Stress Relief Tips

Health, Home & Family
on September 12, 2011

Are you stressed-out and too busy to notice? If you feel like you’re always rushed, never get a break, don’t have enough time, and are dissatisfied with your relationships, chances are you’re stressed, says Fred Luskin, a psychologist in Palo Alto, Calif., and author of Stress Free for Good.

“Stress has become so normal that most people don’t even recognize it,” Luskin says. Stress also can manifest as physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and chest or back pains.

Though people often believe they’re too busy to reduce their stress level, it’s important—and possible—to practice stress management. Managing stress preserves the body’s nervous system, reduces disease-causing inflammation, and creates a sense of confidence and hope that you can handle life, Luskin says. He suggests the following stress relief techniques. “Any of them will work at any moment,” he says.

Slow down. “Whatever you’re doing—whether you’re combing your hair or taking a walk—just slow it down and pay more attention to what you’re doing,” says Luskin, noting that decelerating the pace of everyday activities is the easiest way to relieve stress.

Breathe deeply. When people are stressed they tend to breathe tensely and shallowly. Slowing down and breathing more deeply can “reset” your nervous system, producing a sense of calm. “The very act of breathing more deeply into one’s belly will reduce stress instantly,” Luskin says. The technique is simple: Breathe in a little more deeply and expand your belly when you inhale.

Practice gratitude. “Think of things you’re grateful for. Think of positiveness, not just negativeness,” Luskin says. Expressing gratitude can have multiple benefits, including improved mood and better physical health.