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Five Ways to De-Stress

With the holidays ending and the full brunt of winter hitting most of us head on, it is time to de-stress. While savoring a carefully-crafted cocktail or sipping a winter warmer might provide a nice mellow feeling, you might need a little more in your arsenal. These are five great ways to relax and say bye-bye to lingering stress.

1. Listen to the Ramones
Okay, you do not have to run through your house jamming to Rock n' Roll High School, but put on something upbeat. Find a streaming station, type in an upbeat genre of your choice, and enjoy. Streaming songs is always a nice surprise. I get a bit more pleasure out of it. It is fun when you know the music, but do not get too wrapped up in who is playing and the lyrics, just enjoy the beat. Enjoy the reggae upbeat, rock to the drums, do the robot to the synthesizer. It is nearly impossible to resist a head bob or a smile when upbeat music is on. 

2. Breathe
This is an easy one. We all know how to do it right? It is amazing what a set of closed eyes and a deep, slow breath can do sometimes. Three times and you can feel your blood pressure dropping. You do not always have time or an attention-span for full-blown meditation, but you always have a second to breathe. Get those arms in the air for a little stretch. Sit up straight. Really think of that breath. During really stressful times, you might even want to set a reminder on your calendar to breathe. It might sound silly, but we all have those times.

According to the May 2009 Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, "Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure. For more info and tips on how to breathe deeply check out the full article.

3. Change it Up 
Change your environment. Freshen up your space. Painting a whole wall might be an extreme, but you can do something small. You can light a candle, open your blinds, bring something you like into the room/office like a souvenir from a recent trip, a picture of a loved one, or a rock you found on a relaxing walk. Remember to look at it and enjoy it throughout the day. Do not let your space get stale, swap those out when you need a boost.

4. Clean it Up
If you find that your space is getting cluttered, clean it up! You might be tired and drained, but once you have gotten it done it will boost your mood. Not only will you have a sense of accomplishment you will be less stressed. Clutter can overstimulate us exhausting our senses and minds, distract us, prevent relaxation, cause feelings of guilt and embarrassment, put our minds in overdrive, make us anxious, inhibit creativity and productivity, and cause overall frustration. (Psychology Today Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies)

5. Mentally Escape
Sometimes, like it or not, you have to accept your situation for what it is until you move on and out of a stressful situation. A good part of life is the constant potential for change. Transitions can be hard and stressful. Do not let the stress of the situation leak into the other parts of your life. Take back your weekends and your sleeping hours. It is not an easy task for some, but it is an important one. Take yourself out of the stressful situation as best as you can and focus on the other parts of your life. If you cannot pinpont the situation and you are just suffering an overall sense of blah, focus on something good in your life.

Along the same lines of bopping to the beat in the first tip, sometimes you just need to reset your mind by escaping for a while. While we can't all run to a cabin in the Rockies to get away from it all, we all have ways we can occupy our minds and mentally escape from current stressors. It's different for everyone, so find yours...and write it down. It's hard to remember sometimes when you're in the middle of a crisis.

Think of a mix of five-minute escapes and full-day activities. Incorporate your hobbies. Read intricate poetry that describes every sensation of a rushing waterfall, lose yourself in a board game where you save the world from a plague, fill your mind with dance steps, or detail your car. It's good to focus on something clear for a while.


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