Well, we've almost made it to Friday, but not quite. How's your stress level?
Learning to manage stress may be just as important to overall health as diet, exercise, sleep and hygiene. At a recent Stress Management Forum hosted by Harvard School of Public Health & Huffington Post, clinicians, psychologists and mindfulness experts cited research showing chronic stress may contribute to heart disease, hypertension, anxiety and depression.
That's alarming since a recent Health in America survey found 72 percent of Americans believe their stress has increased or remained the same over the past five years, and the average American experiences more stress than they believe to be healthy.
Here's the good news: We can learn to manage stress.
When you feel anxious, nervous, strained or stressed, try this breathing exercise from Lilian Cheung, Doctor of Science, registered dietician and mindfulness expert with the Harvard School of Public Health.
Breathing in, silently repeat to yourself: I'm fully aware of my in-breath.
Breathing out, silently repeat to yourself: I'm fully aware of my out-breath.
Repeat in- and out-breaths five times.
In just moments, you will feel greater freedom accompanied by increased stability.
"Each time we choose to take mindful breaths instead of traveling through a self-perpetuating cycle of stress, we enforce new, healthy habits," she says. "We are creatures of routine, and whether or not we're aware of them, we create and reinforce patterns each moment. Better to choose habits of stress reduction than be led blind by coping mechanisms like sugar cravings and television addictions."
Check out more tips from Cheung to alleviate stress on Huffington Post.
And if the breathing doesn't work (or even if it does), stay tuned to Wellbody Blog for a healthy homemade popcorn recipe. Popcorn! A sure way to inspire your inner smile!
What helps you relieve stress? Share your de-stress tips by commenting on Wellbody Blog, Facebook, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll be entered for a giveaway of two free passes to Wellbody Academy and Pacific Science Center's other exhibits.