Five Ways to De-Stress

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By Ali Wetherbee

Stress comes in many forms — home life, work, family, friends, drama, fun, finances, and more. Instead of focusing on the many burdens and challenges we each face, take some time to relax, unwind, and undo any damage all that stress may have done. Here are 5 ways to lower your stress level this month:

1. Exercise
Physical activity continues to be one of the top-recommended stress busters. It’s safe, and inexpensive, and improves not only stress and mood, but also overall health. If you haven’t been working out regularly or if the cold weather is driving you indoors, it may be hard to get into a good exercise routine. Try finding a workout buddy, setting some small goals, and choosing a form of exercise that you enjoy. These things will keep you more motivated to get moving.

2. Meditate
Meditation comes in many different forms; it doesn’t necessarily require you to sit silently with your eyes closed for hours on end. A quiet walk through the woods, during which you take time to notice everything you see, hear, and smell, can be both meditative and restorative. If you are new to meditating, a guided meditation can help you stay focused on relaxing. Those with anxiety or trouble staying still and quiet might find that yoga is a more appealing form of meditation.

3. Help Your Body Adapt
These supplements support our bodies in handling all kinds of stress. Adaptogenic herbs bring all systems of the body back into balance, lowering cortisol levels and regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, hormones, and cholesterol. Taking one or several of these adaptogens is a very simple step toward healing your body and feeling more at ease.

4. Don’t Forget to Breathe
When we are anxious or tense, we are more likely to either hold our breath or hyperventilate. This keeps the entire body on alert and in a state of non-stop stress. To correct this problem, practice deep breathing from the abdomen. One method many find helpful is 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4; hold this breath for 7 seconds. Then exhale through your mouth with a whooshing sound, for a count of 8.

5. Engage In Meaningful Activities
Sure, many of us find ourselves always busy and constantly in motion, but how many of those activities bring you true joy and a sense of peace? How many of them leave you feeling deeply fulfilled and socially connected? Often we get so caught up in obligations that we forget to take time to do the things we really love. A long chat with a dear friend over a cup of coffee, or an afternoon of digging in the dirt can help you leave your tensions behind. Commit to spending an hour this week enjoying your favorite hobby — whether that’s hiking a mountain, drawing, dancing, or playing an instrument.

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