Each January, millions of people resolve to live a healthier lifestyle in the coming year. Particularly given all of the toxic and traumatic events that have played out on the global stage in recent years, one of the healthiest New Year’s resolutions you can make is to choose effective ways of reducing stress levels. You certainly can’t prevent all stress-causing events, but you can find healthy ways of coping with them. Here are some ideas for stress reduction in the new year.
Some of the ways you can lower stress and become more mentally and physically resilient include:
● Listen to your body. Our bodies react to stress in a variety of ways: rapid heartbeat, tension headaches, clenched teeth, nausea, irritability, and more. When you feel these physical symptoms, take steps to correct them. Take a break, take a walk, do some stretching, or make yourself a cup of calming herbal tea. Don’t let physical stress reactions go unchecked.
● Give meditation a try. Meditation can help to relax your mind and body at the same time, as well as improve your sense of peace, balance, and control. It also helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Some forms of meditation include yoga, guided meditation, the ancient Chinese medicine of Qigong, and Tai Chi.
● Learn breathing techniques and exercises. Mindful breathing is another way to disrupt acute symptoms of stress and help your body receive nourishing oxygen. You can learn about various breathing exercises online, in books, or by taking a class. Some examples include deep, slow breathing, and counting seconds between breaths.
● Harness the healing power of music. A little calming background music can go a long way toward changing your mood and even your perspective on a stressful situation. Choose music artists and genres that promote relaxation and concentration without intruding on your thought patterns.
● Get plenty of exercise. Ensuring that you get some form of exercise at least 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes at a time can have enormous health benefits. Exercise reduces anxiety, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the body, and increases your lung capacity (so you can get the most out of those breathing exercises)!
You can use all of these stress-reducing strategies at once when you practice Tai Chi, which is known as a form of “moving meditation.” Look for a class near you to start your year off on a calm, mindful footing.
The Tai Chi Foundation (TCF) is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes, funds, and teaches programs that enable people to learn Tai Chi Chuan and embody its principles.
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