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10 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

10 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

Stress can appear in our lives at any time with varying levels of intensity. It could arise from a conversation you have or get triggered from an event that takes places. Stress can even emerge after a slow build up, with one event pushing you over the edge. No matter how it’s caused, the fact is consistent stress in our body is not only detrimental to our health; it’s also preventable and unnecessary.

Physiologically, stress exists as our body’s response to life threatening situations. When we feel endangered, our nervous system responds by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is our body’s way of protecting us through the “fight or flight” stress response. In emergency situations stress can help us stay alert, energetic, and give us superhuman strength to get out of danger.

Once the threatening event is over, our body is designed to return back to its natural calm and relaxed state. Although life-threatening situations are not as common in Western Society, what is common is for people to be constantly living in “flight or fight” mode. Staying in this mode over extended periods of time can cause health problems such as nervous system disorders and fatigue. This in turn can create ongoing anxiety as we are constantly on alert waiting for a crisis to happen at any time. For a lot of us, entering the office switches our body into a life-threatening state.

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Next time your chest gets tight or you feel overwhelmed, try these techniques for instant relief.

1. Focus on your breath.

Your thoughts are directly related to your breath. If you have a tight chest, worried thoughts, or feel anxious, chances are, you are breathing too fast or shallow. Slow down your breath to balance your mind by inhaling for a count of 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds.

2. Cool down.

Cooling down your mind and body re-balances your energy and allows you to take action from a more centered place. An ancient yogi technique to cool down your mind and body is shitali pranayam. Open your mouth slightly, curl your tongue and allow it to slightly protrude past your lips. Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. If you can’t curl your tongue, inhale through a round O mouth instead. Try this technique for 2–3 minutes.

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3. Pause.

If you react too soon during stressful situations, you may say or do things you later regret. Unless you are in an emergency situation, your response can often wait at least a few seconds. Transform the pattern of immediately responding to taking the time to pause, breathe, get calm, and gather yourself. Then respond verbally or by taking action.

4. Get out in nature.

Getting out in nature has an instant calming effect. Whether you choose to sit on a beach to hear the waves crash, walk through a lush green forest, listen to the sounds of a nearby waterfall or hike up mountains, just get yourself outside and allow nature to put everything back into perspective.

5. Mindfully exercise.

Exercise releases natural adrenaline and endorphins that make you feel good. Add more mindfulness to your workout by focusing intently on the activity you are doing. Observe your technique and how it makes you feel. Get connected to your body. This workout window allows you to get fit and even take a break from your stress. Head outside and run or cycle, hit the gym, or attend a yoga class. Working out during your lunch beak also allows you stay more focused and calm when you return to work.

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6. Take a cold shower.

Hydrotherapy is a precise and sophisticated science with a multitude of benefits for your body and mind. As well as reducing stress, cold showers open up your capillaries which when returned to normal push the blood back to your organs. This causes a flush effect in the heart, kidneys lungs and liver. This process stimulates the healthy secretion of the glandular system, which leaves your skin radiant and keeps your blood chemistry young healthy. Remember to start with outer extremities—feet, hands, and arms.

7. Put on relaxing music.

Everything is made up of energy including both our bodies and music. Music has the power to instantly transform your energy whether that’s by lifting you up or pulling you down. Choose music that is uplifting in tone, lyrics, and beat so your body’s energy can match this higher energy frequency. Positive music also helps create more positive thoughts.

8. Give gratitude.

Whatever you are stressed about is just a thought pattern or belief. You’re ultimately in control of your thoughts (even if it often doesn’t feel that way). Two people could be in exactly the same situation and only one could feel stressed because they have a negative thought pattern. So take a break from worry or panic and make a list of what you are grateful for in your life—whether that’s having a roof over your head, living in a nice city, having a vehicle that gives you freedom etc. List around 10 things.

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9. Visualize success.

Prevent your mind from imagining the “worst case scenario” or “what if” by visualizing and focusing your whole attention on what you want to bring into your life, not the fears of what you don’t want. Remember where your attention goes energy flows, which means you can’t afford to spend anytime engaged in picturing what you don’t want.

10. Drink a green smoothie.

Get a natural mental boost from the phytochemicals of green vegetables. Smoothies are a great way to gain all the nutrients from vegetables and fruit as all the content remains in the drink. Green smoothies can also help strengthen your immune system, eliminate unhealthy cravings (which can cause more stress), and give your brain more energy. Try kale, spinach, ginger, and lemon with a touch of banana and blueberries.

Featured photo credit: Matthew Wiebe via unsplash.com

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Kelly Weiss

Purpose-driven business + lifestyle coach

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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