides calming perspective. Buy concert tickets, schedule a weekend getaway, or make an appointment for a massage.
Straighten Up
When people are under stress, they slump over as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Slumping restricts breathing and reduces blood and oxygen flow to the brain, adding to muscle tension and magnifying feelings of panic and helplessness. Straightening your spine has just the opposite effect. It promotes circulation, increases oxygen levels in your blood and helps lessen muscle tension, all of which promote relaxation.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Tending your garden helps get you out of your head and lets you commune with nature, a known stress reliever. If you’re not a gardener, tend to a houseplant. Plants = growth = cycle of life, a nice reminder that stress, too, will pass.

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