The Fix – How to take incredible pictures with your phone

August 12th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Fix – How to take incredible pictures with your phone | Posted in Lifestyle

10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on 10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_148172258Pet owners know how much their furry friend improves their quality of life. But it’s not all about unconditional love—although that actually provides a wellness boost, too. On an emotional level, owning a pet can decrease depression, stress and anxiety; health-wise, it can lower your blood pressure, improve your immunity and even decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. But the positives don’t stop there. Read on to discover all of the incredible health benefits that can come with owning a pet.

Decreases Stress

University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby. Promises Treatment Centers, which specializes in addiction, not only recommends its patients consider getting a pet, but even allows pets in its rehabilitation facilities, according to David Sack, MD, CEO of Promises. “One of Promises’ core beliefs is that we need to remove obstacles that prevent people from getting help,” Dr. Sack says. “We are committed to making Promises a safe and reassuring homelike environment. And what could be more like home than to have your pet accompany you?”Photo: Thinkstock

Lowers Blood Pressure

While some studies have found a stronger connection than others, having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America and author of the upcoming book Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress: You might lose your job, your house, your 401(k)—but you’ll never lose the unconditional love of your pet.”

Read More

The Health Benefits of Dogs and Cats

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Health Benefits of Dogs and Cats | Posted in Lifestyle

How Caring for Pets can Help You Deal with Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

The Health Benefits of PetsIf you’ve ever owned a pet, you already know how much fun and affection they can bring. But did you know that pets also come with some pretty powerful mental and physical health benefits? Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for a dog can help children grow up more secure and active or provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a dog can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.

How do dogs improve mood and health?

More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).

While most dog owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with canine companions, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond. The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

Studies have also found that:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs (and cats) fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with dogs, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.

How can dogs help you make healthy lifestyle changes?

Adopting healthy lifestyle changes plays an important role in easing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Caring for a dog can help you make healthy lifestyle changes by:

  • Increasing exercise. Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements—and exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy.
  • Providing companionship. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for a living animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Most dog and cat owners talk to their pets, some even use them to work through their troubles. And nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail and wet kisses.
  • Helping you meet new people. Dogs can be a great social lubricant for their owners, helping you start and maintain new friendships. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks, hikes, or in a dog park. Dog owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
  • Reducing anxiety. The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world. Because dogs live in the moment—they don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow—they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.
  • Adding structure and routine to your day. Dogs require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps a dog balanced and calm—and it can work for you, too. No matter your mood—depressed, anxious, or stressed—one plaintive look from your dog and you’ll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet.
  • Providing sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. Stroking a dog lowers blood pressure and can help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.
 

Read More

The Benefits of Pets (Why Pets Help Kids)

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Benefits of Pets (Why Pets Help Kids) | Posted in Lifestyle

Manners & Responsibility: Raising Responsible Pet Owners

shutterstock_227100319Children love their pets — and for good reason. Creatures large and small teach, delight, and offer a special kind of companionship.

Everyone knows that kids love animals. A quick safari through your child’s bedroom will remind you just how densely imaginary critters populate the storybooks, movies, music, toys, decor, and clothes of childhood. In real life, the amount of money we spend on our pets has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, rising to more than $38 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. That figure dwarfs the toy business ($23 billion) and candy industry ($24 billion).

Overall, an estimated 4 in 10 children begin life in a family with domestic animals, and as many as 90 percent of all kids live with a pet at some point during their childhood, says Gail F. Melson, PhD, professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University, in Indiana, and the author of Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children.

When I was growing up, I always had at least one dog padding beside me on every adventure, and my wife was raised on a farm. So we planned all along to make animals a part of our child’s life, and we are delighted by how enthusiastically our daughter, Natalie, has embraced pets. Her natural zeal and passion for critters of all kinds has led to our current menagerie of one German shepherd, three cats, a freshwater aquarium, a confoundingly long-lived tank of mail order Sea-Monkeys, and, because we live on 4 1/2 acres of Pennsylvania woods, an endless series of cameo appearances by turtles, mice, moles, frogs, toads, tadpoles, ducks, geese, and slugs — to name just a few of the creatures that have come to visit.

