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Mind and Body
If you’re feeling the strain, but the idea of devoting your life to yoga doesn’t appeal, try these 10 hassle free ways to inner calm…

Catherine Pengelly

10 Easy Stress Busters

1. Talk – Talk through your problems with a good friend or your partner. Even the act of discussing things often makes you feel better. Ask for impartial advice as to how to ease the problems that you have discovered, or choose the sort of stressful situations that you have identified in which to use relaxation techniques
2. Learn How To Relax – Practice deep-breathing techniques such as slowly inhaling while counting to five; hold your breath for five seconds then breathe out slowly. Repeat this 10 times when feeling stressed, concerning on nothing but your breathing.
3. Exercise Regularly – You do not have to be a gym freak to get the stress beating benefits of exercise. Even 20 minutes of brisk walking three times a week will help to reduce stress as well as promoting restful sleep.
4. De-Clutter – Mess creates confusion and a sense of loss of power. If your desk/home/car is messy and disorganised, have a good clear out and tidy up. You’ll instantly feel more in control.
5. Think Positive – Use ‘affirmations’ – positive strands of thought out into words. Repeating ‘I am a loving and much loved person’, can work wonders. Say it and believe it. And it will become true.
6. Keep A List - for at least a fortnight - of events, times, places and people that seem to make you feel more stressed. You will probably be surprised to find that a pattern soon emerges; and this may be linked to time pressure, personality clashes, inappropriate demands or simply trying to do too many things at once.
7. Plan Breaks In Your Day - The aim here is to allow time for the unexpected. Get up 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to and prepare for the day without rushing. Even better, get things ready the night before. Try to have 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon that is exclusively 'your' time, in which you can do whatever you want, even if it is simply sitting doing nothing. Look forward to these times when things get busy and if you are unable to use them always remember to 'catch up' later on.
8. Stretch - Sitting upright on a chair, and keeping your back straight, extend your arms out in front of you as far as possible. Hold for ten seconds. Repeat, with your arms behind you. Then hold on to the sides of your chair and push your body upwards. Feel your spine stretch. Hold for ten. Now stretch arms to the ceiling, to release tension in back and shoulders. Relax and shake your arms.
9. Use Scent To Improve Your Mood - Certain aromas are thought to activate the production of the brain's feel-good chemical serotonin. Drip a few drops of the following aromatherapy oils on a tissue to sniff when you feel stress levels rising: jasmine, neroli, lavender, chamomile, vetiver, clary sage.
10. Change The Habit - Many stresses are habitual. If you start to feel anxious or stressed out, do something out of character. Stop what you're doing and do something else. Or take a minute to take stock and work out why you're feeling uptight.

For more information on relaxation and stress therapies see;

© Catherine Pengelly June 2002

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