We have long known that a loving touch can soothe a stressed out child, but recent research found that hearing a mother's voice over the phone can have almost the same effect. A recent study found that after a stressful episode the feel good brain chemical oxytocin rose and stress hormone cortisol fell in almost equal amounts in both girls who were physically comforted by their mothers and girls who were comforted by their mothers over the phone. Nice to know that loving words can soothe almost as much as a hug. The girls involved in the study were all under 12 years of age and had yet to enter the volatile teenage years when mother-daughter relationships can become emotionally fraught. Next time you feel stressed, dial the phone to find comfort in a loving voice. If calling your mother is anxiety producing, skip that call and dial a friend. Who is on your emotional support speed dial list?
People de-stress in different ways, and if soaking in a warm bath doesn't do it for you, try something a little more active and playful in the four-legged variety. Many studies show the health benefits of pets for relieving stress, reducing high blood pressure, and boosting your mood.
Calm your mind by playing with your pet. If you don't have one, canoodle with your friend's goldendoodle. Pet your neighbor's cat. Visit a shelter and play with the animals there. Aside from a cute face, cats and dogs provide unconditional affection, which is great after a stressful day.
Times are stressful lately, and while massages are a great way to unwind they can be a little hard on the pocketbook. Since money woes are creating enough stress on their own, it is great to find things that can help you unwind that don't cost a dime. Meditation is one such thing.
Meditation comes in many forms. You can focus on your breath, a single thought, or a mantra to clear your mind. You can also do guided meditation focusing your breath to different parts of your body, or guiding your imagination to a peaceful place. A great way to reduce stress, meditation is essentially about strengthening the relationship between your mind and body. How sweet is that? The goal is to quiet your mind by focusing on the moment, instead of your worries and stress.
If sitting with your eyes closed and trying to think of nothing sounds overwhelming, try to meditate for a minute. Simply sitting and breathing for only 60 seconds can really revitalize your brain.
For a few pointers for starting meditation read more
I know that it seems like a contradiction of terms, but active relaxation is a real technique for getting rid of unwanted tension. Stress creates muscle tension so actively relaxing your muscles can really help clear your mind and ease your level of anxiety.
Hold the following positions for five seconds and focus on the sensation of muscle tightness. Then actively release the position and focus on the sensation of tension leaving the muscles. These moves can be done sitting at your desk, and I recommend doing them each a couple of times.
(Start with your right foot, then repeat on the left side)
- Scrunch your toes and point your toes inward
- Flex your toes and pull them toward your head
- Straighten your knee, so leg is parallel to the floor and tense your thigh, relax the leg back down
For your torso:
- Squeeze your bum
- Tense your stomach, make it feel tight like a ball
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together
To see what else you can do for your shoulders just read more
Kirsten Dunst has recently been spotted in Maui relaxing and getting toned with some fun kayaking.
If you're lucky enough to be vacationing some place warm enough to spend some time on the water like Kirsten, then you should definitely consider kayaking. Don't be intimidated by kayaking I know there is the roll over factor, but in reality kayaking can be a very relaxing and toning experience. To learn why and to see more pics of Kirsten kayaking in Maui, read more
I love to nap and now I have an excuse — it is good for the heart! Kind of funny to use am exclamation point about the quiet act of napping.
A recent study in Greece concluded that those who participated in "napping at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to non-nappers."
It is believed that napping helped relieve some of the work related stress that is also considered detrimental to the health of the heart. So much so that the benefits of napping were more significant in employed men than unemployed men. Unfortunately there were not enough women participating in the study to create significant data one way or the other. I am still going to nap as much as I can.
I might even suggest to my bosses that we get one of these MetroNap pods for the office. See you in dream land.
We are a month into the new year and already that resolution to be less stressed has been tossed out the window. Well, bring that resolution back and focus on something that makes you tick. Your breath - yep, I am talking meditation.
Meditation involves concentrating on a single thought, word, image or movement and is a great way to reduce stress. Essentially you are trying to strengthen the relationship between your mind and body. How sweet. The goal is to quiet your mind by focusing on the moment instead of your worries.
So where to begin? I have always found it best to focus on my breath. So find a comfortable and quiet place to sit, I find it too tempting to fall asleep if I meditate lying down. Then focus on different aspects of your breath. How it sounds and how it feels.
I have heard meditation explained like this. Your mind is a puppy that is getting paper trained/housebroken and the paper is meditation. As your mind, the puppy, wanders off the paper you gently steer it back to the paper, which is your breath and meditation practice. Just as you wouldn't be harsh with a puppy learning where to "go," you shouldn't be harsh on yourself if your mind wanders. After all that is what the mind does.
Set an alarm for 5 or 10 minutes and meditate until the alarm goes off. No cheating or peeking. It may feel like an eternity, but it will soon get easier to focus your mind. Practice in this case doesn't make perfect, but makes one simply more self aware.