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    30 Best Stress Relievers

    stressed-man-300x220With the everyday stresses from work, parenting and budgeting finances, it’s no surprise that stress has been directly linked to causing heart disease, high blood pressure and decreased immunity. In a survey conducted by the American Institute of Stress, about 75-90 percent of all visits to general physicians are for stress-related problems. While it is difficult to avoid stress altogether, there are several ways to relieve stress and manage it through simple and often free practices that can be done at home and work.

    Meditation is a discipline that puts the mind into a deep state of relaxation, through specific breathing techniques, a heightened sense of awareness and an increased state of consciousness. Meditation can be done in many places, as long as you are able to free your mind of outside distractions. There are endless health benefits of meditative practices, such as stress relief, relaxation and lowered blood pressure. Meditating can be difficult to grasp at first, but through careful concentration and practicing breathing techniques, you too can achieve a sense of awareness and stress-free thinking.

    It may seem like an obvious stress reliever, but many people let exercise fall to the wayside when they are under stress. While a lack of sleep, poor diet and low energy levels can make exercise seem unappealing, exercise plays a big part in your mood, productivity and level of stress. From running, swimming, weight-lifting and walking, all types of exercise are good for your body, health and mind.

    Yoga is a physical and mental discipline that involves meditation, stretches and poses that work both your body and mind. Stemming from India, yoga has transformed into a challenging exercise that increases flexibility and muscle strength, as well as a heightened sense of self-awareness and consciousness. People who do yoga become more limber, as well as experience increased relaxation and decreased levels of stress. While it is commonly taught by an experienced instructor, there are several free online instruction videos and guides on to introduce you to the exercise.

    Sleep may not always be an option for someone under a lot of stress, but it is one of the best ways to combat stress and let your body recharge. Sleep allows the body to repair muscles, maintain immunity and be productive. When sleep isn’t present, people may experience stress from their physical and mental state. If a good night’s rest is not in the cards for you, there’s always napping, which provides increased energy, alertness and lets you catch up on missed sleep. To ensure maximum stress relief from sleep, you need to exercise, maintain a healthy diet and practice deep breathing exercises.

    Deep Breathing Exercises
    While you can’t always control stressors, you can learn how to control and regulate your breathing. Thankfully, there are various ways to exercise your breathing to achieve deep relaxation, reduce stress and release endorphins. Learning how to stimulate, relax and count your breathe, like
    the breathing exercises taught by Dr. Weil, will help increase energy levels, alertness and help manage stress-related health problems.

    Whether it’s classical, jazz or soft rock tunes, listening to and playing music is a popular way to relieve stress. Music has the power to slow one’s heart rate and pulse, lower blood pressure, as well provide a distraction that allows listeners to escape, or become focused on something other than what’s stressing them out. Not only is music so portable, but a little can go a long way. Make a feel-good CD for your car ride to work, listen to it when working out and meditating, or listen at work to block out sounds and added stressors.

    From painting, drawing to sculpting, art is another therapeutic activity for tackling stress. Like music, art provides a means for escape, concentration and personal expression. Creating artwork allows people to explore their creativity, utilize their senses and provides a calming balance to a hectic day. You can also transfer negative energy, by using your frustrations and emotions as inspiration for your artwork. Viewing art also relieves stress because it calms the mind and muscles, provides a distraction and allows you to focus on something aesthetically pleasing for a bit.

    While cooking may be a stressful endeavor for some, it is also a major stress reliever for others. Cooking is like a project that involves planning, experimentation and results. Whether you’re baking, preparing dinner or assisting in the kitchen, cooking allows people to improvise and focus on a different kind of task. In addition to the actual act of cooking, people will gain satisfaction from providing nourishment for their bodies and creating a meal on their own.

    Massage is often regarded as one of the most effective stress relievers, because it loosens tense muscles, cleanses your body of toxins and prevents injury. Massages are typically done by professional massage therapists at spas, gyms and clinics, but you can also do them at home for free. Whether you receive a massage from your significant other, friend or give yourself one, you are certain to relieve stress through deep relaxation, loosened muscles and a replenished mind set.

    There are many health benefits of sex, including stress relief. From the physical act of lovemaking to the emotional connection between partners, sex allows people to experience pleasure and free their mind of worries. High levels of stress can decrease libido in men and women, so it is important to practice other stress relievers in order to get the most from your sex life.

    Stretching is another great way to decrease stress levels through concentrated movements that target muscles. Stretching exercises can be done at home, the office and even in your car to ease muscle tension and pain. Stretching is easy to incorporate into your daily schedule, and offers a simple way to prevent injury, loosen tight muscles and joint, as well as exercise.

    While some enjoy writing or reading during stressful times, others like to talk about their stress to friends, family, coworkers and counselors. Venting out loud about stressors and personal issues can help alleviate built-up emotions associated with stress, as well as help guide you toward a realistic stress management plan. Not to mention, talking to others about their lives and interests can be a healthy distraction for yours.

    Stress-Busting Foods
    For many, food is comforting during stressful times, but is it healthy? There are several types of food that are not only packed with vitamins and nutrients, but they also boost serotonin levels, which regulate mood, sleep and other basic functions. For example, berries, mixed nuts and dark chocolate are healthy snacks that provide nutritional value and stress-relieving benefits. Dr. Oz, a cardiac surgeon, author and TV show host, challenges his followers to a stress reducing plan that includes eating delicious stress-busting foods.

    Laughter is truly the best medicine for stress relief. Whether you watch a movie, hear a joke or laugh at yourself, the act of . According to MayoClinic, laughing plays a major role in activating and relieving stress responses, which results in a relaxed, stress-free feeling. For a good laugh at work or when you’re by yourself, check out funny Web sites, cartoons and jokes to liven your mood and relax your mind.

