Managing Stress

Whether you’re experiencing everyday stress or you’re sufering from prolonged stress caused by an ongoing circumstance in your life, one thing is certain — you need to help yourself relax! Thankfully, there are all kinds of relaxation techniques to counteract the stressors life throws at you.

To counteract more physical forms of stress, try this simple technique: Apply a warm heat wrap to your neck and shoulder area for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to relax the muscles in your face and throughout your upper body. Foam rollers can work wonders on highly stressed areas of the back and legs. Or, if you’ve got the time (and money), get the full decompression experience by visiting your local massage therapist.

Meditation is a powerful way to calm your heart rate, focus attention and increase awareness of potential sources of stress. Research has found that regular meditation can even change the structure of the brain and strengthen the hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial for memory and learning. The two most popular meditation techniques are mindfulness (being aware of any feelings, thoughts, ideas as they present themselves) and concentrative (disciplined focus on a mantra, a singular sound or image). Sit comfortably with eyes closed; best practices recommend staying engaged between 15 to 20 minutes, although newcomers may be challenged to do more than a few minutes. Start small, stay consistent, and don’t give up!

Getting the body moving and the blood flowing has been demonstrated to heighten mental stimulation and is one of the very best stress relievers. Try practices such as yoga to actively engage body and mind and increase flexibility and balance, effectively reducing stress levels. If all you have time for is a walk or a jog, take the opportunity to counteract the cortisol and enjoy the sense of well-being brought on by the presence of endorphins in the brain.