Deal With Stress

Achieving Instant Relaxation For Body, Mind And Soul Is Perfectly Possible

There are many ways meditation can improve your lifeOur best beat-stress advice is pretty straightforward: eat healthy, balanced meals, get enough sleep, and make time for regular exercise. But yes, there will always be days when you need a calming quick-fix in addition to these. We asked experts for instant de-stress tricks – they’re quick, easy, and most can be done at your desk (bar the “quickie” of course.):

Laugh out Loud

When you laugh, you dissipate internal tension and stimulate your nervous system at the same time. In his book Health, Healing and the Amuse System: Humor as Survival Training (Kendall/Hunt), Dr Paul McGhee contends that your sense of humor promotes physical, mental and spiritual health. For an instant mood boost, phone your funniest friend for a chat, or watch the latest comedy clip on YouTube and allow yourself to laugh out loud.

Enjoy a “Quickie”

Sex is a great form of relaxation, and yes, it can be done in 60 seconds. Experts say quickie sex offers stress-relieving benefits, and because you want to get there quickly, the usual performance pressures are reduced. It releases feel-good endorphins and oxytocin, which promote feelings of affection, and increases blood flow to the brain and other organs thanks to deep breathing and an increased heart rate.

Sweeten Up…

..with chocolate. There’s a reason we turn to it when we need an emotional lift: Chocolate is rich in tryptophan, which produces serotonin, the body’s natural anti-depressant. It also contains anandamide, which promotes relaxation, and theobromine and phenylethyl-amine (PEA), two stimulants that give the brain a lift. Although we don’t recommend you eat bucket-loads, you can’t go wrong with high-quality dark chocolate when you need a moment of sheer bliss. If you’re watching your kilojoule intake, try including more of these tryptophan-rich foods instead: cottage cheese, bananas, dates, milk, pecan nuts, plums, avocado, sunflower seeds, baked potatoes, turkey, and salmon.

Meditate and Transcend

Transcendental meditation (TM) has long been touted as a surefire way to find inner calm, and research suggests that people who meditate regularly show up to three times more activity in the brain regions linked to positive emotions. Practitioners can achieve deep relaxation almost instantly, as brainwave patterns change within seconds of beginning the technique. EEG tests, which measure electrical activity in the brain, support these findings and they indicate that TM promotes greater restfulness and relaxation, along with improved alertness. Learning the technique takes time, but once you’ve mastered it you can achieve bliss instantly.

Try Qigong

Like meditation, the Chinese internal martial art of qigong is breath-focused. ‘Qi’ (or ‘chi’) is the Chinese term for bioelectricity and this circulates throughout the body at all times. Breathing correctly and focusing on one’s ‘qi’ can bring about a state of relaxation almost immediately, through proper training. You can also try ‘taijiquan’ (or t’ai chi), which is one of the moving forms of qigong practice – it has been called “moving meditation”.

See the Love

Keep photos of loved ones – friends, family, pets – close at hand, as just looking at them will help you relax. Looking at photos of loved ones, or any other deeply pleasing scenes, engages the right brain, brain stem and mid brain. This part of the brain understands images, symbolic messages and emotions. The right brain produces alpha brain waves that allow us to relax and experience deep calm and inner joy. For instant calm, keep those photos in your wallet or on your desk at work.

Follow the Scent

Aromatherapy makes use of scented essential oils to stimulate olfactory receptors. These send impulses to the limbic system in the brain, which is connected to the endocrine glands that regulate hormone levels. To calm down, have a whiff of relaxing lavender or soothing sandalwood. Also try jasmine, ylang ylang, vanilla and chamomile. That little moment of olfactory bliss will refresh your nervous system and help you reclaim calm.

Be Grateful

Research shows that the physical benefits of daily gratitude exercises include: higher levels of awareness, enthusiasm, optimism and energy. “If you can build a few moments of gratitude into your life daily, you will truly transform your world,” says life coach Kate Emmerson. Get out pen and paper and write down what you are grateful for. Time yourself and try to list as many things as possible in a minute. This will help you keep small worries in perspective and focus on what’s going right in your life, rather than what isn’t.

Talk Yourself into It

When you’re feeling stressed, repeating a word that represents how you wish you felt (such as “calm” or “peaceful”) can help you achieve a Zen-like state. Studies show the effects – lower blood pressure and slower heart rate and breathing – are the result of the triggered relaxation response. The crucial elements are to focus on the word and your breathing, and to bring your attention back to these if your mind wanders.

Turn on the Tunes

According to a study published in the British journal Heart, slow or meditative music (such as Beethoven’s Symphony No.9) is a proven stress buster. Set your radio to a soothing station next time you’re stuck in traffic and feeling tension surge. You can also try this quick relaxation technique: Grab the steering wheel and clench the muscles in your fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Do this until your muscles begin to tremble (about 4-5 seconds), then release. “You’ll produce a wave of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers,” says Kenneth Pelletier, co-author of Stress Free for Good (Harper Collins). Just make sure your foot is on the brake when you let go of the wheel.

Recall Past Success

When you’re facing a major life challenge, take a minute to think back on how you pulled through other stressful situations in the past. In the moment, it may feel as though you’ll never get over your present problem, but when you look back, you realize that you felt similarly before and found a way to overcome it.

Author Bio: Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at

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