10 steps to relieve stress

Do you ever get home after a long day at work and feel wore completely out? Do you feel like the weight of the world, which was already on your shoulders, is now crushing you to the ground? What about the stress you are feeling at work itself? If you are constantly feeling stressed then you should consider trying out some various stress reduction techniques.

Stress relief tips # 1. Prep For Tomorrow

Nothing is more stressful than being unprepared. Get organized so you're ready for the next day, taking a few minutes to make a to-do list and clean up before you leave. Knowing you've got everything covered means you'll be less likely to fret about work in the evenings. When you come in the next morning, you'll have the sense that you're in control of the situation and can handle it. This sets a positive tone for the day, which can help you get more accomplished.

Stress relief tips # 2. Arm yourself with healthy snacks.

According to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey, more women than men (one in three) turn to comfort food such as ice cream and cookies to ease stress. It's common for women to deny themselves favorite foods because they're trying to lose weight. But under stress, the urge for them becomes even stronger.

In fact, researchers at Montclair State University in New Jersey recently confirmed that dieters are more likely than non-dieters to overeat when under pressure, bingeing on the very same high-fat foods they normally try to avoid. The key is to not deprive yourself. Keep three or four healthy snacks on hand that you know you'll probably want--peanuts, if you like salty; string cheese, if you crave protein; a small piece of chocolate for something sweet--so you aren't tempted to binge.

There are many different types of stress relief techniques available. Some of them you can practice on your own while others may require you to have a partner or a small group. Also, what works for some individuals may not necessarily work for others. The secret is in finding what works for you and sticking with it. The first group of techniques to discuss are the ones you will find useful when you practice them alone.

Solitary Techniques

The most effective solitary stress reduction techniques you should know are the deep breathing exercises. When you are alone in your office or a room at home you can easily practice these. Sit back, relax and make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you are wearing restrictive clothing such as a tie make sure you loosen it. Close your eyes and visualize the most beautiful place you have ever seen.

As you begin to build this image you should start taking slow deep breaths in through your nose and let them out through your mouth just as slowly. Expound on your mental image by adding sounds and smells so that you could feel as if you are almost there. Keep the slow breathing up for as long as possible. After about five to ten minutes of this you will either be feeling very relaxed and free of some of that stress or you will have fallen asleep which can sometimes be just as good.

Partner Techniques

One of the most effective stress reduction techniques for partners is massage. A good massage can help you both to let go of some of your stress. The partner that is receiving the massage can let the stress drain out of their body while getting totally relaxed. The partner who is giving the massage can imagine focusing their stress into their hands. By working on their partner’s muscles they are passing the stress out of their body and into oblivion.

If this is a technique that you choose to try then you should make sure that you now some basic massage techniques. This will ensure that you do not end up hurting each other and creating more stress in the long run. Another form of stress relief technique is partner-assisted yoga. Yoga can stretch the body and help it to release some of the built up tension that it has been saving. Partner assisted yoga is great for those who are not quite as flexible as they would like. Done properly this can help you and your partner to greatly reduce your stress level.

Group Techniques

Today there has been a rise in the number of group based stress reduction techniques. One that has risen in popularity is the so called “hug party.” These parties consist of a group of people who gather together and concentrate on hugging each other and giving each other positive affirmations. While this may not be for some people others have found it a great way to share their burden of stress and let it all go.

Stress relief tips # 3. Try a repeat performance

Doing almost any routine, repetitive activity (like vacuuming, shredding paper or knitting), or reciting a word that represents how you wish you felt (such as calm) is a quick way to achieve a Zen-like state. Studies show the effects lower blood pressure and slow heart rate and breathing. The crucial elements are to focus on a word, your breathing or a movement and to bring your attention back to your task if your mind wanders or negative thoughts intrude.

Or look to your faith for a mantra: A recent study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that repeating phrases with spiritual meanings helped participants cope with a range of problems, from anxiety to insomnia.

Stress relief tips # 4. Remember the importance of hand washing.

