Take the Edge Off the Holidays: 6 Natural Holiday Stress Relief Tips

The holidays are usually a joyous and wonderful time of the year for most, but for many of us they can also be very stressful. Whether it’s related to gift-giving anxiety, travel upsets, inclement weather, difficult family dynamics, isolation or overindulgence, this time of year can make us all more susceptible to colds, flu, fatigue, depression and general malaise.

Instead of allowing ourselves to go into hibernation mode as there is less and less sunlight during the holiday season, we pull our coats tight and brave the cold weather, traffic jams, crowds, and long lines to get our gift shopping done (often at the last minute). We stay out late, drink too much, eat too much, and scramble under pressure to complete projects or plans before the close of the year.

Add the pressure of living up to the expectations of family and the inevitable weather-related travel upsets and you’ve got a recipe for major stress.

So what can you do to take a little bit of the edge off this time of year? Here are some tips to help you keep your stress to a minimum and improve your mood so you can enjoy the holiday season with some sanity:

Get plenty of rest. Stay hydrated and remember to breathe … deeply! Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night or make up for lost sleep by taking naps or sleeping in. Lower alcohol consumption and drink plenty of other fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated. And remember to breathe deeply.

Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars. OK, I know this is a tough one, but it can make a huge difference in how you feel! Refined carbs tend to spike then deplete your serotonin levels leaving you exhausted. So, indulge a little, but try to stick to healthier treats like dark chocolate or seasonal fruits. Balance things out by eating fiber-rich serotonin-enhancing foods like whole grains, root vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts, along with a little lean protein (turkey or fish).

Load up on Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research shows a strong association between Omega-3 fats and brain health. Definitely a case of the more the merrier! Your brain needs a certain amount of fat to function properly and remain healthy. but not all fats are created equal. Some of the ones you may think of as unhealthy are actually good for you (in spite of the conventional wisdom), while others that you may have been led to believe are healthy, are actually quite harmful for you due to their high Omega 6 content, not to mention the significant amount of processing that goes into making them. That’s why it’s important to increase you essential fatty acid intake during the winter months and times of high stress like the holidays. You can get your omega 3s from wild caught salmon, walnuts, avocados and chia seeds!

Slow down. Take time to savor and enjoy the rituals of the season. Stay present with yourself and everyone around you and practice forgiveness and acceptance. Remember, you can choose to let go of whatever is troubling you for the moment.

Reach out to others, especially those in need. The holidays can magnify feelings of isolation or loneliness for those who can’t be with family or don’t have family to be with. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and comfort if you are in need. Helping others in need also has a profoundly healing and uplifting effect, both physiological and psychological.

Surround yourself with uplifting and nurturing sounds and smells. During the holiday season it is especially important to surround yourself with soothing and uplifting smells and sounds. Listen to music that makes you happy and calm even if its not holiday music. A great place to start is with one of our Soothe collection of aromatherapy products. The combination of lavender, geranium, clary sage and chamomile essential oils in this blend help you stay calm and grounded, even when things around you are a little chaotic.

If you need a little extra help adjusting your mood try our Inspiration blend with it’s uplifting mix of citrus essential oils –sure to put a smile on even the most stubborn of scowls. If traditional holiday smells stress you out or make you depressed, avoid them as much as possible.

When it comes to Health . . . Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

By now we’re all familiar with John Grey’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus books designed to shed some light on the differences between the way men and women handle their needs (ostensibly so we won’t drive each other nuts!). The typical man (you know, the one that has to “withdraw into his cave”) is the one that doesn’t need any help getting things done or finding his way around. He refuses to ask for directions when he gets lost, he doesn’t need any help with chores, and refuses to pay a contractor to fix a leak that he’s sure he can plug for free. Men are problem solvers for sure, but they do have their pride! Whatever the biological explanation for this behavior may be, the simple reality is his refusal to seek help can and often does, result in his undoing especially when it comes to his health.

Women on the other hand, are another story. According to a study published in Psychological Review women are more likely to handle stress by “tending and befriending” because they produce larger quantities of the hormone oxytocin, which leads them to nurture offspring and create social networks. Because men produce less oxytocin than women, they are more likely to rely on their ”fight or flight” instinct when it comes to responding to stress. Stress can’t be beaten into submission with a stick, so men tend to run away from or avoid it. Their stubborn need to keep their pride “intact” usually keeps them from seeking help or finding a way to handle their stress.

