Do you ever feel over-worked and stressed? You're not alone.

According to the American Institute of Stress, Americans (and us Canadians) are more stressed than ever before. Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects as a result, and 75 to 90 percent of adult visits to health care physicians are precipitated by stress-related problems. 

Stress also causes approximately one million employees to be absent on any given workday, and is responsible for nearly 50 percent of employee burnout and 40 percent of worker turnover.

Enough bad news; lets look at the good news. There are a variety of stress management techniques that can be easily incorporated into the busiest daily routine. Here for you are 13 relieving choices. Give a few a try each week, and make these lucky 13 choices your healthy habits for relieving stress.

  1. Stretching for a couple of minutes can relieve the muscular tension from stress. Lean your right ear towards your right shoulder, stretching the left side of the neck, next do the other side. Then look down, dropping your chin towards your chest. Slowing let your head roll to the right, then to the left, repeating a few times. Try including a few shoulder circles as well. This is so simple and when done several times a day, your range of motion will increase and you’ll be more relaxed. 
  2. Massage. Ask your therapist to use a calming essential oil like lavender or chamomile. Buy some of the oil and when you are having a stressful moment, put a couple of drops on a tissue and breathe into it deeply. You can also let the sent infuse the air with a diffuser. By simply smelling the oil works to relax you even if you don’t get the massage!
  3. Laugh. Laughter actually changes our body chemistry, gives our immune system a boost and feels great too. When ever possible, try to smile and those around you will feel welcome in your presence. You have the power to choose your mood. If you are bold, you can find a private place and laugh for a minute or two. I am sure you will find yourself laughing at yourself,… but the result is that you will feel better. Share a joke or a moment that made you laugh, with a friend and co-worker. Feeling a little silly at times is good!
  4. Self Talk. Close your eyes and keep repeating whatever phrases you need, such as ‘I am clam’ or ‘I am relaxed and peaceful…’ Maybe you need to tell yourself, ‘I am loved.’ (Remember you always have the power to choose your actions and reactions). Just try it.
  5. Check your posture. If you are sitting, put your feet flat on the floor (thighs should be angled slightly toward the floor, put a slight arch in your lower back, gently push your sternum (chest bone) back and relax your shoulders. Take a few deep breaths and hold this position for a minute or two. You may begin to feel yourself slouch again after a couple minutes of not thinking about how you are sitting. Just reposition yourself. Good posture will relieve muscle tension. Build up a couple of minutes at a time until it becomes habit.
  6. Go for a walk on the beach, in the mountains or around your neighborhood. Just 20 to 30 minutes a day can work wonders, both physically and mentally. If you have a dog, bring them with you and admire their passion for fresh air and life. 
  7. Decorate. Bring the outdoors indoors. Decorate your home with nature-inspired decor to help you relax and soothe the soul. 
  8. Hobbies. Take up an enjoyable hobby. Whether it's painting, playing an instrument, knitting, or fly-fishing, choose something that will force you to calm down and enjoy the moment. 
  9. Try Tai Chi, meditation, or prayer. By focusing on within, you'll acquire a proper perspective and better control over the anxiety-riddled external world. Even something as simple as reading for 10 min before bed will bring ‘you time’ to your life. As you are falling asleep, or driving in traffic, remind yourself of all the blessings in your life. 
  10. Hug your spouse. Kiss your children. Pet your dog. Laugh. Be playful ... spontaneous ... and have fun. Remember the times when it was just you and your partner before you had children? What about the sparkle in your child’s eyes when they did something for the first time. Life seems to pass us by, but today, take a moment to let those around you know how much they mean to you. 
  11. Abs Ball is a great replacement for your back stiffening office chair. Your core muscles will get a great wake up call, and those who enter your office may follow your lead. Take a few minutes before lunch and use your ball for a variety of body firming exercises. 
  12. Breathing is life! We can live weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without oxygen, yet the average person breathes so shallowly that it is almost impossible to see. Sit yourself as mentioned above and take a slow deep breath in through your nose concentrating on filling up your lungs, from top to bottom. Hold the air in for a moment and then slowly exhale through your lips. Breathe deeply 4 – 5 times, a few times a day.
  13. Listen to calming music. You may like rock and roll, hip hop, or house music but those are more likely to energize and speed you up then calm you. Using your sense of hearing to relax you is very affective. Try The Best of Sade. 

Sexy Bonus! Something as simple as sex can make a difference. You will feel more relaxed, and will be burning calories in the process.

Remember that we always have the power and responsibility to choose how we feel about, and react to, events and situations that occur in our lives. This is our one life that we are sure about, so be good to yourself; no one can do it better then you!

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