Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Relaxation Tips That Relieve Stress

The body’s natural relaxation response is a powerful antidote to stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help you activate this relaxation response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. What’s more, they also serve a protective quality by teaching you how to stay calm and collected in the face of life’s curveballs.

One of the best ways to deal with a stressful situation, especially if the stress is caused by something you have no control over, is to not think about it. And one of the easiest ways to get your mind off things that are bothering you is to read a good book.

You can read the latest best seller that you've been looking forward to. Or, if you don't think you will be able to concentrate on anything new, choose an old favorite that you're already familiar with.

If you're thinking meditation means twisting your body into an uncomfortable position and uttering "oohs" and "omms" for an hour, guess again. Any repetitive action can be a source of meditation, says Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response anddirector emeritus, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. This includes walking, swimming, painting, knitting -- any activity that helps keep your attention calmly in the present moment.

When you catch yourself thinking about your job, your relationship or your lifelong to-do list, experts say to simply let the thought escape, and bring your mind back the repetition of the activity. Try it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day and watch stress levels drop.

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