    Nothing says relaxation like vacation. If the opportunity arises to take a trip, you should go for both pleasure and stress management reasons. Vacations let you mind and body escape from the daily routines and stressors that affect your mood and state of health. No matter how or where you spend your vacation, you are sure to experience heightened levels of relaxation and enjoyment. While vacations don’t last forever, they do provide a mental and physical break from stress and allow you to return back to work (and reality) refreshed and satisfied.

    Kids aren’t the only ones who journal their thoughts and feelings — adults do it too. Writing is a cathartic activity for people to vent their thoughts, feelings and goals. Whether you prefer a diary, blogs or loose papers, all variations of journaling allow people to relieve stress by writing, evaluating and reflecting on their day. Journaling also serves as a record for detecting stress patterns, and a means to implement stress management techniques.

    Along with writing, reading is another form of stress relief. Avid and sporadic readers alike can benefit from reading to relax their mind, use their imagination and adopt new ideas, skills and vocabulary. Reading is also one of the best ways to escape from the doldrums of day-to-day life, and serves as a positive distraction to a stressful state of mind. For those who suffer from high levels of stress, may benefit greatly from reading self-help books and positive reading materials that will boost their spirits and help manage their stressors.

    A mantra is a sound, syllable, word or phrase that comes from a sacred language or religion, which is spoken for the purpose of stress relief, relaxation and managing fears. This customary practice can be incorporated into yoga and other meditative activities to further your self-awareness and level of consciousness.

    From cats, dogs, birds and hamsters, animals are not only great companions, but also major stress relievers. Playing, petting and exercising with animals will make them happy, as well as reduce your level of stress and lower your blood pressure. Although not everyone is suited to care for a pet, you can always pet sit, go to a dog park or play with friends’ animals to get your dose of animal time and stress-free fun.

    An easy way to avoid stress is to plan and stay organized. If you generate a plan, make a to-do list or make prior arrangements, you will be more likely stick to the plan, which will help alleviate stress. In addition to planning, having an organized house, workplace and daily schedule will help you achieve specific goals and avoid unnecessary stress from misplacing or losing items in a mess. Planning and staying organized does take a considerable amount of effort, but having the tools to do so and make your life easier will help in the long run.

    Stress Toys
    Stress-relieving toys come in a number of whacky shapes and colors, but they do serve a useful purpose — to alleviate stress. The act of squeezing and releasing stress toys creates resistance that works the muscles in the hands and wrists. By working tense muscles, you can alleviate stress and bring a sense of clarity and relaxation to a stressed mind.

    Muscular Relaxation
    Muscular relaxation is a progressing technique of alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles. This can be done in the arms, legs, abdomen, chest and other areas to relieve pain and anxiety caused by stress. Much like stretching, exercising and deep breathing, muscular relaxation involves pinpointing areas that cause stress-related pain, so that you can return to a normal physical and mental state.

    Self Hypnosis
    Self hypnosis is a great stress management tool that uses meditative, self-relaxation techniques to reach a positive, relaxed state of mind. Hypnotizing yourself requires patience, concentration and commitment to achieve positive results. When successfully relaxed and free of stressful thoughts, self hypnosis can lower stress hormones, distract your mind and build confidence about your life and handling stressful situations.

    Visual Imagery
    Visual imagery involves using your imagination, memory and senses to produce a mental image or story. By doing this mentally stimulating activity, you will not only experience an escape from reality, but you’ll also reach a level of deep relaxation and pleasure from stress-free thoughts.

    The wise-old medical practice of acupuncture has served as a
    stress-relieving procedure for thousands of years. Acupuncture typically involves penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles to alleviate pressure that causes pain and discomfort. By eliminating pressure and pain, patients will experience less stress associated with these ailments.

    Volunteering often brings satisfaction and joy to a person’s life, but it can also serve as an effective stress reliever. Whether it’s the act of giving back to the community, bringing happiness to another person’s life or the personal sacrifice of your time and energy, people tend to feel grateful and at peace with themselves after volunteering. The labor and energy it takes to do volunteer work can also be a big stress reliever.

    Aromatherapy is a stress-relieving practice of using plant and essential oils to foster psychological and physical well-being. These oils can come in their natural form or be processed into products and lotions that are often used in massages and therapeutic sessions. Many of these natural oils produce relaxing side effects, aid in sleep and serve in the treatment or prevention of disease. Most importantly, these oils will bring you to a relaxed state of mind and free of stress.

    When times are tough and you’re under serious stress, there’s nothing better to turn to than a beloved hobby. Hobbies allow people to escape from stressful situations and focus on something they genuinely enjoy. Whether it’s fishing, sewing or playing an instrument, hobbies are a quick-fix to a stressful day. Hobbies can be done alone or shared with others. No matter the activity, hobbies are a great way to stimulate your mind and concentrate on something different.

    For women and men alike, shopping is an activity that brings great satisfaction and enjoyment to many people. It’s important to note that spending gobs of money and creating debt are not therapeutic activities, but walking, window shopping, talking and browsing new styles can stimulate your mind, work muscles, increase math skills and enhance creativity. For a truly stress-free shopping experience, it’s best to avoid busy shopping days and large crowds, which can cause unwanted stress.

    Punching/Speed Bags
    Sometimes the only way to relieve stress is to take it out on something (not someone), and in this case a punching or speed bag is the perfect choice. Punching bags are typically large, hanging bags that are meant to be, well, punched. Speed bags are smaller and can be hit at a faster pace. Whatever your preference, both punching and speed bags serve a useful purpose for letting out steam and relieving stress. The endorphins released during a punching bag workout will lift your spirits and free your mind.

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