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Five things you're missing that keep you stressed out

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Have you been stressed out by your work, the economy or some other issue? Maybe all your news is good but even positive changes can have the same effects on your body as stress we perceive as negative. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to focus on these tips that most people forget:

Take a deep breath. It sounds cliché, but it’s true: deep breathing soothes the central nervous system and oxygenates the blood, making you feel calmer and think more clearly. Find a quiet place for even five short minutes. Sit up straight, but without being rigid; close your eyes, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose, lasting for five counts each, then make your exhalation the same pace and length. Feel your chest and stomach expand and relax with each breath.

Check out your lunchbox. When we are feeling crunched for time and low on energy, it’s easy to head for the vending machine’s sugary snacks. Having a protein-packed bite instead will keep your blood sugar levels more constant, and will help you maintain a calm frame of mind. Try on-the-go snacks like yogurt, a small bit of cheese, or a banana with nut butter.

Accentuate the positive! One of the best ways to work out of a bad mood or rushed feeling is to remember a few things that make you feel fortunate. You may feel grateful to have a terrific spouse or child, great work skills, a new outfit, a good job in a frightening economy, or a friend who makes you laugh. Whatever makes you say “thanks” is worth considering, and consciously remembering the fullness in each of our lives can be powerful encouragement.

Get some fresh air. You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating. Even in the most hectic day or in the harshest weather, we can find ten minutes to walk outside. Look up at the sky, breathe in the fresh air, and take a look around. Combine this with the deep breathing and gratitude exercises above, and you’ve got a fast, easy, free stress break!

Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember the ultimate reason you are doing what makes you feel stressed. Perhaps you're in a particular job to support a family, to support yourself financially, or for your own professional growth. Maybe you're stuck in traffic because it's important that you visit an elderly relative regularly before it's too late. When our days get crazy, it grounds us when we think about the “big picture.”

The happiest people in the world know a valuable secret: we can’t be totally happy all the time, so it’s best to enjoy it when we are. Spring is a great time for new beginnings – but every moment of every day offers the opportunity to begin something new, try again, or just revisit what worked before.

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