Stress is a feeling that's created when we react to particular events. It's the body's way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.
The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations — everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester's worth of your toughest subject.
Stress Relief Tips 1. Blow it off. Since breathing comes naturally, deep breathing is often overlooked as an exercise, but it’s an excellent stress reducer. Breathe in while tucking in your tummy and feel the air as it expands your lungs and your chest. Breathe in to the count of four and hold it for two counts. Then exhale to the count of four. Take two to four deep breathes several times a day and soon daily stressors may well be “gone with the wind!”
- Get up and stretch. Visualize the stress flooding from your back, legs, your shoulders, and pour out of your fingertips and toes. Add to your stretches by taking the time to learn a few yoga positions, which you can find in books and videos as well as yoga classes.
- Take a short walk after lunch or in lieu of a coffee break. A brisk ten or fifteen minute walk each day is not only physically beneficial but transfers your focus from your problems to the scenery along your route, whether it’s the good-looking person in the hallway or the trees in the neighborhood park.
- Squeeze a lemon. P.T. Barnum said, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!” Squeezing a lemon or tennis ball is a good way to keep your fingernails from biting into your palms! If you crush the fruit or the tennis ball, either get a rubber ball or go on to a more vigorous exercise to reduce your stress!
- Progressive relaxation is especially beneficial when stress keeps your from getting a good night’s sleep. Start at your toes and “tell” them to relax. When you feel them relaxing move to your feet, ankles, calf muscles, knees, thighs and so on up your torso to your shoulders and finally to the top of your head or alternatively down through your arms to your fingertips (if you make it that far before you’re asleep!)
- Dance. Join an aerobics class, a tai chi class or just turn on the tunes and dance. Dancing has a double advantage in that along with exercise, music is a great stress reducer.
Stress Relief Exercise Stretching exercises stimulate receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones. Stretching exercises also relax tight, tense muscles and increase blood flow to the muscles. Yoga exercises involve the body, mind and spirit. Yoga poses improve flexibility and strength and incorporate breathing techniques that aid in relaxation and general wellness. Stress relief exercises that don't involve movement but involve both mind and body include meditation exercises and deep breathing exercises - both have been shown to reduce blood pressure. Though not generally as effective as aerobics for relieving stress, many people find that getting into a strengthening exercise program does relieve stress. Strength exercises are also important to prevent injury during aerobic exercise by strengthening the muscles that support your joints. A toned body has as much impact on mental wellness as physical wellness.
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