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Three Stress Relief Techniques

By David Leonhardt

There is good stress, and there is bad stress. Good stress is the type that propels a person to excel, to reach new heights or to complete a big project on time. And there is bad stress. Stress that comes from conflict or worries. Stress that keeps a person from sleeping and happiness. Stress that calls for relief. Here are three stress-relief tips you can follow...

Meditation for stress relief
Can there be a more obvious stress relief strategy than to bring your entire physical being to a calm? Meditation techniques often involve visualization of something calm, like a blank screen or clouds. Or it can mean clearing your mind entirely.

If stress is caused by how we allow our minds to captured by worries and fears, then replacing those worries and fears with calmer images is the obvious way to reduce stress.

Exercise to reduce stress
If relaxing to a state where even your blood vessels are almost still is the ultimate in stress relief, surely exercise, which gets even your blood pumping at breakneck speed, must be the ultimate stress demon. Not so. Exercise is a big stress reliever. In fact, the bigger the muscles you exercise, the more less stress you will bear. That's because exercise releases physical tension in the muscles.

Here's another tip: exercise in water to reduce stress even more. Why? Because you are more buoyant on water; gravity takes a much gentler toll on your body, so the tension created in your muscles just by holding you up gets released. For the ultimate stress release, exercise in water. Or meditate in water. Or laugh in water.

Laughter reduces stress, too
Yes, laughter also relieves stress. The muscles we use to laugh are those tense ones in our faces. When we loosen them, we release tension from our faces. We also allow more blood to flow to the pleasure centers of the brain (which might be why someone with a 'good sense of humor' is considered more attractive).

I think I will close with this excerpt from my newsletter, A Daily Dose of Happiness, which shows the value of a little creative humor:

Little Lady was guarding the space between the trees, as I tried to kick her little ball past her. Then an idea struck me. Off to the side lay a large, purple fit ball that the kids like to be bounced on. I rushed over, rolled it into the clearing and kicked it toward Little Lady. "Giant Blueberry Soccer!" I shouted. She laughed.

For the next ten or fifteen minutes, we rolled and kicked and laughed and shouted, "Giant Blueberry Soccer!" What a great family moment, stress relief, joy-injector, fun and more. My formula was simple, and you can do it too. Look around and find something that just would not belong, like a too-big ball. Then imagine what it might be, like a blueberry. Then thrust it into your situation with all the gusto you can apply.


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