A mix collection of inspirational stories gathered from the internet and personal experiences.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Five Ways to Beat Stress

By Samantha Ettus
New York Times

Though relaxation is often considered a luxury, there is increasing scientific evidence that it is at least as important as exercise in maintaining good health. These are the steps:

1. BREATHE: Deep breathing helps prevent and relieve harmful reactions to stress. Even when you can't control the situation, you can control your breathing, thus changing your reaction to unpleasant circumstances. Deep breathing can be done any time, and practice makes it more effective.

Because exhaling is the most relaxing phase of breathing, take longer to exhale than to inhale. Take twice as long to exhale as to inhale when you're feeling stressed.

2. MEDITATE: Meditation is the practice of focusing your awareness. Even a few minutes a day can bring benefits. When you meditate, a number of desirable things begin to happen:

# When you focus your awareness, you concentrate better and thus perform better and accomplish more.

# Desirable changes occur in your body as you experience a profound state of relaxation, including decreased blood pressure, a slower heart rate and clearer thinking.

# Meditation can enhance your senses. Consider: When you pay attention to what you eat, you may need less food yet enjoy it more fully.

# Your mind quiets down. You experience an inner peace and can be relaxed in the midst of busy activity. When you realize that your peace comes from within, it can be profoundly empowering.

3. FOCUS: Types of meditation are found in many cultures. Certain principles are universal:

# In most forms of meditation, you repeat a sound, a phrase or a verse from a prayer. Or you can simply observe your breathing.

# Certain sounds and words are very soothing. They often mean "peace'' -- for example, words such as "shalom'' and "salaam.'' If you are more comfortable with a secular meditation, you can repeat the word "one.'' Humming sounds are very peaceful. They usually begin with an "oh'' or an "ah'' sound and end with an "M'' or an "N.''

# Meditation is easy to learn but difficult to master. A wandering mind is part of the process. When you become aware that your mind is wandering, gently bring it back without berating yourself. With practice, your mind will wander less.

4. PRACTICE: Consistency is more important than duration. Even a minute has benefits because, on a subconscious level, you continue meditating throughout the day.

5. MINDFULNESS: Observe whatever comes up each moment without judgment or getting caught up in the emotion. Eventually your life becomes a continual meditation, and you remain relaxed even in the busiest circumstances.

Adapted from the book "The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do,'' by Samantha Ettus.

Source: New York Times

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