All these beasts have been beneficial to Natalie’s development, but we’ve been surprised by how wide-ranging those benefits have been. Like most parents, my wife and I counted on the commonsense idea that having pets around would help teach our daughter responsibility, and maybe empathy. But we’ve also learned that the presence of animals in our house helps foster her emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development. And I’ve discovered there’s plenty of solid evidence to back that up.

Here are five reasons to let the fur fly in your home.

How Pets Help with Learning

While book groups are the rage among her mother’s friends, Natalie has her own reading tribe: We often find her curled up in her bed or lying in a den of blankets in a quiet nook of the house, reading to one or more of her cats. She pets them as she reads, stops to show them pictures and ask them questions. She even reassures them during scary parts of the story.

That’s no surprise, says Mary Renck Jalongo, PhD, education professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals. Educators have long known that bringing therapy animals (mostly dogs) into schools helps developmentally challenged kids learn. Now they are finding that all children can benefit from the presence of a nonjudgmental pal with paws. In one study, children were asked to read in front of a peer, an adult, and a dog. Researchers monitored their stress levels, and found that kids were most relaxed around the animal, not the humans. “If you’re struggling to read and someone says, ‘Time to pick up your book and work,’ that’s not a very attractive offer,” Dr. Jalongo says. “Curling up with a dog or cat, on the other hand, is a lot more appealing.”

How Pets Provide Comfort

In another study, children were asked what advice they would give less-popular kids for making friends. The top answer didn’t focus on a cool toy or must-have sneakers. It was: Get a pet. Whether a hamster or a horse, Dr. Jalongo says, an animal gives a child something to talk about and a shared interest with other kids.

Animals are also a great source of comfort. Dr. Melson asked a group of 5-year-old pet owners what they did when they felt sad, angry, afraid, or when they had a secret to share. More than 40 percent spontaneously mentioned turning to their pets. “Kids who get support from their animal companions were rated by their parents as less anxious and withdrawn,” she says.

Read More

New Manager Checklist: 5 Things You Need to Know About Being a Good Leader

February 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on New Manager Checklist: 5 Things You Need to Know About Being a Good Leader | Posted in Lifestyle

to-be-manager

Congratulations! You’ve just been promoted to your first management position. You’re going to be responsible for leading and motivating your team to accomplish overarching goals for your organization. Now what?

If you’ve never been in a leadership role before, you may be a bit intimidated by the prospect of having a group of people look to you for answers. Many first-time managers learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t, but there are still a few things you can do to make the transition easier. Management and HR experts shared their advice for succeeding as a new manager.

When you move up to a leadership position, your day-to-day activities and overall role in the company are obviously going to change. The challenge that many new managers face is understanding how the skills and strengths they gained in their previous position can help them adjust to their new one.

“Changing roles is like making a pivot in a basketball game,” said Ashley Goodall, chief learning officer at business consulting firm Deloitte. “You are anchored by your areas of strength, and they don’t change as you move. But the expectations of you shift as you go in a new direction. As you move into a management position, you will be orchestrating the work instead of doing it. The trick will be to pay attention to the expectations of your new role and to figure out how to put your strengths to work in different ways.”

Goodall advised identifying your current strengths and building upon them to fulfill the expectations that come with your promotion.

As a nonmanagerial employee, you probably didn’t have access to a lot of the company information your boss did. Now that you’re a leader, you’ll be a more involved in planning and strategy work, and it’s important to keep your team informed about what’s going on in the organization as a whole.

“First-time managers often underestimate the importance of transparency,” said David Niu, founder and CEO of employee engagement tool TINYpulse. “They often hold information that their team members don’t have access to. They can avoid being seen as uncommunicative by being willing to share information such as budget, customer feedback and strategic plans. Transparency can also help staff better understand their role as part of a bigger picture and thus, feel more connected to the company and team.”

 

Read More

What Makes a Good Leader? Simple Ways to Improve Your Management Skills

February 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on What Makes a Good Leader? Simple Ways to Improve Your Management Skills | Posted in Lifestyle

to-be-manager

What makes a good leader is the use of effective management skills such as spending 50 percent or more of their time listening carefully.

Great leaders understand that some of the best leadership qualities entail listening to others with undivided attention.

When was the last time you actually listened single-mindedly to one of your staff members?

Can you remember when you last listened to someone without interruptions or distractions from either telephone calls or drop-in visitors, when you just focused intently on the person speaking with you, ignoring all else? When CEO Alan Mulally arrived at Ford, he used a technique he had refined at Boeing. He found a way to instantly shift the senior executives on his team from talkers to listeners by changing the way he evaluated his team’s performance.

