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5 ways to tell stress to take a hike

Yoga poses, stretches and breathing exercises come in handy when it’s time to relax or go to bed. Find a class that teaches stress-relief techniques you can use anytime, anywhere

Stress can put the brain in a fight-or-flight dilemma and cause memory loss, anxiety and depression. Reducing stress benefits the body and, therefore, is a big key to maintaining an overall healthy life.

Five easy ways to relieve daily stresses include:

1. Take a breath. Reducing your heart rate is one of the quickest ways to begin relaxation. Start by taking slow, deep breaths to lower rapid heart beats. Choose between diaphragmatic breathing (expanding the stomach to give lungs more oxygen), alternate-nostril breathing (using fingers to close one nostril to breath into the other, then switching) and bellow breathing (quickly inhaling and exhaling through the nose with a closed mouth for 15 seconds.) You will find yourself instantly relaxing.

2. Give yourself a pep talk. We’re quick to be positive for our loved ones when they need to be encouraged. You can apply the same approach when you’re feeling anxious by using similar phrases to reassure yourself. Say it out loud, too. Talking in your head won’t have as strong an effect.

3. Use natural stress relievers. Enjoy a bath, smell some lavender and get a massages. You can also eat dark chocolate, which is known to reduce stress hormones. Do some stretches or yoga poses to center your thoughts and slow your heart rate.

4. Separate worries from sleep. If worries about money, family, health or anything else follows you to bed and keeps you from falling asleep, develop a routine that utilizes some or all of the above points before lying down. Worrying keeps your brain turned on, making it tough to get into sleep mode. Take deep breaths, read something calming, has a cup of herbal tea just before bedtime.

5. Savor your beauty sleep. Stress tires the body, so it’s no wonder that getting more sleep helps reduce stress. Too little sleep leaves us irritable; too much makes us lethargic. Setting a regular bedtime and not exercising three hours beforehand tells our bodies to call it a night.

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