Stressed? Tips on How to Relax

Dr. Heather Tick Healthy Balance 3 Comments

Have you ever watched a video of a gazelle fleeing from a lion? That gazelle is in high-stress mode. Its heart rate and blood pressure shoot up. Its blood sugar level rockets upwards. Its digestive, reproductive, hormone, and immune systems shut down.

When we’re stressed, our bodies respond the same way. Instead of short minutes, however, our chronic stress can last for months or years. Our stress response wears down our bodies and promotes all the common chronic diseases — diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and chronic pain.

Mindful Breathing to Reduce Stress

tips to relax when stressedCardiologist Herbert Benson was astonished when he studied Tibetan monks who lower their blood pressure and heart rate just by meditating. He even realized that teaching Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques can sometimes be more effective than surgery for treating cardiac conditions.

Yogic Breathing Practice:

  1. Sit upright. Make yourself comfortable.
  2. Press a finger against your left nostril.
  3. Breathe in through your right nostril.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of three.
  5. Release your finger and close your right nostril with your thumb. Breathe out fully through your left nostril. Pause.
  6. Breathe through your left nostril.
  7. Hold your breath for a count of three.
  8. Press a finger against your left nostril.
  9. Release your thumb and breathe out through your right nostril.

Continue for as many minutes as you can spare. Each exhale should be about twice as long as your inhale. This yogic breathing practice might calm you, clear your mind, and give you energy.

How to relax when you have stressBe Grateful

Before you fall asleep tonight, think about five things you’re grateful for, write them down, and be specific.

Appreciate both the big and small events in your life. Celebrate promotions and think about the delicious meals you enjoyed. Appreciate your warm and loving family, the trees along the sidewalk, the sunrise, your friends, a pet, your abilities and talents, or even your bed. Make note of any five things, big or small.

How to relax when stressedSleep

It’s a necessity, not a luxury. We need sleep to recover from the damage our bodies take during the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, the brain makes molecules associated with stress. In other words, if you sleep well, you get an overnight tune-up. If you don’t sleep well, your body experiences cellular stress.

How much should you sleep? Enough to wake up feeling refreshed and not feel drowsy during the day.

Chew on This

For me, the perfect time to de-stress is right when I pull into the driveway. I’ll switch the engine off and lay back in the seat with my eyes closed. Try doing some breathing exercises or just take two minutes for yourself the next time you drive home or take a slow and mindful walk from the bus.

Try this for a week. You’ll notice the difference.

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