“It always comes down to incentives. What’s the incentive for someone to behave differently? Is it recognition, time, or more money? No. It’s usually visibility,” he said.

Read More

What does it take to be a manager?

February 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on What does it take to be a manager? | Posted in Lifestyle

to-be-manager

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to taking on a managerial role.

Many organizations elevate the top performing employees into management positions as these individuals are often regarded as the trusted experts in their area. Unfortunately, by promoting an individual who hasn’t developed the right skill set and experience to navigate the management playing field, an organization can end up with an ineffective manager and a demoralized team.

So what do you need to know before you take the critical step into management?

To be a manager: know what’s expected of you as a manager

While the offer of an impressive title and increased salary package is tempting, moving into management takes some careful consideration. Looking past the immediate gains, there are some potential costs, such as longer working hours and increased daily pressure. For some individuals, the costs won’t be worth the benefits.

Ask yourself these questions before stepping up into a management role:

– Will I enjoy leading a team?
– Am I willing to confront people about their behaviour or performance?
– Am I comfortable making decisions?

If you don’t feel ready to tackle the above scenarios, or feel you’re more motivated by being an exceptional individual performer rather than banking everything on a broader team, a managerial role might not be the best fit for you. Alternatively, you may decide that being a manager simply isn’t part of your personal career goals.

To be a manager: what are employers looking for?

If you decide you are ready to step up and prove yourself to be an effective leader, you’ll need to show your boss that you’re ready to take on the additional responsibility. This is especially the case if you don’t have previous experience in a managerial position. Here are some of the skills employers are looking for in their management team:

Soft skills – when it comes to hiring an effective manager, most employers are looking for soft skills as much as serious technical qualifications and abilities. You can be the top performer in your team, but if you’re not a particularly good listener or you don’t buy into the company vision, you’ll be much less likely to be given managerial responsibilities. Other important soft skills include time management, negotiation, teamwork, delegation and communication.

Leadership – one of the most important soft skills a manager should have is the ability to inspire, direct and lead others. A good leader leads his or her team towards a particular goal or vision, guiding them through challenges and hurdles to achieve a clear objective. Creativity, magnanimity and even a good sense of humor are all traits that can assist you to become an effective leader.

Business acumen and administrative understanding – you don’t need to be an accountant to become a manager. However, team managers do need to demonstrate an understanding of administrative processes and basic financial models because they are usually responsible for budget allocations. Budget management also involves working with other teams and departments to complete projects and meet deadlines, so will impact the output of your broader team.

Read More

5 Steps To Become A Manager

February 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on 5 Steps To Become A Manager | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_188617211Many people reach a point in their careers when they decide they’d like more responsibility. Becoming a manager can be an excellent way for professionals to advance their career development and even earn more money.

Managers are responsible for coordinating and overseeing many company projects and everyday tasks. That makes their position a unique one within the company – one that holds particular importance for maintaining business success. But becoming a manager isn’t always easy, you’ll often find yourself competing against other qualified candidates and co-workers to snag the position.

Here are five steps to take toward becoming a manager in your company:

1. Let Your Aspirations be Known. If you aspire to become a manager, don’t stay quiet about it! While you don’t have to border on obnoxiousness, it’s still important to let the right people know you’re thinking about taking the next step so they can help you get where you want to be. Let your current manager or boss know you aspire for more, and work with them to develop the skills you need to eventually make the transition.

2. Become a Mentor. Ask your manager or boss if opportunities exist for you to become a mentor, or join a professional organization in your industry that will set you up with a mentee. This can be an excellent way to show you have the expertise to work closely with others and develop solid interpersonal relations – a must in any managerial position. Or, consider taking on a mentor yourself – someone who has more experience than you can help you to prepare for more responsibilities.

3. Strengthen Your Skills. As a manager, you’ll experience less leisure time, more authority, more leading, and tons of other new requirements. For this reason, it’s important to strengthen your skills to ensure you’re prepared to step up to the plate. Actively assess the skills you already have, and talk to those already in managerial positions to determine what skills you need to acquire. Do your research, stay up to date on industry trends, and seize any opportunity to strengthen your abilities.

