Feeling a bit stressed? Here’s how to shift that!

4 Ways to DeStress and Center Yourself

When you are incredibly busy, it’s very easy to get caught up in the trivial stuff of life.

When this happens to me, I stop what I am doing, and get in touch with my spirituality: my wise inner self. This helps me cope with life’s challenges in a positive, effective way.

You can do this too; focus on what makes you happy, what brings you peace, and what fills your heart with joy!

When you focus on your inner self and emphasize the importance of being the best YOU no matter what, things have a way of working out. Life gets better.


DeStress tip #1: Begin a meditation practice. 

Nothing will tune you up like meditation! Don’t know how?

Begin by remaining in bed, lying down, before you get up in the morning. Focus on your breathing.

Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Feel your breathing, and feel your appetite. Tune into exactly how you feel at that moment. Take a few minutes to set your intentions for your day. Consider what you want to accomplish, and remind yourself what is important to you.

Take a few moments to observe your thoughts, and see them from a non-judgmental perspective.

Next, see your whole body being filled with sparkling light – from your toes to the top of your head.

Don’t try to spend an hour at this practice; just a few minutes will work very well. I “coast” into my day first thing in the morning, before I even get out of bed. Just a few moments of mindfulness make a big difference.

Fine tune tip #2: Take a time-out.

No, I’m not trying to make you feel like a five-year-old who just wrote on the wall with crayons.

Even when you have a busy day, you can still take a moment here or there to de-stress and center yourself. Even just for one minute, take a deep breath, relax your body, and become open to a higher perspective.

If you take those few minutes you’ll be amazed at how much more productive and focused you become! You’ll know you’re in the Revolution when you place your hand on your chest or on your abdomen to remind yourself of the intentions you set when you coasted into your day first thing that morning.

This is Dr. Mary’s Favorite Yoga Post, except while lying down in bed.

Fine tune tip #3: Look in the mirror every night.

Before you go to bed each evening, take just a few minutes to look at yourself in the mirror. Gaze into your beautiful eyes and see all of the reasons why you’re so lovable.

Yes, you may be inclined to notice your “flaws” as well – we all do that to ourselves. See the beauty, because it’s definitely there! When you get into the habit of “mirror love” you’ll find it to be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself!

Fine tune tip #4: Find your happy thoughts. 

Also called a “mantra,” an affirmation is something positive you think in your mind to counteract any negative thoughts.

How do you come up with your perfect affirmation? You can use something like “I am capable and productive.” Or, you can become aware of some of the negative thoughts you’re thinking, and replace them with an affirmation based on the opposite of that.

For example, if you catch yourself thinking “I can’t get in control of my life,” then turn it around with an affirmation! Instead, begin to repeat (as often as possible) something like “I can do anything I want to do.” Even just a few affirmations per day will start to create a positive ripple effect in your life!

What tip resonates with you the most? If you just begin a good thing, it will take shape and continue to empower you!

Fine tune tip #5: Take a deep breath to de-stress

Many studies show that how you breathe can have an important effect on your body and mind.
Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps eliminate your stress response

The stress response is what your body does when it prepares to confront or avoid danger. We call it the “fight or flight” response.

Sometimes, this is a perfectly appropriate response. It can help you rise to a challenge and it does protect you.

The problem occurs when your stress response kicks in too often to confront less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money problems, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship issues.

People who are under constant stress often end up with health concerns, such as high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing your susceptibility to colds and other illnesses.

In addition, when stress builds up, it may contribute to anxiety and depression.

You can’t avoid all sources of stress in your life, nor would you want to. But you can develop healthier ways of responding to stressful situations and events.

One way is to invoke the relaxation response, through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a state of profound rest. You can get into that state in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Focused breathing techniques help you initiate the relaxation response. And the first step is learning to breathe deeply.

The benefits of deep breathing

Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.

For many people, deep breathing seems unnatural.

One of the biggest culprits is our culture’s obsession with body image. Since a flat stomach is considered attractive, many women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.

And shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.

On the other hand, deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.

Practicing breath focus

Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and helps you remove or ignore distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).

Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of breath focus. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.
Ways to elicit the relaxation response

Several techniques can help you turn down your response to stress. Breath focus helps with nearly all of them:

Creating a routine

You may want to try several different relaxation techniques to see which one works best for you. And if your favorite approach fails to engage you, or you want some variety, you’ll have alternatives. You may also find the following tips helpful:

Updated: March 18, 2016

Originally published: January 2015




The difference between sitting on the couch and heading out for a good run begins with your mind. Your body will follow your mind. If you catch yourself thinking negatively, turn your mind around with these these powerful mantras…

I Am Committed.
Focus on getting dressed, then getting outside, then walking, then running in bursts. Breaking things up into short do-able tasks makes things easier and demonstrates your commitment over and over again.

I Am Strong.
Focus on your good knee or healthy shoulder. Imagine how proud you will be when you finish.

I Am Fast.
Remember that you’re beating the people who still haven’t gotten off the couch.

I Deserve It.
Sweating every day extends your life, in quality and quantity.  It’s yours for the taking.

Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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