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Stress-reducing techniques for "those" days

All businesswomen have one of "those" days.  The kids missed the school bus, the dog ran away again, the significant other can't find his tie, the best friend needs a shoulder to cry on, the boss wants your report "five minutes ago", the client wants you to make changes to the project after he approved of it yesterday--all in the same hour.

Jenny Stamos Kovacs, writing on WebMD.com, said that while "some stress is good for you--it can sharpen your senses and your mind--too much stress is bad for your mental and physical health."  Relaxation, on the other hand, can "restore balance in your life--and may even reduce some of the health risks associated with stress."

Kovacs lists ten "on-the-spot" relaxation techniques to de-stress.  The first four require having someone or something nearby:

  • Meditate by doing any repetative action, such as knitting, swimming, walking or painting to keep the mind in the present.
  • Drink hot tea.  Chamomile or green tea is best but "regular" black tea can also be calming by reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Be social.  Hug a loved one, cuddle a pet or talk about the good times with a friend.  It reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure and makes the brain think better.
  • Listen to relaxing music to slow down the heartbeat.  Tuning in to classical music can soothe the soul.

And if there isn't a knitting project, a tea kettle, a puppy or a radio nearby, these last six techniques can be done alone:

  • Visualize something that gives you pleasure, like a favorite vacation spot or a cozy wool sweater, to create a sense of calm.
  • Breathe deeply.  Let out a sigh and focus on the low belly.  Inhale, feeling the body expand; then exhale sighing, feeling the body contract.  Repeat 10 times.
  • Practice mindfulness.  Focus on what is going on in the present, and on one task at a time.
  • Try self-massage.  Put hands on the neck and shoulders and squeeze them and then rub vigorously.  Massage the forearms with the opposite hands, squeezing them with the thumb and fingers and going up and down from elbow to fingertips.
  • Take a time-out in times of great stress.  Find a quiet place to sit, take a few deep breaths and concentrate on calming the heartbeat and releasing tension.
  • Have a change of  attitude by engaging in positive thinking.  Thirty minutes of focusing on something good in life, like a loved one or treasured object, helps relax tense muscles and creates feelings of peace.

These ten stress-busting techniques do work--but only if they're actually done.

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