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Monday, July 11, 2011

Relieving Stress Through Fitness and Nutrition

Stress in a person's life can be caused by many things, whether it be a good situation such as a job promotion, a move to a new home or a bad situation such as a relationship break-up or loss of loved one. No matter what the cause is, your body can help you cope with stress a lot better through nutrition and exercise.
Nutrition and exercise both play an important role in alleviating stress symptoms. Vitamins and minerals stored in the body are rapidly depleted when you are experiencing a stressful situation, therefore extra vitamins and minerals are needed during stressful times. Protein needs are increased when your body is under stress. This is because your body uses more amino acids to produce more stress hormones when you are experiencing stress. Also, your need for Vitamin C is increased dramatically. Take at least a 500 mg. of time-released Vitamin C supplement during stressful periods. It is not uncommon for a person to tolerate 4 to 15 grams of Vitamin C per day under physical or emotional stress. Extra doses of of the B Vitamins can also help you during a stressful period, helping to alleviate symptoms such as cloudy thinking, numbness and tingling.

Everyone should spend at least 20 minutes a day just to relax. There are many ways to do so which I will explain.

Going for a walk clears your mind, reduces tension and increases energy. It is an excellent form of exercise and it is easy to do . . . . and if you have a dog, take it along and he/she can benefit too! Tai-Chi and Yoga are both excellent stress reducers also. Choose an exercise program you enjoy.

Breathing and stretching exercises, when done correctly can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Calm yourself by controlling your breathing. Here are a few breathing/relaxation techinques you can try.

Exhalation Breathing

1. Lie on your back with your arms on your side.
2. As you begin to breathe in (inhale), raise your arms all the way up and over your head to the floor as you inhale.
3. Reverse the order; breathe out (exhale) slowly and smoothly as you return your arms to your side.

Do this several times for 10 minutes or longer.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can be done anytime, anywhere. It provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the boy to release endorphins, which are natural occurring hormones that re-energize and promote relaxation.

1. Slowly inhale through your nose, expanding abodomen before allowing air to fill your lungs.
2. Reverse the process as you exhale. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes when you feel tense.

Progressive Relaxation

This help technique help to relax tense muscles.

1. Sit or lie down on your back in a comfortable, quiet room. Close your eyes.
2. Make tight fists, hold for five seconds, then relax your hands. Do this three times. Pay attention to the different sensations of tension and relaxation.
3. Repeat Step 2 with all of your muscle groups: arms, shoulders, chest abdomen, back, hips, thighs, lower legs and feet. At first, it may take you 20 minutes to do this but with practice, you will be able to do this in about five minutes.

Stretching Exercises

Stretch No. 1

1. As you stretch, think about the area being stretched; imagine the tension leaving as you gently take these areas to their comfortable limit.
2. Exhale into the stretch; inhale on the release. Breathe deeply and slowly and do not hold your breath.
3. Close your eyes for better awareness of your body's responses.

Stretch No. 2

This is a great stretch to relieve stiff muscles.

1. Sit up straight and inhale.
2. Exhale letting our head move down to your chest.
3. Roll your right ear toward your right shoulder while inhaling. Drop your chin to your chest again while exhaling. Repeat to the left.
4. Drop your arms to your sides and push both shoulders forward. Slowly rais them towards your ears and circle them back and downward to the starting point. After two or three rotations, change directions.

Getting a good night's sleep is very important to stress reduction. If you are having trouble sleeping, get up and into a chair and read a book , watch T.V., play Solitaire or just stay up and enjoy yourself and eventually, you will feel sleepy. If that fails, at least you will be relaxed and anxiety is reduced. Resist the urge to nap during the day and do not exercise during the evening. Spend your evenings "winding down" rather than "reving up". Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola) past 2:00 p.m. Hot milk before bed can help you get a good night sleep.

Remember physical fitness, positive thinking, healthy lifestyles and feeling good about oneself promotes better well-being.

Source: Gloria Ferri, Relieving Stress Through Fitness and Nutrition

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