Carl Pickhardt, PhD and spokesperson for the American Psychological Association says, “women risk letting other people’s needs determine their limits, while their own needs are ignored.”

Self-sacrifice and difficulty setting boundaries in relationships are both ways that many women add stress to their lives. Men are vulnerable to letting challenges, competition and other external factors set their boundaries and are more likely to focus on winning at the expense of the self. “Achieving a winning performance at all costs is how many men enter stress,” says Pickhardt.

At a basic evolutionary level, stress plays a common role in both men and women’s lives. It’s there to alert us to any threats or potential danger whether short-term in nature –like being chased by a perpetrator with a gun– or longer term. Unfortunately the longer-term stress is more subtle and builds over time so we often don’t recognize it until it has taken its toll. Modern day stressors like paying the bills, being responsible for the welfare of children and elders, and external events wreaking havoc on our lives have turned into an epidemic of chronic stress.

While men may be from Mars and women from Venus, it seems that with the current challenges we all face, men need to pay closer attention to their stress and just DEAL with it. And women need to pay closer attention to HOW they deal with stress and make changes as appropriate. Onward and upward as they say …

Help Dad Put the Brakes on the Stress Express: 6 Signs He May Be Headed Down a One-Way Street

May is all about moms, and let’s face it … most moms have it good on Mother’s Day. We like to treat our moms well because we love them; we make them breakfast in bed, buy them chocolate, and pick out a card or gift that really shows how much we care.

But when June rolls around and it’s time to show dad some love, things can get a little more challenging. Men aren’t always great at making their needs known, so its hard to figure out how to really show our love and appreciation for them on their special day.

Sometimes the best gift you can give dad isn’t one that comes wrapped in a bow … As it turns out, June gives us more than one way to celebrate the dads in our lives. In addition to Father’s Day, it’s also Men’s Health Week –a time intended to help men do something they’re not often inclined to do: focus on their health.

Because men are more goal-oriented and competitive, they often view health as something that can be measured in concrete terms like how many push-ups they can do, how much they can bench press, or how low their golf scores are. By default, this narrow focus means that other critical aspects of their health tend to get neglected, underscoring the need for Men’s Health Week to increase awareness of the importance of total-body health and health issues specific to men.

If you consider that chronic stress is the biggest and most overlooked factor affecting men’s health today, then one way you can show dad some real love is by getting him to adopt a total body focus to help him keep stress in check. Anything you do in that department will go a long way to keeping him healthier and happier. I can’t think of a better gift than that!

It’s no secret that when left unchecked, stress can lead to very serious conditions like chronic depression, and even fatal illnesses like heart disease and stroke. Men tend to exacerbate the effects of stress with their lifestyle choices –overdoing it in the gym, not getting enough sleep, ignoring diet and nutrition, overconsumption, or nursing an unhealthy attachment to work. And to make matters worse, they keep things bottled up inside –further compounding the effects of stress until it becomes obvious there’s no turning back.

So how can you know if your dad may be headed down a chronic stress collision course? Here are six key warning signs to watch for:

  • Irritability. When asked to do something, big or small, he snaps or lashes out, or easily becomes angry out of proportion to the cause.
  • Forgetfulness. He seems to frequently misplace his keys, papers, or other important items.
  • Lack of Motivation. He has difficulty starting projects at work or around the home. He shows little interest in going out or socializing and becomes increasingly withdrawn.
  • Loss of Concentration. He has difficulty finishing the projects that he starts, and often seems distracted when spoken to.
  • Muscular and Skeletal Aches and Pains. He suffers from unexplained aches and pains –especially in the lower back– and his injuries take longer to heal than they should.
  • Expanding Waistline. His struggles to lose weight may be due to more than just his love of sugar. A large belly may be the result of a buildup of stress hormones like cortisol, which also increase with lack of sleep.

Not surprisingly, work is the main source of stress for most men –lack of control, increased responsibility, tight deadlines, and poor work environments –all put a heaping pile of stress on a working man’s shoulders. These stressors are made worse for working fathers because of the added stress tied to being providers and their additional responsibilities at home.

