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Quick Stress Relief

By Elaine Pomfrey

Some days, life is tough. The phones are ringing off the hook. Your presentation is due in thirty minutes. And you've got a million things on your plate after that. You know you should be calm, cool and collected, but you're ready to scream.

Left untended, stress accumulates. Pretty soon you are snapping at your boss or at your computer. In fact, a recent poll in Great Britain found that 75% of the participants had smacked their computers in anger. When stressed, you may have a headache, stomach ache or notice your heart pounding. If you are stressed out day after day, more serious health problems may develop like heart disease, depression and insomnia to name a few.

How to relieve stress quickly? Try one of these techniques:

1) First, remember that stress is not something outside of you.

Rather it is how you respond to events that determine whether they are stressful or not. Hans Selye, the Canadian endocrinologist who coined the word, "stress," stated, "It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” Decide whether you want to remain overshadowed by the situation or take concrete steps to respond to it.

2) waterHydrate

If angry or frustrated, a full glass of water will cool you right down. If anxious or nervous, sip on hot water to calm you. Most people are not in touch with their sense of thirst and therefore drink less than they need. Dehydration can aggravate stressful feelings. The body requires about two liters of fluid daily to maintain normal functioning. Why? Because it loses that much fluid each day through perspiration and other bodily functions.

3) Check the body

Are you hungry, sleepy or do you need a bio-break? Resisting natural urges such as the need to eat, sleep or use the restroom creates stress in the body. This physical stress leads to emotional stress. Taking a short break to munch on something or to walk down the hall to the bathroom refreshes the body and reduces stress immediately.

4) Take three deep breaths

When you are stressed, your breath tends to be shallower. Pause for a few moments and take the deepest breath you can. Inhale slowly through your nose with your mouth closed. Your chest should rise as the oxygen fills your lungs and oxygenates your blood. Exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat at least three times before returning to the task at hand.

5) Go outside

parkSunshine decreases the symptoms of depression. Even if it's cloudy, a deep breath of fresh air will replenish your cells with oxygen and release endorphins. Locate a natural scene like a park or garden in which to de-stress for a few minutes. However, if you can't escape outdoors, research has found that even viewing nature through a window calms the mind. In a study funded by the National Science Foundation, people who observed nature through a window recovered more quickly from stress than those who observed a natural scene on a high definition plasma screen.



6) Exercise

Start moving. Ideally go outside and try a few jumping jacks, but if you can't flee the indoors, then impress your co-workers with desk yoga or walk around the office. An expert from the American College of Sports Medicine, Christina Geithner, Ph.D., affirms, "Exercise serves as a distraction from the stressor, and results in reduced muscle tension and cortisol secretion."

7) Talk to a friend

Call someone who cares about you. Sometimes just venting a bit blows off some steam. Of course, indulging in negativity increases stress so limit yourself. It's important to have a network of friends you can tap into when needed. It can give you a sense of belonging and feeling of security that help guide you through any crisis.

8) Distract yourself

Taking your mind off a stressful situation for even a few minutes relieves the pressure. If you can find something funny, so much the better because laughter decreases stress hormones in the body and increases endorphins. Pop some virtual bubble-wrap or play Scrabble Sprint in your Web browser.

The best tip for dealing with stress is to prevent it. Avert the danger before it arises by learning a stress-management technique now to increase your ability to deal with tense situations. The Transcendental Meditation technique is an excellent choice because research has proven it to be more effective at reducing anxiety than other relaxation techniques. It provides deep rest to the body allowing it to dissolve accumulated stress. Meditating twice a day using the Transcendental Meditation technique decreases cortisol, a stress hormone. Research also suggests that TM practice reduces stress-related disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression, disorders related to high levels of stress.

Additional resources on stress reduction for your reference:

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