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.