4. Show Your Worth. It’s important to put your ambition into action. If you feel as though you need to show your boss how valuable you are before you can have a chance at landing a higher position, consider setting up a meeting and prepare a presentation that highlights your accomplishments and commitments to the company thus far. Provide concrete numbers to describe your accomplishments (“increased client leads by 40 percent,” or “managed accounts of advertisers contributing to a total budget of $200,000”) to make your arguments irrefutable.

5. Ask for Feedback. Ask your higher-ups and coworkers to assess your performance so far. Do you do a good job of responding to conflict? Do you react well to stressful situations? Are you able to lead a group without trying to take too much control–or too little? Glean feedback from your coworkers or managers to determine where your strengths are and where you need to improve. Not only will this show you’re open to feedback and continual improvement, but it will show you value the opinion of individual group members, something that any manager should commit to.

Becoming a manager can be an excellent way to advance your career and prepare you for further professional opportunities. As 2012 comes to a close, make a commitment to taking these steps next year to increase your chances of landing a higher role in your company.

Read More

Defining Minimalism

November 4th, 2015 | Comments Off on Defining Minimalism | Posted in Lifestyle

If you have decided to live with less, you may have also wondered about minimalism. Reading about modern day minimalists and people living simpler lives may have you confused about what minimalism really is. How can all of these people be minimalists, when their lives are so different?

How can they all be living the same lifestyle?

Minimalist lifestyles range from people who live in small apartments in the city to suburban homes. Minimalists travel the world and live out of a backpack and they also live in neighborhoods and foster their communities. Always a little different, they usually decide that, “enough is enough” and come to realize that the American Dream of working more, to make more, to spend more and have more isn’t working. They choose to live life on purpose. While there are similarities, minimalism is defined differently by each person, and each person modifies the definition as time goes on.

Why does the definition change over time?

At the beginning, you may define minimalism as cleaning out your junk drawer. When you start to unclutter, you immediately see the benefits of living with less. This benefit may be something as simple as always being able to find that one thing you used to spend time looking for. As you start to enjoy the benefit, you look for ways to live more simply. What starts out as an external journey (giving things away, cutting the cable), becomes very personal, intentional and more meaningful. You start to think of “stuff” as not just things but obligation, debt and stress. Then you see how this “stuff” is getting in the way of your LIFE and decide to make a bigger change. It’s at this point that minimalism becomes more about who you are, instead of what you have.

What minimalists have in common:

Read More

Simple Living. The Earlier, the Better.

November 4th, 2015 | Comments Off on Simple Living. The Earlier, the Better. | Posted in Lifestyle
minimalism-sooner-the-better

I find it difficult to admit most of my life was wasted chasing the wrong things. Looking back, it has become increasingly clear how I spent the first 33 years of my life chasing temporal, material possessions. I thought my life would improve as I acquired them.

It was supposed to be the “American Dream.” But I was all wrong.

While my household possessions were not extravagant, they accumulated over years—especially as we moved into larger and larger homes. Each move would result in more rooms to furnish and more empty closets and storage areas to keep our stuff. Fashions changed and thus, we bought new clothes. New technology emerged and we purchased new gadgets. Kids entered our family and with them came toys, gifts, hand-me-downs, and purchases “necessary” to raise them correctly.

Eventually, our possessions began subtlely to control our lives. We spent countless hours cleaning, sorting, organizing, repairing, replacing, removing, and maintaining our physical possessions—not to mention all the time we spent on the front end earning the money just to make the initial purchase in the first place.

Our pursuit of material possessions was controlling our checkbook, draining our energy, and robbing us of true, lasting joy.

But then, everything changed.

When I was 33 years old, we began giving away all the possessions in our lives that were not absolutely essential to our purpose and goals. Eventually, our family removed over 60% of our earthly possessions. And we couldn’t be happier. We found more time, money, and energy to pursue the things in life most valuable to us: faith, family, and friends. We discovered far greater fulfillment in life pursuing our passions than we had ever discovered pursuing possessions.

And now, my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner—that we wasted so much time, so many years, and so many resources. If I could do life over again, I would have embraced a minimalist life earlier: my teens, my twenties, or as a newly-formed family. As a result, from the very beginning, we would have experienced:

Read More

The Top 10 Tips I’ve Learned From Minimalists

November 4th, 2015 | Comments Off on The Top 10 Tips I’ve Learned From Minimalists | Posted in Lifestyle
tiny-house-2

I’m not going to covet other minimalists’ lives anymore.

