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Stress-relieving exercises for a healthy and happy life

Alexandra has taught Yoga since 2009. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Business and is currently taking advanced hours with Judith Hanson Lasater. Her Yoga training includes in-depth therapeutics study with Gabriel Halpern in Chicago,...

Just breathe

The impact of daily stress can create an imbalance in the body and mind. Stress, in general, is wear and tear on the physical body and nervous system. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, speeds up the aging process and creates an acidic environment in our body, contributing to all types of disease including immune depletion, cancer and depression. The best way to release and let go of stress or stressful experiences is by first just recognizing that you are stressed.

Woman relaxing in grass

Sometimes the symptoms of stress are as mild as fatigue, anxiety or shallow breathing. Sometimes food, alcohol or other destructive behavior patterns surface when we go through stressful situations. When you notice the first signs of stress, try these exercises:

Breathe in, breathe out

This is best done lying down but can be practiced anywhere. Start by taking a few deep inhales and exhales through your nose. Relax the body as much as possible. Deepen the inhale by breathing into the diaphragm, allowing the belly to rise and expand and then inhaling, filling all the way to the top of the lungs. On the exhale, open the mouth and allow the breath to come out with an audible "Ahhhhhhhhhhh" sound. You want to feel the sound vibrate through the entire rib cage. Repeat several times until you feel a sense of tranquility.

Write it out

Using a journal or any pen and paper, begin to free-write. Simply write whatever is currently in the mind, encouraging your hand and pen to be the voice of the mind. Do not judge yourself or anything that comes up, just write it down, letting it come out onto the paper. Continue until you feel relieved or the writing begins to pause for more than 60 seconds at a time. You can also shred or burn the journal entry after if you feel inclined.

Get silly

Laughing is also a great way to counter the effects of stress. Watch your favorite funny movie, try a night out at the comedy club, reminisce about a hysterical experience or think about someone farting really loud in a yoga class. No matter what it takes, just laugh!

Choose your hobby

Developing or working on a creative hobby supports peace of mind and a sense of well-being. Try painting, photography, jewelry making, sewing, gardening or anything creative that speaks to you. Maybe even take a class or workshop to learn more about the hobby and to boost your connection with the healing benefits of creative energy.

No matter what life brings your way, you have everything you need to overcome it already inside you. Whenever you feel stressed, take a step back, a deep breath and pivot your focus to an exercise or activity that encourages a feeling of ease. May you be well and prosper!

More on the body & mind

5 Yoga poses to beat the weather blues
The joy of art: Let your creative juices flow
What do your dreams really mean?

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