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Title:8 ways to say NO to stress

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Drowning in tension due to your hectic lifestyle? We dish out some relaxation techniques to relieve your mind and body

Today, we live in a fast-paced world, constantly juggling with work, family responsibilities and social lives. A much-waited job promotion, a not-so-great appraisal, relationships that are breaking up, spouse-related conflicts, child's illnesses, bad grades or perhaps even the death of a dear one, are reasons enough to generate stress. As a result, you are constantly being victimised by stress, whether its mental, physical or emotional. Stress often has harmful repercussions on your health, state of mind, behaviour and attitude. You can't completely eliminate stress out of your life but you can help yourself to deal with it and minimise its harmful effects. Follow these easy relaxation techniques that will help ease your stress quotient...

Deep breathing
You've been breathing continuously since the day you were born. However, proper breathing can not only be relaxing but also relieves stress and increase your energy levels. If yoga and meditation ain't your cup of tea, try deep breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths is one of the simplest and easiest ways to relieve stress.

Begin by either sitting or standing straight (your back should be straight, no hunching!). Place one of your palms on your stomach. Breathe in slowly taking deep breaths and exhale slowly. Now try holding your breath while inhaling and exhaling for about five seconds. With practice you can increase holding your breath for 10 seconds. After doing these breathing exercises, a sense of calm will prevail.

Yoga
Yoga is one of the most efficient ways to curb stress. That is because yoga is a combination of meditation and exercise. It helps in strengthening the mind and body and relieves muscle tension. No wonder celebs are into yoga big time, whether it's Shilpa Shetty or Madonna. Padmasan or the Lotus pose is a great way to unwind. Sit with your back straight, legs crossed and feet on your thighs (if this is difficult, sit with your legs crossed, the normal way). Keep your palms on your knees, with your arms straight (do not bend your elbows). Close your eyes, inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Focus on your breathing. Begin by practising for three minutes and gradually increasing the the time. Shavasan or the Corpse pose includes lying flat on the ground on your back. Keep your hands and legs apart at 45-degree angles. Close your eyes, keep your body as loose as you can and stay still like a corpse. Inhale and exhale slowly. Begin by practising for five minutes and gradually increase your time.

Imagery
Guided imagery is also known as diversion or in a layman's term, daydreaming. All you have to do is let your stressed out mind escape to calming scenery or situations. When you are stressed out, take a few minutes to sit back on your chair and close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply. Imagine yourself on a secluded beach with lush palm/coconut trees and the beautiful ocean or imagine yourself on a green and cool forest with fresh, fragrant, colourful flowers. You can choose to escape to any scenario, preferably where it is very quiet and not to some wild party. The trick is to magically transport yourself to a serene place/situation, thus, invoking relief from your stress.

Music
By music we mean serenading music and not heavy metal. Listening to soothing music helps relieve stress and alleviate your mood. Sit back, close your eyes and listen to relaxing music for about 20 minutes. You can choose from a range of music like classic instrumental music (either desi or international), Gregorian chants, Buddha Bar, Yanni, Kenny G to even Chinese relaxation music.

Aroma therapy
Taking a luke warm bath after a long stressful day can be a rejuvenating experience. Burning some scented candles around and adding aromatic oils of flowers can soothe both your mind and body. Vanilla and cinnamon flavoured oils in particular are effective as stress relievers. Its no surprise that at spas, aroma therapy oils are often used for most types of massages.

Spending time with pets
Whether you have a dog, cat or a fish tank at home, they can function as effective stress busters. Petting your precious pup or kitty will not only make them feel loved but also make you feel better. Simply watching fish swimming is a calming experience.

Take a nap
Taking a short nap is known to be a great way to beat stress. Why do you think power naps are called so? Studies have shown that a short nap of 15 minutes can minimise stress and can make one feel energised. Make sure not to get tempted and sleep off!

Hot beverages
Having a cup of coffee or tea is not only enjoyable but also quite relieving. Caffeine acts as a stress buster and helps improving the mood. However, one must be careful to consume tea and coffee in moderation as excess of it can be harmful. If you're not a tea or coffee drinker, try hot chocolate. A nice steaming cup of hot chocolate will definitely cheer you up!

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