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Ways to Relieve Stress: Becoming Zen, Happy and Healthy

Stress is the new fat. It’s a nationwide epidemic rivaling that of obesity. Stress doesn’t can lead to emotional disorders, hypertension and heart problems, headaches and even obesity. While stress in and of itself isn’t a bad thing (as it helps us meet deadlines, perform athletically, etc.), prolonged stress is bad for your health.

If you want to lose weight, have a healthy heart, and improve your overall happiness, it’s time to start thinking about reducing your stress

Reduce Stress with Exercise

Exercise can be one of the greatest stress-relieving activities. However, not all workouts are calming, and some even induce a stress response in your body. Endurance workouts and other forms of exercise have been linked to increased production of stress hormones and inflammation in the body. Relieving stress through exercise is all about which form of exercise you choose. Try any (or all) of these stress-relieving workouts:

  • NIA Technique – Short for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, NIA is a blend of martial arts, dance and healing arts and feature a flow of movement combining deep breathing exercises with movements that will keep your heart rate elevated and your mind and body relaxed.

  • Tai Chi – An ancient form of martial arts that originated in China. Tai Chi is a flowing, meditative series of movements that connects the mind and body, promoting peace and serenity.

  • Restorative Yoga – Traditional yoga is relaxing, but can also be exhausting, especially after a long day. Rather than moving from pose to pose, restorative yoga allows you to hold restful positions for a longer period of time, giving your body time to relax.

  • Chi Running – Combines movements of Tai Chi with running for a more invigorating, yet relaxing workout.

Reduce Stress with HeartMath

HeartMath breathing technique is a highly successful — and healthy — technique used to reduce stress. The HeartMath heart-focused breathing technique is a method of refocusing attention and energy on the heart, releasing stress and anxiety through the heart. Focus breathing on the area of the heart, let go of the stress or anxiety and imagine that your breath is flowing into your body through the area of your heart and out through your heart. Then shift your focus to positive feelings by taking energy away from undesirable emotions and placing your energy on positive, desirable emotions. The heart-focused breathing technique literally changes the rhythm of the heart, calming your autonomous nervous system. By focusing on the heart, you are releasing negative feelings and emotions, and replacing them with positive feelings. The HeartMath technique can help relieve everyday stress, anger and anxiety.

Reduce Stress with Meditation

Practicing regular mediation helps refocus your mind so that your attention is in the here and now, but it is also a means of cleansing the mind, getting rid of negative thoughts and emotions that are increasing your stress levels and can cause you to crave unhealthy foods.

By taking time to meditate, you are taking time to be present in the moment. In our busy lives, it’s easy to have our attention and focus split, and as a result, we become unaware of what we are actually doing. Whether it’s unconsciously overeating because your mind is elsewhere, or lying on the couch for hours without realizing how much time of inactivity has passed.

Practice meditation in your daily life by taking time to sit in the quiet, relaxing your body and focusing on slow, even breaths. Continue your meditative practice for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, giving your mind time to clear and your body time to relax. Getting into that state of peace will enable you to make healthier choices.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.