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  • Linnette Johnson

Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of You

Incredibly, 75 to 90 percent of all doctors' office visits are related to stress-related conditions. Unchecked stress can wreak havoc on the body, and in chronic cases, it can lead to heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, mental disorders, digestive disorders, and even cancer. This is possible because chronic stress changes our hormones, which can cause an increase in inflammation, which is the root of many medical problems. We can’t always control the amount of stress that enters our lives, but we can change how we react to them. The human body is designed to respond to stress, but how we handle it causes the problem. With practice, we can learn how to release some of our stress through many productive measures.

Here are some ways: Exercise and Yoga Exercise is one of the best stress-relieving activities because it releases endorphins, the chemical in the brain that acts as the body’s natural painkiller. Exercise also helps to improve sleep, which in turn helps to relieve stress.

Meditation Meditation is proven to decrease stress, worry, and anxiety through a mindful practice of centered relaxation and breathing (breathing exercises below).

Nutrient-Dense Diet A diet rich in essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids, and antioxidants works to help your brain handle stress, which has the same effect on the entire body.

Time in Nature Spending time outside in nature has a calming effect on the mind and body and helps create a sense of well-being.

Breathing exercises have long been used for stress relief. Whether in the car, in a tense situation, or seated in a relaxed position in a quiet space, breathing exercises have an immediate effect.

Give these exercises a try: Pursed Lip Breathing Take a breath for about two counts. Then pucker your lips and exhale for four counts. Do this for a few rounds.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe deeply for about 2 seconds, your belly should stick out a bit. Feel the air expanding your stomach, and breathe slowly through the lips.

Yoga Breathing Place your right thumb over your right nostril as you breathe in through the left nostril. Then, place your right ring finger over your left nostril as you exhale from the right one. Then switch sides.

4-7-8 Inhale for a count of 4. Hold the breath in for seven counts, then release it in 8 counts, then repeat this at least three times.

Breath Counting Take a few deep breaths, then settle into a “normal” breathing pattern. When you exhale, count “one.” The next time, count “two.” Do this until you have exhaled (and counted, too) five, then start the pattern over.


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