Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted April 4, 2011

Published in Lifestyle

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Guest Blog Post: How To Stay Positive: 5 Ways To Relax and Reduce Stress by Alexis Bonari

Read More: positive psychology, self-improvement, stress-reduction

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In today’s multi-tasking, pressure-cooker world of too much to do and not enough time to do it, it’s oftentimes impossible to not feel overwhelmed, to not get stressed out, and to not get down on ourselves about what we’ve failed to accomplish despite how hard we’ve worked. The following are some ways to assert yourself over that stress and negativity, so try one or more of them the next time you’re feeling down or anxious.

1. Replace Negative Self-Talk with Positive Mantras

Bombarding yourself with negative self-talk can be one of the most stressful things you experience each day. The good news is that you can control this big stressor by recognizing negative self-talk when it occurs and replacing it with positive thoughts. For example, if you tell yourself that you’re stupid for failing to remember something important, stop that thought in its tracks and focus on something you’ve done successfully. Remembering your successes can help you realize that you don’t deserve to be stressed out by your inner critic.

2. Use Breathing Techniques

It’s beneficial to take deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed. Simply inhale deeply for five seconds, filling your lungs – now hold your breath for five seconds before expelling all the air in your lungs for another five seconds. Try the same exercise with ten- and fifteen-second intervals as you start to feel calmer.

Another technique to try is cyclical breathing through your nose. Fold the index and middle fingers of one hand in toward your palm, then use the thumb of the same hand to block one nostril. Inhale through the other nostril, then use your ring finger to block that one as well. Hold your breath, then release your thumb and exhale through the unblocked nostril. Replace your thumb, remove your ring finger, and inhale again. Repeat until you begin to feel calmer.

3. Do Yoga & Stretches

Practicing yoga is always helpful when you want to relieve stress, so try some of these yoga-inspired stretches to relax your mind and body when you need it most.

  • Cat stretch – start on your hands and knees, preferably on a non-slip surface like a yoga mat. Let the weight of your head lengthen your spine toward the floor as you arch your back while inhaling. When you’re ready to exhale, bring your head up until your chin is level with the floor and allow your spine to relax into a concave shape as you release your breath. Repeat to release tension in your back and neck.
  • Spinal stretch – lie on your back on the floor with your legs resting against a wall at an angle somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees. Focus on allowing this position to lengthen your spine as you breathe deeply.
  • Twist stretch – sitting in a chair, place one hand on the outside of the opposite knee and twist your upper body in the direction of that knee, looking over your shoulder and keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep, then do as many as you need to in order to release the tension in your spine and neck.

4. Get a Massage

Give yourself the gift of a professional massage. This releases toxins and tension, removing the stress from your body. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water after your massage to flush out the toxins that have been released from your muscle tissue. If you don’t want to go out for your massage, persuade your partner or significant other to have a massage night – you’ll both benefit from this romantic and stress-relieving experience.

5. Treat Yourself to Music, Candles & Aromatherapy

As you practice the above techniques, add soft music, candles, and scented oils to give yourself a truly relaxing experience. Soft jazz or classical music can be used to release stress, and the calming effects of scented candles and oils might help you, too. Choose lavender, jasmine, chamomile, sandalwood, vanilla, or sage for some of the best stress-relieving results.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching scholarships for dietitians as well as scholarship thank you template. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.