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It has been a joy to work through our series on the small microhabits of health. As a review, there are six key components to optimal well-being: nutrition, movement, sleep, water, mindfulness, and stress management. Two weeks ago we unwrapped how mindfulness plays a role in our health. This week we are going to uncover ways to handle stress.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how stressed do you feel at work? At home? In your relationships? With expectations placed on you by others? Stress can also be caused by the food we eat, the amount of loud noise we hear, the environment we are in, toxins in the air. All of these situations can cause stress in our bodies, which causes inflammation, which causes water retention, which causes weight gain, which causes more stress. It is a vicious cycle if we let it control our body.

The good news there is hope to de-stress your life and body. As a certified health coach, I have the honor to walk my clients through many tools for reducing stress in the body. I will share a few of those today. As with any of these habits, it will take practice and time, but don’t give up!

De-stress your job: One of the major causes of stress in the workplace is lack of communication. You may feel like you don’t have the ability to express your thoughts or ideas and bottle things up. This causes your body to go into crisis mode and you can’t function at your best level. What can you do? Remember, nothing is worth you deteriorating your health. Have an open discussion with your boss or fellow employees to be heard and understood. More than likely they don’t even know you are bottling things up inside.

Exercise: Exercise is a fantastic way to lower your inflammation and decrease stress. Even if it is simple as getting outside during the day, with people you enjoy being around, and going for a 15-minute walk. Movement energizes your body, gets your blood flowing and helps you have clarity of mind. Schedule it into your day where you can find the time. Everyone can find a 10-minute slot or two throughout the day. Really!

Treat your body: This is one of my personal favorites. Get a massage. A massage has the ability to help you relax and restore balance to your musculoskeletal system when you are stressed, stiff or just worn slam out!

Do something you love: For my husband, his favorite way to de-stress is to go fishing or take a motorcycle ride. For me it is go on a hike, take a trip somewhere or meet friends for coffee. Whatever brings you that inner deep joy, go for it.

Laugh: Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and lower unhealthy hormone levels. In ancient Greece, the hospitals were built next to the amphitheaters so the patients could hear the laughter from the plays. Imagine all the natural healing that occurred! Watch a funny movie, tell jokes, or in the midst of a difficult situation, force yourself to laugh. You will be amazed at the endorphin rush that helps your spirits.

Deep breathe: This is the No. 1 way to quickly reduce stress in your body. By deep breathing you will circulate tons of oxygen to your brain causing you to feel relaxed. We breath almost 20,000 times a day, yet me never really think about how we are doing it. Stop for a moment and think about your breath. Is it shallow and short or deep and long. When we are stressed we tend to breathe with our chest muscles. Learning how to take deep breaths is easy.

The best way to do deep breathing is to think about a 1:2 ratio. You want to exhale for twice the length of time that you inhale. For example, if you breath in through your nose for a count of three, exhale through your mouth for a count of six. Then try breathing in for a count of four and out for eight, in for five and out for 10. After that short exercise, you will feel relaxed and refreshed. Don’t believe me? Try it right now. Go ahead!

Whether you try one, two or all of these strategies to de-stress, I promise you will be making strides in better health. It has been fun sharing with you over the past several weeks about the microhabits of health. As always, reach out and let me know any of your questions, thoughts, or successes. I love hearing from you. Find me on Facebook or email me at hbwiggs@gmail.com.

Honey Wiggs is a speaker, author and a certified health coach. Even though she lives in North Carolina, she has helped over 7,000 people across the country transform their lives one healthy habit at a time. Honey can be reached at info@legacyOfJoyInc.com or visit her website at www.LegacyOfJoyInc.com.

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