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Improve Your Health and Reduce Stress with These 5 Tips

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The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but can add some additional stress. In 2015, reduce your stress levels and find more balance in your life with these five strategies.

1. Exercise. We all know that exercise is good for the body, but did you know that there are a lot of mental health benefits as well? Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce stress. When you exercise, norepinephrine is released into the brain, so don’t hesitate to take some time to sweat it out. If you don’t have time to head to the gym, taking a walk on a nature trail or even around your neighborhood can do a lot to improve your mood.

2. Practice Relaxation Techniques. For many people, yoga and tai chi are excellent ways to clear the mind and find balance in a chaotic world. There are many techniques worth exploring to help reduce anxiety, some being:

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Meditation. The simple act of meditating has helped me during times of great stress. Even during moments of chaos, taking a minute to take a couple of deep breaths can help bring me back to the present moment. If you’ve never meditated before, Deepak Chopra offers great guided meditations. Wayne Dyer is another great resource for guided meditation.
Hydrotherapy. Since ancient times, hydrotherapy has been widely used to reduce stress and heal the body. Today, people no longer have to go to expensive resorts or day spas to experience the healing effects of a spa. Take a moment to relax in your own spa in the privacy of your backyard and allow the warm water to ease your tension.
Reiki. The Japanese word Reiki (pronounced rey-kee) is an energy which is used to help heal and balance the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Like a massage that works out the kinks in your muscles, Reiki can remove any blocked energy pathways to help your body restore itself. To learn more, check out the book Reiki for Life by Penelope Quest.
3. Gratitude Journal. Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” If you take time each day to write down five to ten things you are grateful for, you will be amazed at how your world view will shift, as you focus on the positive energy in your life.

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4. Positive Thinking. There has been talk for years about the power of positive thinking, but today science is finally proving its benefits. Positive thinking has been linked to a number of health benefits including: increased lifespan, lower depression rates, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and so much more.

5. Visualization. Like meditation, taking time for visualization can help calm anxiety and reduce stress. When you feel stressed, take a moment to picture yourself in a relaxing, safe environment, and include all your senses. As you visualize your calming space, what does it smell like? What do you hear? Taste? If you’ve never practiced visualization before, it can take some practice, so be patient with yourself. Another fun way to visualize is to write or draw what you see in your meditative space. However you choose to visualize, take time to use all of your senses and give yourself permission to enjoy the experience. Remember, there is no wrong way to visualize.

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