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Give Stress the Pink Slip

Give Stress the Pink Slip

Got a few minutes, but not a few bucks? In less time than it takes to eat a sandwich, you can give stress the pink slip -- and reduce your risk for everything from heart disease, diabetes, and snapping at your spouse to high blood pressure, sleep problems, and less-than-stellar immunity.

And it won't cost you a dime. That's good news, because escaping to a fabulous tropical resort sounds like a good idea, but it becomes a source of high anxiety when you get the bill. Not so when you try these three fast, free tension tamers:

  • Close your eyes and follow your breath. Regularly meditating (at your desk, before you start your commute, even before you get out of bed in the morning) counteracts the toxic effects of stress. Pay attention to your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale. Try putting your fingers over your belly button to help stay focused. Yes, your mind will wander. Just invite it to listen to your breath again. Try sniffing this scent for added stress relief.
  • Read the comics, or call your funniest friend. Laughing increases blood flow and relaxes blood vessels. It reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that increases fat accumulation in your belly and makes your kidneys retain salt and water, which boosts your blood pressure. Find out how cortisol causes wrinkles, too.
  • Relax your face and neck. Scrunch your face tightly for 15 seconds, then release slowly. Repeat several times. Repetitive contraction and relaxation helps release tension.

Here are two more feel-good or feel-calm techniques:

  • Controlled breathing
  • Muscle relaxation
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