1. Breathe properly! Too many people breathe shallowly and rapidly and from the upper chest area rather than from the diaphragm.
Take a few moments to check your breathing. You should be breathing from low down, and not your upper chest. If you control your breathing, you control your levels of anxiety and reduce stress.
2. Watch what you drink! Sorry to be a killjoy, and I like a glass of wine as much as the next person (more, some would say), but alcohol is a depressant. It may make you feel better at the time, but it will not help you reduce long-term stress. In fact, it will have the exact opposite effect. Especially when the photos of you dancing like a loon at the office Christmas party are posted on the office bulletin board.
Also, be aware that stimulants such as caffeine will prompt the heart to beat faster and make you more "wired." This, in turn, leads to more rapid breathing and a potential increase in anxiety and stress. A couple of cups of coffee a day are no big deal. However, if you're knocking back the stuff by the pot load and you're already more tense than a drug smuggler during a cavity search, it may pay to ease up.
3. Eat better! Try and keep all those saturated fats, and processed and refined foods, to a minimum. Also, drink plenty of water. Water is a great way of reducing acidity in the body and flushing out all those toxins. A healthy body can deal much more efficiently with stress.
4. Exercise! Have you ever felt down or stressed after doing sports or working out? Of course not, it's almost physiologically impossible. Exercise releases endorphins, oxygenates the blood and lowers stress. It also helps strengthen the immune system, make you feel better about yourself and finally get you back into that sexy little black number. You can try it too ladies.
5. Say Ahh! I'm not talking about the Ahh noise you make when your doctor asks you to stick out your tongue because you have a nasty rash in your throat. This is the Ahh we make when we let out a huge sigh of contentment.
Do it five or six times either out loud (if you don't mind getting strange looks from work colleges), or internally (if you'd prefer to retain a modicum of dignity). This action sends a signal to the subconscious that all is well in your world, and you'll immediately feel better.
6. Chill! This is absolutely imperative. Take time for yourself to relax. Meditate for 20 to 30 minutes per day, and this can have incredible results. There is no downside to meditation, but there's lots of upside. If you haven't got time, then make some.
7. Say "no!" If you think it's necessary to say "yes" to every request that's ever made of you, think again. It may seem like you have to take on extra work to get on in life, but that's simply not the case.
Think of any really famous person that you admire, and I'm willing to bet that they say "no" at least 10 times for each time they say "yes." They have to, otherwise they'd spend all their lives opening shopping malls, kissing babies, and meeting stalkers for coffee.
8. Be grateful! I know it's been said once or twice before, but guess why that is? Because it bloody well works! Your life is probably way better than you think it is. If you can focus on what is good about it without neglecting the areas you'd like to improve on, you'll soon feel happier than the dog who was asked by the blind butcher to mind the store for five minutes.
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