Body & Spirit: Simple Tips To Zen Yourself Out

Feeling Frazzled? Overloaded To-Do List? Priority Paralysis? Stressed, Burnt-out, Joyless? All of these feelings can be reactions the body has to stress, no matter what the source. There are some good kinds of stress, but mostly in today's lifestyles, there is just way too much "bad" stress for us to cope with. And it can manifest in a variety of very unpleasant ways within our bodies, everything from minor gastric distress to devastating strokes and heart attacks.
But here are 2 things to remember: it doesn't have to be that way, and the body's natural state of being is one of health. The human body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, and this is what we will focus on. Call it what you want: relaxing moment, meditation, yoga, stress therapy, mental vacation or just some plain chill-axing, there are some simple ways that you can reduce your stress and it's effects.  You can lower your blood pressure, feel happier, be more able to cope with things and diminish, if not alleviate, depression. I know...I've done it. 
1. Learn To Breathe
Yes, you read that right!  Many people do not breathe properly, nor deeply or frequently enough. We often even unconsciously hold our breath when stressed.  Practice deep, long inhale breaths, followed by an even longer exhale breath. TRY: Sitting somewhere quiet for a few minutes, close your eyes, try breathe deeply in & out 10 times. When you find your thoughts wandering after only 3 breaths, gently guide yourself back to the exercise. This gets easier with practice. TIP: If you feel you can't do this- then you are the one who really needs it!
2. Schedule Your Relaxation Session
So many busy people say there isn't time to take care of themselves. It's just an excuse, so before you end up in the hopsital, schedule yourself some time to chill. Choose a time that is best for you; any time is a good time to relax. Your "session" can be as simple & short as 2 minutes: (go here) Or put your 'relax moment' into your daily planner. You can take a hot bath before bed, or tell everyone you're going to a meeting, then go meet yourself! 
3. Calm The Chaos (even if it's only in your head!)
Not everything needs to be reacted to, nor needs to be done now. When someone is pushing you, remember to keep breathing and consciously relax your body, otherwise stress will tighten you up.  Organize, make your health a priority and identify and stop doing what you don't need to do. Clear the clutter, in your office, home and in your mind.
4. Take a Moment To Smile, To Laugh!
Smiling can actually increase your mood. Laughing is a stress-reliever. If you don't feel like doing either, try breathing exercises first, then look at or imagine something beautiful you like, and then smile. Become aware of the subtle change in your body. If at first it does not 'work', keep at it, until it will.
5. Stop Watching The News!
Ignore this suggestion at your peril. You do NOT need to be inundated with all the misery in the world, and that is what the news delivers. Go outside, look at a garden or go hug someone instead. No, I'm not joking. (If you feel you must "know what's going on", then set your computer to show headlines for 3 newsstreams, and only read the headers.)
6. Learn How To "Feel" Good
Beleive it or not, so many people are so used to being stressed, that they think that is the 'way they are'. This is not true.  What is true is that we, actually, your brain, becomes addicted and habituated to certain thoughts, patterns and responses.  And like any bad habit, it can be changed, which is the good news. Awareness of this is the start towards change. Tell yourself it's okay to let go a bit. Give yourself permission to have fun, be happy and enjoy life. Try to stop focusing on any bad thing, but immediately turn it around to focusing on a solution, or how it might have been worse, or best: just deal with in a graceful attitude and move on.
7. Practice The 'Attitude of Gratitude' Mentality
Start to think of and be thankful for all the things you have. If you feel you don't have what you want, run a little list in your head of all that you do have. Then stay there. Be grateful. Give thanks for anything and everything. This practice sends natural 'happy-meds' (endorphins, seratonin) into the system, and creates a feeling of well-being. 
Please let me know your opinion - have these suggestions helpedyou in any way? If you have any additional suggestions or if you have any questions on the items listed here, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you! 

The above is not medical advice, and any severe stress should be dealt with by a doctor, as serious health issues can arise from prolonged stress.


  1. Coming here helps to relax and unwind! Love the tips am going to share it.....

  2. Thank you YogaSavy! So happy to know that! Yes, please do share these. Thanks for stopping. Hope you have a 'Zen' day!

  3. .. as I was saying{;o) .. Hi Stephanie, these are wonderful suggestions – stress can be a good thing or bad thing depending upon the type and duration - we need certain amounts of stress to maintain equilibrium .. I did a study many years ago that discussed stress factors affecting individuals during reintegration into communities (mainly focused on Native Americans), and know how important it is to be able to ‘chillax’ as you say (new word of the year 2010 so I’ve heard haha) .. many events can contribute to the amount of stress that affects us, and some people are better equipped to manage it than others, but it is often the culmination of a series of major life events that builds to a point when our bodies can’t cope .. there are a number of studies that have illustrated the impact of certain things on our ‘systems’ (I believe in a holistic approach rather than the Cartesian medical model) – moving house, changing job, breakdown of relationship etc and when our emotional, mental or physical coping strategies become overloaded that’s when stress overrides the ordinary process of life and becomes exhaustion.

    Hans Selye was a scientist who did research into this area decades ago and he came up with a three stage definition: alarm, resistance and exhaustion, and is sometimes associated with the fight or flight syndrome, and also the concept of ‘adaptation’ and the more accurate term of ‘stressor’ – those things that adversely affect the system.

