You all may be braver than I. I do not step foot into the mall from Halloween to New Years. If I do, I usually end up locking myself in a Starbucks bathroom to finish a meltdown. So I thought these tips–”7 Ways to Let Stress Out”–from Vitality magazine may come in handy. Here they are.
1. Get regular exercise.
People who exercise for 20 or 30 minutes at least 3 times a week can significantly reduce their stress, says the American Council on Exercise. Any form of physical activity works, including walking, cycling, running or playing a team sport, such as soccer or basketball, and even typing really fast at your computer (just kidding).
2. Be mindful of the present.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully engaged in the present moment. Instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness pays attention to what’s happening right now. Sit in a relaxed position and clear your mind. Focus on your breathing, a word or a sound, such as “oommm,” [or even "idiot, idiot, he's an idiot"], for 10 to 20 minutes. It’s helpful to have silence and privacy, but more skilled meditators can do it anywhere. Gently return to your breathing if your attention is drawn to something else. [They wrote the last sentence for me.]
3. Take a deep breath.
This technique is used in many relaxation practices, including yoga, meditation and visualization. Deep breathing involves not only the lungs, but also the abdomen and diaphragm. To perform it, breathe in deeply and slowly to a count of 8, holding your breath with your abdomen extended. Slowly exhale to a count of 8; then repeat for 10 minutes.
[I was flabbergasted to find this suggestion. Yah! Finally, we can speak of the spiritual in mainstream media!] Saying the rosary, repeating a prayer or chanting a mantra can lower stress and help you feel clam and protected.
5. Live a healthy lifestyle.
Take good care of yourself by getting enough sleep; eating a healthy diet; avoiding excess caffeine, alcohol and tobacco; and not abusing drugs.
6. Practice hatha yoga.
This yoga practice involves stretching and forming different poses while keeping breathing slow and controlled. Yoga helps bring a relaxed state into your daily life. Injuries can occur if yoga is done incorrectly, so it’s best to learn by attentiong classes with a qualified yoga teacher.
7. Go to your happy place.
[Ha! One of my own here!] Guided imagery or visualization involves imaging a scene in which you feel free of tension and stress. Close your eyes and imagine your special place, such as a beach, favorite vacation spot or whatever you like. Picture the scene as clearly as you can, including what you can see, hear, smell and feel.