• You’ll Feel Better

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    Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems.. Sometimes it may seem that stress has no solution. Bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.

    While 99 percent of Americans feel relaxation is important, most spend less than 5 percent of their day in pursuit of it, according to a survey commissioned by, fittingly, a major cruise line.

    Anxiety May Accelerate Aging, While Relaxing Slows It

    Part of what makes relaxation so good for you is by tamping down the effects of stress and anxiety. For instance, a recent study revealed that anxiety disorders increase your risk of several aging-related conditions, which might be due to accelerated aging at the cellular level.

    According to one study in PLOS One:

    RR [relaxation response] elicitation is an effective therapeutic intervention that counteracts the adverse clinical effects of stress in disorders including hypertension, anxiety, insomnia and aging…

    The Many Health Benefits of Deep Relaxation

    If you want to experience the health benefits of relaxation, you need to do more than lounge on your couch watching TV. You’re looking for deep relaxation, the kind where your mind stops running and your body is free of tension.

    Jake Toby, a hypnotherapist at London's BodyMind Medicine Center who helps people to evoke the relaxation response, told The Independent:

    “What you're looking for is a state of deep relaxation where tension is released from the body on a physical level and your mind completely switches off,” he says.

    Genes responsible for cancer progression (such as pro-inflammatory cytokines) were down-regulated while those associated with a healthy immune response were up-regulated. In addition, relaxation may help:

    • Boost Immunity: Meditation is known to have a significant effect on immune cells, and research shows relaxation exercises may boost natural killer cells in the elderly, leading to increased resistance to tumors and viruses.
    • Fertility: Research suggests women are more likely to conceive when they’re relaxed as opposed to when they’re stressed.
    • Heart Health: Relaxation via meditation (done once or twice daily for three months) significantly lowered their blood pressure and psychological distress, and also bolstered coping ability in people at increased risk of hypertension.
    • Mental Health: People who meditate note reductions in psychological distress, depression, and anxiety.
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): When people with IBS practiced relaxation meditation twice daily, their symptoms (including bloating, belching, diarrhea, and constipation) improved significantly.

    Money Is a Top Source of Stress for Americans

    In case you were wondering, money tops the list of stressors to Americans, beating out work, family responsibilities and health concerns. If you have trouble relaxing, perhaps you know this all too well.

    According to award-winning neurobiologist Dr. Robert Sapolsky, the following are the most common health conditions that are caused by or worsened by stress (which, theoretically, relaxation could help counter):

    Cardiovascular disease Hypertension Depression
    Anxiety Sexual dysfunction Infertility and irregular cycles
    Frequent colds Insomnia and fatigue Trouble concentrating
    Memory loss Appetite changes Digestive problems and dysbiosis

    How to Evoke Your Body’s Relaxation Response

    As noted in the journal PLOS One, “Millennia-old practices evoking the RR include meditation, yoga and repetitive prayer.” These are, of course, not the only options. The relaxation response can also be elicited through tai chi, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, guided imagery and Qi Gong, for instance. Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response, but taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can also trigger it. And as noted by Dr. Kelly Brogan:

    “…summoning up a feeling of gratitudewhile breathing in a paced manner (typically six counts in and six counts out), can flip heart rate variability into the most optimal patterns associated with calm relaxation and peak mental performance. They have validated the effects on ADHD, hypertension, and anxiety including double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials.”

    EFT for Stress Relief and Relaxation

    I also strongly recommend energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which can be very effective for reducing anxiety and stress – and inducing relaxation — by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that causes your body’s reactions. You can think of EFT as a tool for “reprogramming” your circuitry, and it works on both real and imagined stressors.

    In addition to stress relief, you can use EFT for setting goals and sticking to them, which is what the video above is focused on. If you are seriously stressed about money, setting goals related to your financial future might be especially pertinent to finding deep relaxation – and easier to achieve when combined with EFT.

    Many people find that using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion works best; call it “muscular meditation,” and you’ll begin to understand how it works. Walking and jogging are prime examples. Even a simple 20-minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress. But some people prefer vigorous workouts that burn stress along with calories.

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    Photo Source: Bernard Goldbach



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