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Stress and anxiety can be very detrimental to your overall health. Here are eight healthy ways to help you relax and reduce tensions.

Exercise – Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. It won’t make your stress disappear, but being active can definitely boost your
“feel-good” endorphins and release some of that muscular tension. So whether your exercise of choice is lifting weights, yoga, running, swimming, or even just 15 minutes of brisk walking, you will find that whatever was bothering you is slightly less stressful afterward. The results are energy, optimism, calm mind.

Connect with people – A good support network of colleagues, friends, and family can ease your troubles or help you gain a new perspective. The activities we do with friends help us relax and we often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever!

Avoid unhealthy coping habits – Relying on alcohol, smoking, or caffeine as a coping tool is a recipe for disaster. These things may seem like they are relieving stress, but the effect is only temporary and eventually they will create new problems. Instead, drink plenty of water and eat balanced, nutritious meals. Hunger and dehydration provokes anxiety and stress. So stay hydrated and always keep your blood sugar balanced.

Balance blood sugar – If you eat a diet high in sugar and/or carbohydrates, the body secretes insulin to manage the high blood sugar levels. You will feel a temporary burst of energy, but once that sugar is all packaged away, you will feel tired and hungry again.To avoid this blood sugar roller coaster, eat a diet that is high in quality protein, healthy fat, and high fiber vegetables. Work on cutting out high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates.

Gratitude – Look for positives in life and things for which you are grateful. Write down three things at the end of everyday that you are grateful for. People don’t always appreciate what they have. Make a conscious effort and train yourself to see all the amazing things going well
for you rather than focusing on what’s going wrong. Change your perspective and you will be able to see your situation from a more positive point of view.

Recharge – Rewards like taking a hot bath, getting a massage, or reading a good book for half an hour will help you to unwind and recharge your battery. So prioritize some “me” time everyday. Briefly put aside work, housekeeping, and family concerns. Don’t spend this time planning for the next day or doing house chores. Remember you need time to recharge and energize yourself. You will be much more relaxed and ready to face the next challenge.

Get on a regular sleep schedule – Sleep is necessary to replenish energy. We all need six to nine hours of sleep for our bodies to function properly. But did you know that too much variation in the time you go to bed and wake up each day can also be a stressor on the body? Keep your circadian rhythm regular by going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday. Yes, weekends too!

Learn to say no – Don’t over schedule your life. Most of us have busy lives and on top of that we feel the need to say “yes’ to every offer or opportunity we get. Being busy has become a new trendy status. But its not cool!  You need to learn how to say “no” and take time for yourself. When I work with clients I always have them practice what I call the art of saying “no.” Try it out this week. Practice saying no to extra things you know you don’t want to do and see how good it feels. While it can make you anxious to turn people down, what you may notice is that no one cares as much as you think they will when you finally tell them “no.”

Practice Deep Breathing and/or Meditation – Mental and emotional stress has become so common that most of us don’t even realize we are stressed. Ongoing stress is problematic since our nervous system does not differentiate between road rage and being chased by a real tiger.  Being a busy, go-go-go person who never slows down or takes a moment to breathe means your body does not digest, detoxify or absorb important nutrients.  The easiest way to mitigate a chronic stress response is to learn how to deep breathe. You can practice deep breathing to deal with a stressful situation or just as a daily practice.  Breathe in deeply through your nose, into your belly and breathe out slowly through your nose or mouth.

These simple steps will have a profound effect on lessening your feelings of stress.