    Anyway, the couple additional things I mentioned .. diet my friend – food (as your next post anticipated; there are so many chemicals in food now that the human body is in a sense weakening in its natural defences – eat organic when possible, cut down on the junk and the foods that imbalance the system (okay okay I know, coffee haha) ..

    Also, a nice relaxing massage carried out by someone who knows what they’re doing, or perhaps just someone who cares enough to spend the time to use touch in a loving and sensitive way .. a bit of effleurage my dear haha .. maybe with scented oils or incense and candlelight (natural of course)?

    I’m sure we could think of more – but I’ll leave some ideas to you .. thanks for letting me have a little of your forum to ramble .. this topic is fascinating and perhaps endless, as various therapies are available – but, it is timely and useful for so many today ..

    Cheers my friend .. KW

  4. I specially like number 4, 5 and 6. Lately I am following the news about radiation coming from Japan and I am so stressed out by it! Although, it is a serious concern about the radiation, I am way too tired of worrying about it! Yes, it's true, I should stop watching the news. I should just smile, and breath deeply and be happy :) Yes, learn to feel good!!

  5. @KW -Thank You for letting averyone know about the background info! All true and very timely. The only thing I would comment on is that the holistic model and the Cartesian medical model have now caught up with each other; new technologies have made it possible to test (and affirm) both the detrimental effects of stress (overt and/or prolonged stress) and the beneficial effects of de-stressing techniques and modalities.
    Was trying here to go beyond what I felt were the most common and well-known ways to 'chill' - so thanks for for citing special, effective ways to rest and relax. I'd also include exercise, (any and all kinds) and yoga, tai chi, qigong and dancing.And I do not think there is anything wrong with drinking coffee; it has many healthy components, as do various teas, chocolates and wines, and all can be helpful as long as they are enjoyed in moderation!

  6. @Jewel- Thank you! I'm glad to know you found this helpful. Just in reading your comment, I'm feeling more relaxed myself! 4,5 & 6 are especially important, and have to do with the fact that whatever we think about is translated into our entire bodily system - so be careful what you focus on and think about. And like you say: be HaPpY and learn to feel GOOD! Wishing you a beautiful day Jewel, full of many smiles!

  7. Hi Stephanie .. as far as the coffee goes, absolutely and I'm a big coffee drinker (as wel as of various teas, but I'm very light on alcohol - so, moderation in all things, as they say ..

    The Cartesian model is still very much in evidence in traditional medicine tho' (although I agree more and more physicians recognise the inherent inter-relatedness of organs, systems and their functions), one need only run down the list of 'specialists' in the journals, or attempt to get beyond a basic degree in almost any subject to know that particularism is becoming more, not less the norm .. although I'll bow to your superior knowledge on the therapies available ..

    Number 5 is very interesting: I had a friend who would sleep while listening to talk news and wonder why she would wake everyday feeling tired and depressed - tried to get her to change to light classical but, alas .. haha ..

    Thanks for an informative discussion and the positive ideas .. KW

  8. I decided to read a couple more of your posts while I am here, and whoa, this one is just what I needed! Fate? Coincidence? Luck? Well, (my) Good Fortune, to say the least. All the tips are useful. I had recently begun deep breathing, but now I am going to try to incorporate some of your other ideas. THANKS!

  9. @MikeB - I am so pleased to know it may help you, or anyone. And in regard to the question of fate...I have a belief that the universe does often send you just what you need. Please let me know if you make more progress witih any of these tips.

  10. @KW - I'm always amazed at how, in Western medicine, the doctors treat the body as if it were a bunch of separate parts. What would you say if you brought your car to your mechanic for repair, and he told you you'd have to visit 5 different mechanics to fix the problem? Seems silly, doesn't it? Luckily, at last, some are starting to look at how everything inter-connects, which actually is the basis for almost all these tips.
    The #5 one is more potent a suggestion than one might realize. A daily diet of misery and horror can deeply affect us. Seems you already know of the value of it- but you are correct that most people don't even believe it could be true.

  11. Your mechanic analogy is very good Stephanie .. A lot of Western medicine is based on power and control .. instead of working with the body and the mind (which is a more powerful tool for self help than is given credit for in the Western school of thought) many practitioners use pharmaceuticals or surgery to force change - they treat the symptom rather than the cause, when adaptation to our environment is more effective in the long run ..

    Additionally, therapies that can be understood and practiced by people 'at home' are discouraged (and before you start: I agree - things are changing somewhat), because doctors, as with other 'specialists' in any field (even mechanics - "what do women know about cars?" haha) want their knowledge, technology and language to remain mysterious .. the less the 'ordinary' person understands the more power the medical community has ..

    When I was working with Native Americans, they called this European medicine - and considered treatment essential when suffering from a European illness, and the 'alternative therapies' - those based in healing of the spirit and integrating the individual within the community toward harmonious living in a holistic way, as Indian medicine ..

    Glad you enjoyed your weekend .. Ed Begley eh? Just saw him in a Woody Allen film the other day ..haha .. {;o)

  12. KW- thanks (glad you like the analogy!)I agree with you wholeheartedly! It is too bad that Wesern medicine as a whole feels it has to deride other healing modalities to assert itself - but that is what happens when healing/medicine becomes big lose sight of the true objective. Thanks for your very spot-on comments!
    Yes! Ed Begley Jr. is a very nice guy! It was fun seeing him. Hope it was fun seeing him in a Woody Allan movie too!