I don’t travel the world with a single backpack.

I haven’t packed up my family to travel across the country in an RV for a year.

I am not a single woman with a futon, a suitcase and a laptop.

I didn’t choose 600 square feet of dwelling space with a hobby farm ‘round back.

YET, I adore reading about these amazing people and their even more intriguing journeys toward transformation. In perusing books and blogposts, these characters seem like old friends. We’re all rooting for them. Their triumphs and courageous leaps of faith provide the inspiration for our own stories. However, through all this story following, I have found there is not one formula for choosing a simple life…it is not a one-size-fits all t-shirt. No matter what our life looks like, I do believe each and every one of these intentional & devoted people can teach a lesson worth learning.

A kind of minimalism for the rest of us sort of thing.

Read More

Downshifting To A Simpler Life

November 4th, 2015 | Comments Off on Downshifting To A Simpler Life | Posted in Lifestyle
Downshifting means working towards simple living by making conscious choices to leave materialism behind and move on to a more sustainable lifestyle. It does not mean simply cutting back and trying to live the same life only with less money. Downshifting requires prioritizing, an adjustment in values, and a totally different mindset… not just a change to a more frugal way of living.

People decide to downshift for a variety of reasons. Many want to get away from “living competitively”… job stress, consumerism, and feeling they have to live up to someone else’s expectations. Other people downshift because of a life changing experience, health reasons, or a crisis in the family. Often downshifting comes out of a wish to conserve natural resources. Whatever the reason, downshifting isn’t limited to any age or income level.

shutterstock_278440328

Once the decision to downshift has been made, then comes the question of how. Usually the first step is to create more free time for yourself by working fewer hours. This may involve something as simple as cutting down on overtime, or it may involve changing jobs or deciding to work at home. There is no one solution that fits every circumstance because everyone’s situation and needs are different. Taking your time to analyze your own options will prevent you from making any hasty spur of the moment decisions that you might later regret.

Hand in hand with a change in the number of hours worked is the need to consume less and therefore spend less. As you prioritize your true needs and wants, you will find that many of the “things” you used to spend money on no longer seem important. You will also discover that a more balanced life will feel very empowering because your new simple living changes will result in actually having more options and access to more discretionary money even though you are earning, spending and consuming less than you did before.

Here are some downshifting ideas to get you started, but keep in mind that living a simple life is not about self-denial… you should not give up something that is really important to you.

Read More

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief

August 11th, 2015 | Comments Off on Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief | Posted in Lifestyle

Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You

Relaxation Techniques for Stress ReliefFor many of us, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response.

You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, and yoga. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy and mood.

The relaxation response: Bringing your nervous system back into balance

Stress is necessary for life. You need stress for creativity, learning, and your very survival. Stress is only harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium that your nervous system needs to remain in balance. Unfortunately, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly common characteristic of contemporary life. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques can bring it back into a balanced state by producing the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.

When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. The relaxation response puts the brakes on this heightened state of readiness and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

Producing the relaxation response

A variety of different relaxation techniques can help you bring your nervous system back into balance by producing the relaxation response. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused.

Learning the basics of relaxation techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour. If that sounds like a daunting commitment, remember that many of these techniques can be incorporated into your existing daily schedule—practiced at your desk over lunch or on the bus during your morning commute.

Finding the relaxation technique that’s best for you

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique, consider your specific needs, preferences, fitness, and the way you tend to react to stress. The right relaxation technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind and interrupt your everyday thoughts in order to elicit the relaxation response. In many cases, you may find that alternating or combining different techniques will keep you motivated and provide you with the best results.

How you react to stress may influence the relaxation technique that works best for you:

  • The “fight” response. If you tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down, such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or guided imagery.
  • The “flight” response. If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise, massage, mindfulness, or power yoga.
  • The immobilization response. If you’ve experienced some type of trauma and tend to “freeze” or become “stuck” under stress, your challenge is to first rouse your nervous system to a fight or flight response (above) so you can employ the applicable stress relief techniques. To do this, choose physical activity that engages both your arms and legs, such as running, dancing, or tai chi, and perform it mindfully, focusing on the sensations in your limbs as you move.

Read More