While it may not be possible to remove the sources of dad’s stress, you can help him learn to manage and eventually reduce it before it takes a serious toll. Find ways to introduce him to meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques –these are the most natural cures for stress as they can alter brain wave activity in ways that quickly lower blood pressure and heart rates. Help him create a dedicated space that’s just his to enjoy some peace and quiet, and enlist the family’s help in re-prioritizing household responsibilities to allow room for more down-time. This will make even the most hectic of days seem more bearable. When in doubt, love, laughter and music can always bring levity and relief.

If your father is showing some of the warning signs listed above, then a visit to his health care practitioner is in order. Because men often have trouble asking for help and fear being seen as weak, you can show your support and concern by offering to make the appointment and accompanying him. Let him know that agreeing to do this is not a sign of weakness but an act of love.

Taking a trip to the physician’s office may not be as much fun as being pampered and showered with gifts, but helping your dad live a longer, healthier and happier life is as sweet as any box of chocolate!

 

Copyright 2009-2012 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or blog feed.

More Tips for How Parents and Kids Can Manage Their Back to School Stress

In this Good Morning America piece called Don’t Let Back to School Stresses Get to You, you learn a little bit about the different types of stresses affecting both parents and children. It also includes an interview where Dr. Marie Savard shares tips with George Stephanopoulos for how parents and kids can cut the stress related to going Back to School. If you’ve got kids and are dealing with Back to School stress, you might find the additional information and tips in this report useful.

Screen Shot from Good Morning America segment

Fighting Fatigue: 7 Tips to Help Plug Your Energy Drains

When someone asks you how you are, what’s your typical response? If you’re like most people your typical answer is probably “super busy,” “tired,” “overwhelmed,” “stressed,” or all the above. All of these are closely connected and usually happen sequentially, or simultaneously depending on your personal circumstances. Either way, you are not alone.

In the age of digital communications, 24-hour news cycles, social networks, email, and smart phones, we’ve become a wired society swirling in a relentless stream of information that demands our time and constant attention. At the same time, a sluggish economy means many of us are working longer and harder than ever before, multi-tasking like crazy, and left wondering where the time went.

The irony is that you’re probably not even aware of how much time you spend every day dealing with stressful situations and how much of a toll that stress is taking on your body and your health.

So how can you get a leg up and reclaim your energy and vitality? The first step is to identify the conditions and patterns that consistently drain your energy and plug them. Here are 7 tips for plugging some common energy drains:

  1. Check in and Take a BreatherShallow breathing is a basic but frequently overlooked energy drain. Most people take shallow, rapid breaths, using only about a third of their lung capacity, but your body needs a good supply of oxygen to properly metabolize food and create energy at the cellular level. If your cells aren’t producing enough energy then everything slows down and drags you down in the process.

    On the other hand, deep breathing slows your heart rate, which immediately calms and grounds you, lowering your blood pressure in the process. So awareness of your breath is the place to start. When you feel fatigued or stressed stop and check-in with yourself. Is your breathing rapid and shallow or deep and measured? Take 10-15 minutes a day to focus on your breath and practice deep breathing until it becomes second nature.

  2. Get in Touch with NatureIf you’ve ever been on a nature hike or for a long walk on the beach, you know that it’s hard to feel tired or stressed when you’re taking in all the sights, sounds, and expansive wonder of your surroundings. You can also experience a profound sense of calm and wonder by playing or connecting with a beloved pet. We are creatures of nature but modern living with its artificial constructs often makes us feel disconnected from source.

    Make a point of taking a walk outdoors first thing in the morning –preferably in an area surrounded by trees. If the weather permits, take your shoes off and walk barefoot in the grass. Or take time out to bond with your dog or cat. Even diffusing pure essential oils can help. Whatever you choose to do, find a way to re-connect with nature on a regular basis to boost your energy.

  3. Reduce Your Exposure to ToxinsBreathing clean air, drinking clean water, and eating clean (i.e. pesticide-free and hormone-free) food are the basic foundational blocks of healthy living and boundless energy. Having all three of these all the time may not always be possible but there are ways you can lower or minimize your exposure to toxins.

