Listen to Stress-Reducing Tunes
Muzak, the term used to describe the monotonous melodies played in elevators and waiting rooms, has been proven to have soothing effects. Additionally, studies have shown that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium. Along with these calming benefits, music has also been shown to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Master a Three-Part Breath
Improper breathing can throw off your oxygen and carbon dioxide balance and contribute to anxiety. Mimicking a relaxed breathing pattern helps to calm your nervous system almost immediately. Try these simple breathing exercises to focus on the most-stressed areas of your body.
Belly: Place your hand on your gut and inhale deeply. Make sure you feel the air go into your belly; expand your stomach. As you breathe in, you'll see your hand expand. Breathe out. After several times, that uneasy feeling in your stomach should dissipate.
Chest: Put your hands on your chest and inhale deeply. While your chest expands, keep your stomach flat.
Shoulders: Breathe into your upper chest. Place your arms above your sternum and as you inhale, you'll feel your shoulders go up and down. After a few minutes, the tension should dissipate.
Practice Better Posture
Your posture and the way you hold yourself indicates the degree of tension you're experiencing. It can even create unwanted stress in the body; tense muscles send a message to your brain that you're stressed. Taking a moment to straighten up and focus on how you're standing or sitting can make a big difference.
Eat Glucose-Balancing Foods
When you're stressed out, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which elevates your body's blood sugar levels. To avoid spikes or crashes in your blood sugar, eat glucose-balancing foods. Make sure each meal you have contains three vital components: Protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Try the following meal plan for 24 hours
Oatmeal with cinnamon, almonds and hemp milk
Sweet potato burger and avocado
Wild salmon, quinoa, spinach and carrot salad
Frozen banana bites with peanut butter and honey, or mozzarella and tomatoes
Try the Raisin Meditation
Many people consider what they eat; yet few of us really focus on how we eat. When you direct your attention to the taste of your food, you at once calm and awaken your senses. Adapted from the old Buddhist teaching of mindful eating, this raisin meditation helps to change the way you eat.
1. Put the raisin in the palm of your hand and look at its color, size and shape. Notice its curves and wrinkles.
2. Touch the raisin's texture. Is it soft or smooth? Warm or cool?
3. Consider how you would describe the raisin's scent. What does it remind you of?
4. Put the raisin in your mouth, but don't bite it yet. Feel it against your tongue. Now go ahead and bite the raisin lightly, tasting and feeling the texture. Let it sit in your mouth for a few moments.
5. Slowly chew the raisin. Feel the flavor unfold with each bite. Be present for the entire process. Don't swallow right away; let the taste linger. Notice how the texture of the raisin changes as you chew.
6. Swallow the raisin.
You can put this same idea to work in your everyday life to focus on eating slowly and mindfully. Practice this during one meal a day.
Unplug Your Tech Distractions
A study showed that after using social media, over two-thirds of participants had trouble sleeping and 25 percent of those people also had problems with relationships because of their online behaviors. Take a social media hiatus by shutting down your accounts for a full day. Deactivating is easy to do on a short-term basis; you can reactivate after the cleanse without loosing any information. It can be as simple as logging out—that way you'll have to think twice before entering your password. You'll also want to disconnect to your phone. During this cleanse, only use your phone to make real person-to-person calls. Forget playing on apps or texting—only pick up the phone to speak with someone. You can even set cellphone-free times where you put your phone away. Without the distraction, you'll be more present in your relationships with your significant other, friends and family.
Declutter Your Inbox and Desktop
Known as e-clutter, digital messages like emails, texts and even files on your computer desktop can be just as overwhelming and stressful as physical clutter. Purge your inbox by unsubscribing from unnecessary newsletters. You can also organize your emails. Organizer
is a free iPhone application that will automatically sort your emails into folders so that you can focus on important messages only. The app creates and sends a digital report summarizing what's been organized for you.
Enjoy a Cleansing Nightcap
Stress can build up during the day and keep you awake at night, so try an aromatherapeutic shower before you turn in. Make your own fragrance by filling a mug with rosemary oil and lime; these two ingredients have been shown to calm nerves and help dispel tension. When you head into the shower, place the mug on a shelf near your head and breathe in the scents. The calming aroma along with the hot steam of the shower will help you relax. If you don't have time to take a shower, you can still enjoy the aromatherapy by placing the mug on a nightstand as you're getting ready for bed.
Next: Dr. Oz's worry cures