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12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

12 Actionable Tips To De-Stress And Feel Happier Right Now

If you clicked on this article you probably feel stressed right now. There are many things that make us feel anxious – an awkward conversation with the boss, family issues or a fight with your partner.The good news is that you can instantly fight back the “S Word” with these simple tips to destress. Take a deep breath. Ready? Now relax!

1. Go for a walk

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    Yes, it’s as simple as that. Ten minutes outside will help you clear your mind and boost endorphins – a powerful antidote to stress hormones. Have a stroll in a park, go out to the garden and plan an escape into the wood on the weekends. Nature is one of the most powerful (and free!) stress-relievers out there as a recent study proved. If you cannot step outside right now, find a window with a view on something leafy and green and take your “zen” moment. Solely visual encounters with nature, as well, have actionable positive influences on your psychological and physiological states.

    2. Buy a plant

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      Did you know that a small pot on your desk can actually help you to calm down? A research conducted by Washington State University proved that being around plants drastically reduces anxiety and drops blood pressure. For an easier breathe, get a snake plant for your office. It absorbs carbon dioxide during the day and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do it vice versa), so that your morning begins with clean-air boost to kick-start your productivity. Or a spider plant – still one of the most effective air-purifying plants according the NASA study in late 80s. It consumes and transforms harmful pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and more, thus making us healthier and more content.

      3. Do a quick breathing exercise

      One of the oldest techniques discovered nearly 3000 years from Ayurveda practices is gaining control of your “pranayama” – the life force or simply, your breath. Deep breathing stimulates parasympathetic reactions in our body, which helps us to relieve the tension and calm down. Shallow quick breathing does not allow our body to get enough oxygen and is considered as a “fight or flight” reaction by our brains, thus provoking stress. According to Herbert Benson, a researcher from Harvard, short periods of meditation, using breathing as a focus, can significantly alter the body’s stress response and even change the expression of some genes. Here are a few simple techniques to try:

      • Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”: deeply inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. All through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Keep the focus on the same thought while doing the exercise.
      • Kapalabhati or “Skull Shining Breath”: start with a long, slow inhale, followed by a rapid, powerful exhale coming from the lower belly. Once you feel more comfortable with the contraction, speed up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.

      4. Chew a gum

      Feeling overwhelmed with ongoing tasks? Chew a gum to stay focused and reduce your anxiety. According to Andrew Scholey from Swinburne University in Melbourne, using a chewing gum while balancing numerous tasks improves overall attentiveness and effectiveness. During the research gum-chewers performed 67% better on multi-tasks and showed a reduction in anxiety by 17% during mild stress and 10% in moderate stress situations compared to non-chewers.

      5. Squeeze out a smile

      Even a phony fake smile will reduce your stress levels according to the “facial feedback” theory of emotion. Our brains constantly analyze changes in our body from posture and muscle pressure to facial expression, thus judging how you actually feel right now.  In simple words if you act like a happy person, you’ll start feeling like one! Is there nothing to cheer you up right now? Place a pencil vertically between your teeth to mimic a genuine smile. As another research proved, participants who were holding a pencil vertically in their mouth felt less stressed when solving a mental challenge and reported to endure less pain while going through the pain induction.

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      6. Eat a banana, potato or an avocado

      Bananas

        All of them contain a lot of potassium – a property known to reduce blood pressure jumping sky high as you feel stressed. The also help your body to gain the necessary energy for recovery and even protect you from negative stress-related consequences like strokes and heart attacks.

        7. Listen to some music

        Music is known to have a lot of healing powers. It can reduce both the distress of chronic and postoperative pains; relieve depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people; reduce burnouts and improve the mood among pressured nursing students. It even makes patients less anxious and stressed before surgery. Classical music has a particularly soothing effect – it calms down the heart rate, cuts back the amount of stress hormones and reduces blood pressure. However, it could be any of your favorite songs to flood your brain with “the happiness hormone” – dopamine.

        8. Do progressive muscle relaxation exercises

        Researches have found that a series of simple progressive muscle relaxation exercises once a week significantly reduces blood pulse, pressure and overall anxiety even for people suffering clinical depression or other psychological disorders. Sit down, close your eyes and tighten your foot muscles (starting from toes) as much as you can. Than relax. Gradually make you way up tightening and relaxing each muscle until you’ve reached your forehead. The exercises works miracles when done with a soothing tune in your headphones.

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        9. Treat yourself with something sweet

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          Eat a candy or a piece of cookie (one piece!) as it is the fastest aid to reduce both psychological and physical stress. Sugar can decrease the production of glucocorticoid – a stress-related hormone linked to decreased immune response and obesity. And yes, that must be something really syrupy, not a low-calorie sugar-substantive variety.

          10. Create Cushions in Your Calendar

          Tight schedules and constant multi-tasking are one of the most common contributors to stress nowadays. When you have a lot of things to cross of your to-do list, you find yourself in a constant hurry, juggling a bunch of things at a time and not being properly focused on any of them. By creating cushions in your calendar you avoid stressful situations in the first place. Always leave enough time from you to reach from point A to point B despite any possible obstacles you may face. If you have an important meeting scheduled for 10 am, go out of home 30 min earlier than your usual time, so you could spend your commuting time calmly revising your notes, instead of rushing and stressing out due to heavy traffic.

          11. Use the Naam yoga hand trick

          Once you feel anxiety rising up, say during difficult negotiations, press a point between your second and third knuckles, just at the spot where your finger and hand meet. It will instantly make you feel calmer! Also, try moving your thumb down the middle finger toward your palm till you feel a soft, slightly indented spot. It should be on the inside of your finger of your palm. Applying medium pressure here will loosen the area around the heart and make your anxiety go away notes Sharon Melnick, author of the “Success Under Stress” program.

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          12. Stop Should-ing Yourself

          After all, we are our own worst enemies in terms of stress. How many times have you told yourself that you should go to that date (but you knew it’s going to be pathetic!), you should meet you old friend (though you had hardly anything in common as you grew up) or that you should go through with the wedding as all the invitation have been sent and tons of money spent? Those “should”s crush your soul and make you feel anxious about making life decisions. As Lissa Rankin, M.D states: “If you ignore the soul’s guidance, the soul may guide you through painful interventions, like loss or illness.” Stay true to yourself and listen to your heart more often! It does no harm to you.

          Featured photo credit: Young girl spreading hands with joy and inspiration facing the sun,sun greeting,freedom concept,bird flying above sign of freedom and liberty via shutterstock.com

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          Elena Prokopets

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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