When you're under pressure, you're more susceptible to cold viruses and other germs because your immune system is suppressed. Hand washing is your best defense. Lather up with soap and warm water for 10-20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.

As mentioned earlier, there are many different types of stress relief techniques available. Some of them you can practice on your own while others may require you to have a partner or a small group. Also, what works for some individuals may not necessarily work for others. The secret to stress reduction techniques is in finding what works for you and sticking with it.

We are living in a time starved, stress filled world. There’s no secret there. Most people are dealing with stress from so many avenues including work, family, relationship, friends and more. It’s important to be able to mitigate the stress in your life. Some people love yoga, massage and workouts to help reduce stress. Vacations, weekend getaways and long walks are also great ways to help relax body + mind.

Many people don’t have hours, days or even weeks to devote to stress reduction. We’ve put together a list of three stress reduction techniques that take less than 10 minutes and aren’t complicated to do. These techniques could be done at your office desk, on your couch, laying in bed or anytime you have a few extra minutes to spare.

1. Equal Breathing: Equal breathing can be done anywhere by anyone. It’s best done before bed to relax but can be performed anytime during the day. In addition, breathing through the nose for the inhale and exhale is best. How To – Breathe in for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts. Repeat this for 1 minute to 5 minutes.

2. Progressive Muscular Relaxation: This stress reduction technique is also great for everyone and can be done almost anywhere. The technique involves contracting and releasing muscles to help your whole body relax. Try closing your eyes while you practice this technique to help you relax even more. How To – Begin with calm, slow and steady breathing and continue this breathing during Progressive Muscular Relaxation. Start at your toes and feet, squeezing them tight for just a few seconds and then release focusing on the relaxing feeling you experience when you release the contraction.

Next, you’ll work your way up to the calves, thighs, gluts, hands, shoulders, neck, jaw and eyes. Repeat the process of contracting and tightening and then releasing after 2 – 3 seconds for each muscle group. Try inhaling or holding the breath during the contraction and exhaling when you relax the muscles. Make sure you don’t get dizzy. If you do, make sure not to hold your breath. This one may take a little more time than equal breathing but shouldn’t take you longer than just a few minutes. Feel free to repeat the process once or twice to totally relax.

3. 4 – 7 – 8 Breathing: This breathing technique is also easy. It’s geared for all levels and anyone who needs to relax for many reasons (situational stress, sleep issues, general stress reduction). How To – Breathe in for the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 8. Repeat 1 – 5 times.

Stress relief tips # 5. Turn on some tunes.

According to a recent study published in the British journal Heart, slow or meditative music is a proven stress buster, so set your dial to a soothing station during your commute. And, if you're stuck in a traffic jam, sneak in this quick exercise: Grab your steering wheel and clench the muscles in your fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Do this until your muscles begin to tremble (about 45 seconds), then release. You'll produce a wave of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers. Just make sure your foot is on the brake when you let go of the wheel!

Stress relief tips # 6. Take charge of your household budget

Limiting your cash withdrawals to once a week is a quick, easy way to monitor your spending habits. Multiple trips to the ATM make it harder to track your money. If you put yourself on an allowance and pay cash for everything, you're more aware of what you're spending and more careful about what you buy.

And while thinking about your finances may be enough to send you over the edge, it turns out that getting them under control eases tension in the long run. (Money and work tied for first place as the leading sources of stress, according to an APA survey.)

When you have a weekend afternoon free, try this take-control move: Write everything down, so you can see exactly where you stand financially--what you owe, the amount of interest, your monthly income, your budget. Not facing what you're up against creates even more stress, because it's always in the back of your mind. But once you have the information down, you can begin setting concrete goals using real figures. And taking action will make you feel so much better.

Try taking baby steps to incorporate some of these techniques into your lifestyle. Choose one technique to try once or twice per week and gradually try to increase the amount of times you practice stress reduction each week. Have fun with it and don’t place limits on yourself. If all you can get in is two or three minutes, then do what you can do. You’ll benefit from some stress reduction and mind body relaxation versus none.

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