    Invest in a good water purification system and an air purifier for your home. Avoid cleaning, home, and personal care products made with synthetic and toxic chemicals, including candles with lead wicks and plug-in air fresheners made with synthetic fragrance. As much as possible eat organic food and use a fruit and veggie wash for produce that’s conventionally grown and harvested.

  4. Keep a Stress/Gratitude JournalAnother common and often overlooked energy drain is a lack of joy and connection that can pervade when we are constantly busy and stressed. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, withdraw from others, and slip into routines that keep you from doing things that make you truly happy.

    Keep a journal. At the end of each day write down all the things that made you feel stressed or disconnected, how you reacted to them, and the outcome of your actions. Then remind yourself of the things that make you happy or bring you joy (whether you did them or not), and acknowledge all the good things in your life. If you do this regularly and consistently you will soon start to identify patterns that keep you stuck and drain your energy. Then you can start consciously doing more of the things you enjoy and less of the things that make you anxious or unhappy.

  5. Tame the Negative Chatter BeastWhen we’re tired and stressed it’s easy to slip into persistent patterns of negative and pessimistic thinking. These thoughts feed on one another and keep spiraling around in your head, draining you and your energy –making it difficult to feel good about anything. First make sure you are eating enough protein. Protein is the fuel that your brain needs to function properly. When you don’t get enough it can lead to obsessive and repetitive thought patterns.

    Try setting an alarm or timer to go off at regular or random intervals throughout the day to help snap you out of any obsessive thought patterns you may get stuck in. This is known as a “pattern-interrupt” –an unexpected distraction that short-circuits your brain’s thought pattern. If you’re pessimistic by nature then work at shifting the language you use to describe events to others and especially to yourself. Replace self-defeating language with positive empowering language and notice how it affects your demeanor. Sometimes a subtle shift in your energy is all it takes to stop an energy drain.

  6. Set Boundaries and Stick to ThemMany of us (women especially) have trouble setting personal boundaries. The need to make our selves available to everyone is one of the fastest emotional and energetic drains we face. Without sufficient boundaries, even when you’re in a good mood, you can be easily de-railed by someone else’s negative emotions.

    Learn to set boundaries and put a quick and decisive end to tolerations –-things you don’t like or that drain you but you continue to tolerate. Learning to say “No” to people and situations that don’t support you is key. As you simplify and pull back, you create space in your life for positive, uplifting people, and activities that lift your energy instead of draining it.

  7. Unplug and MeditateWho among us doesn’t suffer to a certain extent from information overload? If you’re a news junkie or find yourself constantly checking emails or voicemail then you’re a major candidate for this energy zapping behavior.

    Do yourself a favor and unplug for a few hours a day. Give yourself the opportunity to be still and quiet and “tune out” for at least a half hour or so. Meditate, visualize, listen to motivational or hypnotic audios, music that relaxes you -–anything to quiet your mind and give it a rest.

Follow all or most of these tips for a few weeks and notice how your energy starts to shift and become more consistently available. If you have any other tips you’d like to share here, I would love to hear them!

© 2011 Dropwise Essentials

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Donya Fahmy, is a green business owner and the creator of Dropwise Essentials’ spa-quality aromatherapy body products that help you safely relieve stress, increase vitality, improve confidence, or simply manage your emotional state any time or place without popping a pill. For more free tips and valuable information visit www.dropwise.com and subscribe to the Dropwise Health & Beauty News Ezine or Aroma Zone Blog.

Reach Out and Touch Someone for Real This Valentine’s Day

The phrase “Reach Out and Touch Someone” was a clever and highly successful advertising slogan originally designed to encourage people to use long distance phone service to do just that. Its long-running success has been attributed to the way the ads effectively spoke to the emotional and “heart” connection that comes from talking to and sharing your feelings with someone you love or care about.

This advertising campaign was so effective it’s been credited with practically launching long distance phone services. We’ve come a long way since those days. Now, with the advent of email, smart phones and wireless Internet, the ability to communicate with practically anyone, anywhere, any time, has become almost ubiquitous. So much so that it’s hard not to wonder if the emotional connection that we crave and the positive feelings it normally generates are still possible with this type of frenetic and short-hand communication.

Picking up the phone and calling someone you love on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day makes perfect sense if they live far away or you’re not able to see them in person. But this year for Valentine’s Day, why not reach out and touch someone for real? Whether you celebrate this occasion with a romantic partner or by connecting with other people you love, the gift of touch can have a far more profound effect than the simple gesture of a phone call.

