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10 TIPS FOR RELAXATION

Chances are, your ever-growing to-do list doesn’t include one very important task: Relax. But managing stress is key to staying healthy. Think you don’t have time to unwind? Each of these stress-relieving tips can get you from OMG to om in less than 15 minutes.

1. Meditate

A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.

The process can be simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting -- out loud or silently -- a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to synch the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.

2. Breathe Deeply

Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.

“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” says psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, a certified life coach in Rome, Ga.

3. Be Present

You rush through dinner, hurry to your next appointment, race to finish one more thing on your agenda. Now try something different: Slow down.

“Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness,” says Tutin. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food as you slowly chew. When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel the tension leave your body.

4. Reach Out

A good social support system is one of the most important resources for dealing with stress. Talking to others -- preferably face-to-face or at least on the phone -- is a great way to better manage whatever is stressing you out.

5. Tune In to Your Body

Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.

“Simply be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything,” says Tutin. For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that body part. Repeat this process as you move your focus up your body, paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.