Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Health

Fight stress with stretching, exercise, deep breathing

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Have you ever thought of having a de-stressing plan? Stress seems to attack all of us in some shape or form, whether it's work deadlines, family issues or just dealing with traffic. Most of the stress we deal with is short-lived, but when it continues to hang around and develop into chronic stress, those stress hormones can negatively impact our physical health. The continual "hanging around" feelings can bring on high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, insomnia and muscle tightness, and they can even lower your immune system.

Here are a few ways to help you avoid or deal with those nasty stress encounters:

Shake it off: One of the best and quickest ways to relieve stress is by activating those endorphins through movement. And here you have many choices, one of which is simply self-expression through dancing, often called meditation in motion. You don't follow any programmed routine, you just turn on some music, relax your knees and begin to move your whole body for five or 10 minutes. Stop and be aware of your breathing, then repeat for another "session." And remember: All forms of exercise will help to relieve tension and anxiety, even a quick walk around the block.

Breathe: While we do it every day, be aware that taking time out to breathe slowly and deeply offers stress-relieving benefits by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. Any form of deep breathing can help you relax and lead you into the calm zone, so take a five-minute break, sit up straight, close your eyes and inhale through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth or nose. You might want to try inhaling while you are counting upward and exhaling while counting downward.

Stretch it out: When the body feels the impact of tension, generally the shoulders, lower back and neck seem to be targeted. Stretching a tight muscle for 20 or 30 seconds can relieve that tension by increasing the circulation, which helps the muscle to relax. Stretching also slows you down, enabling you to be in the moment, which helps you to focus and concentrate.

Yoga and tai chi: While yoga and tai chi may differ in some ways, they both have stress-releasing benefits by offering meditation, exercise and breathing techniques.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at [email protected]

 
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