Studies in brain science show that touch is good medicine for both the body and the brain. Even the simple act of holding hands can significantly relieve stress and anxiety. The best news of all … the far-reaching positive effects of touch are not strictly limited to romantic gestures or even therapeutic massage. Many sensory experiences involving touch –caressing a baby, petting a cat or dog, or even receiving a handshake from someone– all positively affect your physiological well-being leaving you better equipped to manage stress which in turn, boosts your immune system.

Here’s why … your skin represents the body’s largest sense organ. Your body is wrapped in approximately eighteen square feet of it! Even a tiny cross-section the size of a coin reveals several million cells, up to 100 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and three feet of blood vessels. The human hand contains a staggering 100,000 nerves of at least 20 different types, while each fingertip contains more than 3000 nerve receptors. Together they interpret various touch sensations, and report to the brain on joint and muscle activity, pressure, temperature, vibration, and pain.

So you see, your magnificent skin acts like the eyes and ears of your brain –faithfully receiving commands and returning messages from the outside world. With the amazing power of touch, you literally have at your fingertips a variety of ways to offer gifts of love to those you care about!

The Best Essential Oils for Relieving Stress and Insomnia

Essential oils can play a valuable role in managing or relieving your stress and can help you induce a state of calm for a restful sleep. The trick is to find the right combination of oils that resonate with you, and then the best way or ways to use them for maximum benefit.

Let’s start by look at which essential oils have calming, soothing, and sedative properties that can be used alone or combined for even greater impact. Of course the first ones that immediately come to mind are Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium, Clary Sage, Cedarwood and Sandalwood.

Next up are citrus essential oils like Sweet Orange, Lemon, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mandarin, and Lime. While these oils are generally stimulating and uplifting, when used in small quantities and properly combined with other essential oils, they can do wonders for your state of mind, and state of mind is really what it’s all about when it comes to relaxing and falling asleep!

Other essential oils that are also useful in this area are Marjoram (Sweet or Spanish), which is a muscle relaxant, Fir Balsam, Spruce, Peru Balsam, and Melissa, all of which calm and balance the nervous system and assist with opening your breathing passages – enabling deeper breathing. And last but not least, Frankincense & Myrrh, which are often used to assist with meditation.

That’s a lot of essential oils I just listed! The key is to find three to five oils that work together and create a blend. If you’re not that into experimenting or don’t have access to a wide selection of essential oils, then start with individual notes and see how each makes you feel. Keep a notebook handy and record which ones and how much they helped. Then after you’ve identified a handful of oils that seem to work on their own, you can try combining them. Of course you can always try our Sleep Ease Diffuser Blend, which combines Tangerine, Lavender, Pine, Marjoram, Fir Balsam and Petitgrain, as a starting point.

Herbal Remedies & Amino Acids: Effective Natural Solutions for

Unless you shop the aisles at natural foods and supplement stores, when it comes to choosing or taking supplements most of you are probably unaware of the vast selection of herbs and amino acids available to address your health concerns.

Herbal sleep aids can come in the form of capsules, tinctures, tea bags or loose dried herb that can be used to make infusions – similar to, though slightly more potent than using tea bags. The most common ones used for relaxation and inducing sleep are Valerian Root, Passionflower, Skullcap, Chamomile, Lavender, Hops, and sometimes even Spearmint or Catnip. Rather than cause heavy sedation like Rx meds, most herbal remedies simply produce a calming effect that can assist in clearing the mind and reducing stress. They work fairly quickly, so you should know within 2-3 nights if the product you’ve chosen is the right one for you.

Valerian works by calming the nerves and relaxing the muscles, but it can have a stimulating effect in some people. Some natural sleep aids may have other side effects like morning grogginess or disturbing dreams. This is more often a problem with the dose rather than the nutrient itself. Lower the dose to minimize side effects. Also, it’s always best to take these products before going to bed rather than the middle of the night after not being able to sleep, or upon waking and not being able to go back to sleep. Actual response time varies from product to product and person-to-person, so a good rule of thumb is to use a natural sleep aid for 10 days to help regulate your body’s sleep cycle and then go off it.

