Tips to Reduce Stress

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I feel a little stressed out lately. I think my stress and anxiety comes from a combination of starting a new school semester, grieving the death of my father and two good friends, and worldly events. I had a few sleepless nights and a few panic attacks. I knew I had to get myself back on track. The best way to reduce stress is through self-care.

My self-care includes slowing down, staying home and resting, taking a bath, eating well, taking the time to reflect, getting a massage, listening to a relaxing podcast, meditating, doing yoga, walking my dog, and spending time with good friends.

Here are a few more tips for reducing stress (taken from Ridgeview Medical Center, Home Care and Hospice, Minnesota):

  1. Stress reduction in five minutes. Mediation, deep breathing, and yoga increases oxygen, moves your body, and focuses your mind. Just take 5 minutes twice a day (morning and evening) to do yoga and meditation. Studies show that this lowers blood pressure, releases healing hormones into your body, increases creativity, increases productivity, and increases your ability to handle stressful situations.
  2. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Walk your dog, walk at lunch, or set a treadmill up in your living room so you can exercise and watch your favorite show while you give your body life. Discover new exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong. Death rates from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, are much lower in people exercising 30 minutes a day. Exercise lowers the risk of strokes, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
  3. Laugh as often as possible to release healing hormones such as endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Do not buy pills for your stress. Rent a funny movie or go online to a humorous site daily. Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and boosts your immune function.
  4. Play and re-establish “child-like” qualities. Science tells us when we play; it increases our immune cells that combat disease. Playfulness also increases creativity and optimism at home and work.
  5. Pay attention. When we daily pay attention and learn to live a life of awareness and mindfulness, we become aware or our emotions, our choices, our relationships, our home life, our work, we can begin to live a rich life of awareness. Practicing mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression.
  6. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are healthier and live longer than non-breakfast eaters. Research has shown that people who live to the age of 100 were consistent breakfast eaters or they consumed breakfast more frequently than non-breakfast eaters. People who eat breakfast consumed less fat and had a higher intake of essential vitamins and minerals, and lower serum cholesterol, which leads to a lower instance of heart disease.
  7. Get a pet. Studies reveal there are benefits of owning a pet, such as reduction of blood pressure and inducing a relaxation response in our bodies. Pets are emotional lifesavers, they help people experience intimacy and help with changes and loss in our lives.
  8. Create Friendships. Friendships are strong indicators of mental, physical and spiritual health. Friendship is not a luxury but is essential to work-life balance and your health. Studies show that isolation decreases immune functioning and increases mortality risk.
  9. Attitude of Gratitude. It is physiologically impossible to be grateful and experience stress at the same time. Research shows grateful individuals report having more energy and less physical complaints than their non-grateful counterparts. Studies tell us daily gratitude exercises resulted in high levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.
  10. Altruism and philanthropy. A generous soul lives a rich, abundant life. Altruism neutralizes negative emotions that affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function. Altruism creates physiological responses or “helpers high” that makes people feel stronger and more energetic and counters harmful effects of stress.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. Blessings.

Namaste, world.

“Take Some Deep Breaths”

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About two weeks ago, my mom was having health problems, and I had to call 911. It’s been about ten years since I called 911. I was a little shaken because my mom couldn’t walk. As I talked to the 911 operator, she told me, “Take some deep breaths.” I did as she asked and I felt much better afterwards. I just needed to hear those words: take some deep breaths.

In this emergency situation, my deep breathing was different than I expected. I inhaled into my nostrils and exhaled out my mouth. I remember puckering my lips as I exhaled – like blowing out candles. After breathing deeply, I was able to gain composure and continue with the call.

Deep breathing increases oxygen to the whole body. It is best to use the respiratory system to its fullest; especially in stressful situations. Deep breathing relaxes the body and mind.

Here is a breathing technique to help you reduce your stress and anxiety:

Deep Nostril Breathing and Mouth Exhalation Technique (taken from “Science of Breath: A Complete Manual of the Oriental Breathing Philosophy of Physical, Mental, Psychic and Spiritual Development,” by Yogi Ramacharaka):

  1. First focus on listening to your breathing (breath going in and out of your lungs).
  2. Once you have listened to your breathing for a few breath cycles, you should begin to scan your body to identify where tension and anxiety exist.
  3. Once you have identified tension and anxiety in a particular area and you are mindful of it, take a deep nostril breath, hold, and then exhale the breath through your mouth.
  4. Repeat this process several times until you are mindful of a reduction in tension in that area. Then shift your attention to other parts of the body where tension/anxiety exist and repeat the procedure.

I hope I will never have to call 911 again. But if I do, then I will remember to “take some deep breaths.” I know that increasing oxygen in my body will help me face the challenge before me.

May you go forward in peace.

Namaste, world.

breathe

Your breath touched my soul and I saw beyond all limits. —Rumi