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Self-Help Strategies for Stress

Abdominal breathing:  Abdominal slows you down and brings a good supply of oxygen to your brain.  Check your breathing pattern by putting one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. If your lower hand moves and your top hand does not, you are doing abdominal breathing. But if your top hand moves and your bottom one does not, you are doing chest breathing.  The more you practice abdominal breathing, the easier it will become.

You’re going to inhale through your nose and exhale out of your mouth.  Your exhalation needs to be longer than your inhalation.  To slow your exhalation down let your breath out as if you blowing out a candle (purse your lips).

  • Lay down flat and close your eyes (pop on an eye pillow cooled in the fridge for extra chill-out) place your hands fingertip to fingertip with your middle fingers meeting at your belly button.
  • As you inhale through your nose, push your belly up and feel your fingertips expand.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise. Repeat 5 times.
  • Now place your hands under the breast area of each side of your body which is the rib area.
  • As you inhale through your nose, expand your ribs and feel your hands push out.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth.  Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your ribs expand.  Repeat 5 times.
  • Now you are going to do a complete breathing cycle, inhaling deeply from the belly and ribcage and exhaling.
  • As you inhale through your nose for a count of 5, push your belly up and expand your ribs.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of 6. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise and your ribs expand.  Repeat this cycle 5 times.

Pare down your to-do list: Analyse your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”   Try this:  List all your tasks for the day (or week).  Create three columns on a sheet of paper and head them A, B and C.  Put very important tasks in A.  All unimportant tasks in C and the rest in B.  Now put all the B tasks in either column A or C.  Finally put all the tasks in column A in priority order.  Your focus for the day (or week) is column A.

Set aside relaxation time: Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others: Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

Do something you enjoy every day: Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle:  You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health via: exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.