Another overlooked natural solution to stress reduction and insomnia is amino acid supplementation. Amino acids like L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and Melatonin can greatly assist with sleep irregularities. L-Tryptophan creates Serotonin, one of the brain’s four key mood regulators, which in turn is converted into Melatonin – the amino acid that regulates your natural circadian rhythms and helps you sleep.

GABA is the brain’s natural calming agent, which prevents neurons from firing too many messages from the brain to other parts of the body. When combined with ingredients like low-dose Melatonin, it can help your body de-stress and wind down in preparation for a good night’s sleep. While Melatonin supplements can be helpful for shifting your body back into a regular rhythm, start with a low dose like 1 mg rather than the typical 3 mg doses they are sold in, and don’t over use it

L-Theanine is another important amino acid in this category – the amino responsible for green tea’s health benefits and helps create a “relaxed yet alert state of mind.” It encourages relaxing alpha wave production, even protecting the brain somewhat against the stimulant effect of caffeine. It can increase dopamine, modulate serotonin, and help raise levels of GABA (the brain’s natural calming agent), easing anxiety-induced insomnia without the grogginess.

Amino acid supplements usually come in a pill or capsule form.

Natural Solution for Insomnia: Reduce Emotional Stress with Meditation

Meditation is another valuable tool for managing or decreasing your stress. The whole goal of meditation is to calm the mind and free your self from the mental clutter and emotional baggage that can cloud your judgment and perception of the events in your life. With the hectic pace of everyday life, it’s easy to lose touch with who we fundamentally are, what matters to us most, and sometimes even the source of our discontent. You can think of it as “unplugging” yourself in order to create some space and distance to regain perception.

A lot of people think that meditation is hard to do and can’t imagine carving out a long stretch of time where they are doing basically nothing. But it’s in the “being” not the “doing” we can re-connect with ourselves and tap into our intuition. That’s where the answers within us lie, but before we can access them we have to quiet down and eliminate all the distracting noises in our heads. It’s also the best way to achieve the peace of mind that you need to get a restful sleep.

Meditation can take on a lot of different forms and doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time. You can take a class or find a good CD with guided meditations to help you get in the right frame of mind and begin practicing how to let go. One of my favorites is a box set by Sharon Salzberg called (fittingly) Unplug. It has 2 CDs with guided meditations, a companion guidebook and 32 contemplation cards. You can get a copy at Amazon.com.

Other favorites are meditation CDs from Shakti Gawain, author of Creative Visualization and Living In the Light. For some free, guided meditations you can download try Debbie Ford’s site at http://www.debbieford.com/index.php?cPath=14_20#meditations. For a larger selection you can purchase and download try Audible.com.

Visualization Technique for Mastering Deep Breathing

If you have difficulty getting started with deep breathing then try the following visualization technique:

Close your eyes and imagine that inside the pit of your stomach there is a deflated rubber balloon. As you inhale slowly through your nose imagine the balloon starting to fill up with air and see it expanding inside your stomach as your belly expands. Then as you slowly exhale out of your mouth, imagine the balloon deflating as your belly contracts, until it’s back in a flaccid resting state. Now repeat. Each time you begin to inhale, imagine the balloon getting bigger as it fills with air, pushing out against the insides of your rib cage. As you get into a rhythm and find this easier to do imagine the balloon also getting taller and expanding upwards. Do this as many times as you can (at least 6 or 8 in a row to start).

With consistent repetition you will find it easier and easier to do this until eventually taking long slow deep breaths will be almost second nature to you. Once you get to this point then you can take the ritual even further. Now follow this convention:

Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 5 (or whatever number feels most comfortable to you). Hold the breath for a count of 20 (or 4 times whatever your initial count was), then slowly exhale through your mouth to the count of 10 (or double whatever your initial count was). So the pattern is: Initial Inhalation Count=X; Hold for 4X Initial Count; Release for 2X Initial Count. Do this 10 consecutive times and repeat the whole sequence at least twice a day (once in the morning and once at night, and if possible sometime during the day).

You can use this technique to help you quickly recover from a bout of anxiety or emotional distress and change your brain chemistry to induce a state of balance and calm. And you don’t have to lie down to do it either. Of course, doing this routine regularly will also help with sleeplessness or insomnia associated with stress.