Ten Tension-Taming Tips to Try

Some stress can actually motivate you meet a challenge or accomplish a particular goal. But chronic stress can have detrimental consequences, both emotionally and physically. So it's important to protect yourself from those chronic stressors that never seem to go away. Here are ten simple and inexpensive ways to reduce stress and rejuvenate yourself.

  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
    Strawberries not only taste great, but they are also good for you. They are free of saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium, naturally sweet, and low in calories. The fragrantly sweet juiciness and deep red color of strawberries make for a relaxing moment of chocolate-covered bliss. Choose a really good dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cacao, so as to reap the benefits of its antioxidants. Recent studies indicate that the flavonoids in chocolate can help reduce high blood pressure and decrease the risk for heart disease. So not only will it boost your mood, but it should set your mind at ease knowing that you are eating something good for you as well.

  • Have a Hot Bath
    Sinking into a hot bath can instantly help you unwind at the end of a difficult, stressful day. You may want to consider adding essential oils to your bath to enhance the calming effect of the bath. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy suggests these essential oils for relaxation: chamomile, geranium, lavender, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, sage and ylang-ylang. When choosing essential oils, it is best to consult with a trained aromatherapy professional. If you are pregnant, are receiving cancer treatment, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or skin sensitivities, talk to your Health Expert before putting anything in your bath water.

  • Meditation Dedication
    According to the National Institutes of Health, Americans are using meditation to treat anxiety, depression and stress-related health problems. Clearing your mind and soul through meditation reduces stress by encouraging deep breathing and slowing your heart rate.

  • Sip a Spot of Tea
    Herbal teas have been used medicinally for centuries to people relax. Chamomile, in particular, is known for its soothing effects. Tea is second only to water as the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Green, black, and red teas all contain health-promoting antioxidants, so enjoy it with your chocolate covered strawberries for a tension tamer that's good for you too.

  • Soothe the Savage Beast
    Burn a CD or create a playlist on your iPod that contains only your favorite soothing songs. Classical, jazz or easy listening are obvious choices, but the type of music doesn't really matter. To make it truly relaxing you will have to choose whatever works for you. Listen to your ultimate mix anytime you are feeling stressed or first thing in the morning to keep it at bay.

  • Stop and Smell the Flowers
    There are tons of scented essential oils, sprays, incense and candles out there designed to make you relax. Lavender is the most widely noted scent for relaxation. According to Tim Blakley, aromatherapy author and educator, pure lavender essential oils offer benefits for the body, mind and spirit. "Lavender provides a calming and soothing effect that can help relax the user. It's also emotionally uplifting and stimulating if one is feeling overwhelmed, irritable or distracted," he explains. But you will find that just about anything that smells good to you can help you relax. You could try perfume, fresh-cut flowers or food aromas. Try to keep your scents in places where you experience stress, such as at your desk or in your car.

  • Take a Break from Reality
    Sometimes you really need to take a break from the stressors of reality. Losing yourself in a movie or a good book can keep your mind off of your troubles. That break can give help you refocus on what's important, and will usually make whatever is stressing you seem much more manageable.

  • Touch Therapy
    Therapeutic treatments or "touch therapies," such as acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage can relieve pain when you ache or feel tense. Deep-tissue massage and acupuncture are particularly helpful in reducing stress and achieving relaxation. Touch therapies also help fulfill the need to be physically comforted. Research shows that physical contact lowers the risk for depression and the ill effects of stress.

  • Walk in the Park
    Have you noticed that many relaxation CDs include the sounds of nature? It's because nature will rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. To relax in nature, try walking in the park, hiking in the woods or laying on the beach.

  • Work it Out
    Exercise lessens your tension by loosening up your body. It gets your endorphins flowing and makes you feel great. Try joining a gym, or look for a yoga, dance, aerobics or dance class. Not only will it help with stress, but it will also be good for your body.

We discuss stress relief in more detail in The Program for Heart Health. Download it now and take a nice, relaxed look at Chapter 8 today.

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