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"Five Easy Steps to Simple Stress Relief"

Everyone has to deal with stress at one time or another. And in some ways, that’s not a bad thing. Stress keeps us at the top of our game. If we didn’t care whether or not we succeeded at work, hit it off with a new friend, or learned a new task, we’d never be motivated to move outside our comfort zone, and oh how dull life would be!

While a little stress is a great motivator, however, too much stress can make us sick in both body and spirit. If you’re experiencing too much stress, try these simple stress relief techniques.

Simple Stress Relief Tip #1: Exercise Regularly

If you’ve had a long hard day, a treadmill or an aerobics class is probably the last thing you want to face. Before you retreat to your couch, however, remember that exercise is a great way to blow off steam if you’ve had a tough day. Exercise also floods the brain with neurotransmitters that increase your sense of well being. And since many people stress over the size and shape of their bodies, following a regular exercise program can alleviate this source of tension.

Simple Stress Relief Tip #2: Don’t Binge Drink

It’s okay to have a glass of wine or a beer in the evenings—the newest research suggests that it might even be good for you—but don’t drink to the point of intoxication. It may temporarily ease the stress you’re feeling, but since alcohol is a depressant, you’ll only feel worse in the long run. And if you thought your boss was hard to handle before, just imagine what he’ll be like when you’re nursing a hangover.

Simple Stress Relief Tip #3: Employ All of Your Senses

An old cliché reminds us to “take time to smell the flowers.” Even if sniffing roses isn’t your thing, however, the spirit of the advice is correct. Sometimes in this rush, rush, rush world we live so much in our heads that we all but forget about our bodies until some ache or pain reminds us. Take some time to enjoy a soothing massage, soak in a tub of hot water, savor a delicious meal, light a candle and enjoy the scent, or appreciate the feel of your dog’s furry ears under your fingers. It’s amazing just how relaxing a place your body can be when you choose to inhabit it fully.

Simple Stress Relief Tip #4: Make Time for the Things You Love

Are you a book lover who hasn’t made a trip to the library or the local bookstore in ages? A pet owner who hardly ever has time for your pet? Whatever you love to do, whether it’s watching television, playing computer games, writing in a journal, or taking a long walk on a beautiful trail, do your best to make time for it. Participating in activities you love is part of what makes life worth living.

Simple Stress Relief Tip #5: Keep a Brag Book

It’s human nature to remember the negatives at the expensive of the positives. For instance, you can probably recite almost verbatim the last criticism your boss gave you. But do you remember the last compliment? When someone says something nice to you, even if it’s admiring an outfit you hate or complimenting you on losing weight when you’ve actually gained ten pounds, take a moment to write it down. When you’re feeling stressed, you can go back to your book and read all the wonderful things about yourself.