Techniques to reduce stress in your life

Services for Real Estate Pros with Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance

pic1. Meditate

If you're thinking meditation means twisting your body into an uncomfortable position and uttering "oohs" and "omms" for an hour, guess again. Any repetitive action can be a source of meditation. This includes walking, swimming, painting, knitting, any activity that helps keep your attention calmly in the present moment.

When you catch yourself thinking about your job, your relationship or your lifelong to-do list, experts say to simply let the thought escape, and bring your mind back the repetition of the activity. Try it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day and watch stress levels drop.

2. Picture Yourself Relaxed

Is your mind too talkative to meditate? Try creating a peaceful visualization, or "dreamscape." To start, simply visualize anything that keeps your thoughts away from current tensions. It could be a favorite vacation spot, a fantasy island, that penthouse in New York City -- or something "touchable," like the feel of your favorite silk robe or cozy sweater.

The idea is to take your mind off your stress, and replace it with an image that evokes a sense of calm. The more realistic your daydream in terms of colors, sights, sounds; even touch and feel the more relaxation you'll experience.

3. Breathe Deeply

Feeling stressed evokes tense, shallow breathing, while calm is associated with relaxed breathing. So to turn tension into relaxation, change the way you breathe. Try this: Let out a big sigh, dropping your chest, and exhaling through gently pursed lips.

Now imagine your low belly, or center, as a deep, powerful place. Feel your breath coming and going as your mind stays focused there. Inhale, feeling your entire belly, sides and lower back expand. Exhale, sighing again as you drop your chest, and feeling your belly, back and sides contract. Repeat 10 times, relaxing more fully each time.

flower4. Look Around You

Mindfulness is the here-and-now approach to living that makes daily life richer and more meaningful. It's approaching life like a child, without passing judgment on what occurs. Mindfulness means focusing on one activity at a time, so forget multi-tasking!

Staying in the present-tense can help promote relaxation and provide a buffer against anxiety and depression.

Practice it by focusing on your immediate surroundings. If you're outdoors, enjoy the shape and colors of flowers, hear a bird's call or consider a tree.

In the mall, look at the details of a dress in the window, examine a piece of jewelry and focus on how it's made, or window-shop for furniture, checking out every detail of pattern and style.

As long as you can keep your mind focused on something in the present, stress will take a back seat.


 5. Show Some Love

Induce the relaxation response by cuddling your pet, giving an unexpected hug to a friend or family member, snuggling with your spouse, or talking to a friend about the good things in your lives. When you do, you'll be reducing your stress levels.

Why? Experts say social interaction helps your brain think better, encouraging you to see new solutions to situations that once seemed impossible, she says. Studies have also shown that physical contact like petting your dog or cat may actually help lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.

6. Try Self-Massage

When your muscles are tense and you've no time to visit a pro, try this simple self-massage technique  Relax, and travel straight to Zen-land.

  • Place both hands on your shoulders and neck.
  • Squeeze with your fingers and palms.
  • Rub vigorously, keeping shoulders relaxed.
  • Wrap one hand around the other forearm.
  • Squeeze the muscles with thumb and fingers.
  • Move up and down from your elbow to fingertips and back again.
  • Repeat with other arm.

7. Take a Time-Out

Adults need time-outs, too. So when you sense your temper is about to erupt. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and put the stressful situation on hold. Take a few deep breaths and concentrate on releasing tension and calming your heartbeat. Quiet your mind and remember: Time is always on your side, so relax. The stress can wait.

8. Try a Musical Detour

Music can calm the heartbeat and soothe the soul, the experts say. So, when the going gets rough, take a musical stress detour by aligning your heartbeat with the slow tempo of a relaxing song. And you might want to make that a classical tune. Research shows that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium.

pic9. Take an Attitude Break

Thirty seconds is enough time to shift your heart's rhythm from stressed to relaxed.  The way to do that: Engage your heart and your mind in positive thinking.

Start by envisioning anything that triggers a positive feeling, a vision of your child or spouse, the image of your pet, that great piece of jewelry you're saving up to buy, a memento from a vacation -- whatever it is, conjuring up the thought will help slow breathing, relax tense muscles and put a smile on your face. 

Creating a positive emotional attitude can also calm and steady your heart rhythm, contributing to feelings of relaxation and peace.

10. Drink Hot Tea

If you're a coffee-guzzler, consider going green. Coffee raises levels of the notorious stress hormone, cortisol, while green tea offers health and beauty. Chamomile tea is a traditional favorite for calming the mind and reducing stress.

Black tea may be a stress-fighter, too. People who drank regular black tea displayed lower levels of cortisol, and reported feeling calmer during six weeks of stressful situations than those who drank a placebo with the same amount of caffeine.

Posted by

Sharon Lee

Comments (9)

Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

My favorite on your list is pet cuddles.  My cats and dogs can always make me feel better.  And they always seem to know just when I need it.

Oct 28, 2010 06:25 PM
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

One other thing that will help if you are in a difficult situation.  Remember faith and fear are reciprocal when one is up the other is down.

Oct 28, 2010 06:26 PM
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Sharon, these are wonderful reminders for all of us. Thank you!

Oct 28, 2010 06:30 PM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

I think gardening is meditative to me. I'm sure going to miss it the next few months! And I agree totally about music, although I don't know what it's like to take Valium.

Oct 28, 2010 06:49 PM
Rebecca Gaujot, RealtorĀ®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Sharon, #7 take a time out ... helps me reduce stress, I stop have a cup of hot tea and maybe read a chapter or two of a good book.

Oct 28, 2010 07:16 PM
Susan Mangigian
RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches

I'm with Tammy.  Nothing beats stress or uplifts my mood more than hugging and kissing my dog.

Oct 29, 2010 12:24 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTORĀ®
RE/MAX Realty Center 262-567-2455 - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

HI SHaron!  Hope you are well...great destressors...working out also helps me to relieve stress too!

Oct 29, 2010 01:52 AM
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Tammy-I know what you mean. There is nothing like cuddling with the fur people.

Elite Home Sales-I agree 100%

Maria-You are most welcome.

Joetta-Gardening is definitely relaxing. I love to grow both flowers and veggies. I am always sad when the growing season ends. Music is very mood changing and I don't know what it is like to take Valium either. I prefer nature's high.

Rebecca-That works well for me too.

Susan-You can't beat the love of a unconditional pet.

Kristin-Exercise is the best all the way around. I am doing well. Thank you my friend for asking.

Oct 29, 2010 01:40 PM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Wow, these are all super points Sharon. The one I like best is show some love. It is giving freely which in return you receive. Well illustrated post with excellent thoughts. Thanks.

Oct 30, 2010 10:00 AM