By Dawn Lettau, CTRS
Director of Therapeutic Recreation

It’s April – four months into the new year.  Did you resolve to take better care of yourself? Are you making strides in achieving a healthier you—mind, body and soul?

Making some small changes throughout the year will help you achieve your goal, like adopting an exercise routine and changing your eating habits to trim some calories.  With April designated as Stress Awareness Month, now is a good time to focus on a resolution to reduce stress.

Stress is part of our everyday lives. In fact, some stress is good because it motivates us to accomplish our goals—but stress can also have a negative impact on our health, compromising our bodies, our minds and our behaviors. We can fight those negative impacts by practicing stress reduction techniques, which help to lower blood pressure and relax our bodies. Here are some suggestions that you can use daily to help reduce the stress in your life:

BREATHE:  Close your eyes, inhale through your nose to a count of three and exhale though your mouth to a count of three. Repeat several times to calm your mind and body.

EXERCISE:  Taking a walk, doing yoga or participating in any cardio exercise provides a great outlet to decrease stress and has the added benefit of helping your waistline, too!

MEDITATE:  Add meditation to your daily routine. Just a few minutes per day can help reduce stress and clear your mind.

GET a MASSAGE:  The power of touch reduces stress dramatically!

LISTEN TO MUSIC:  Music affects the part of the brain that helps to relax us.

LAUGH:  Laughter truly can be the best medicine. Laughter releases endorphins, which helps trigger feelings of pleasure.

GIVE or GET a HUG:  Again, touch can be soothing to our senses, and sharing that intimate touch can reduce stress tremendously.

GRAB A BOOK:  Reading or playing cognitive games like word puzzles help provide a break from things that may be adding stress to your life.

TAKE BATH:  Warm water relaxes the body—sink in, and feel your stress seep away!

These are just a few of many quick stress reduction techniques. Of course, relaxation techniques are very individual, so do what works for you! Resolve to add one stress reduction technique to your routine each day, and you’ll notice a difference—mind, body and soul!

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