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Often the work place can be a stressful environment.  One way to deal with daily stress is by taking a few minutes throughout the day to pause and relax.  Harvard Health Publications suggest that techniques such as deep breathing, visualization and mediation can evoke a state of rest and release. Doing them can slow your heartbeat, calm your breathing, and lower your blood pressure. So how can you fit this in to an already busy schedule?   By keeping the techniques brief and simple.   Here are a couple of techniques from Harvard Health Publications.

Breathe in slowly.  Pause for 3 counts.  Breathe out.  Pause for 3 counts. Continue to breathe deeply for 1minute pausing for 3 counts after each breath in and out.

Count down slowly from 10 to 0.  With each number take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling.  For example breathe in deeply saying 10 to yourself.  Breathe out slowly.  On your next breath say nine and so on. If you feel light headed count more slowly to space your breaths further apart.

The most common obstacle to meditation in the workplace is remembering to do it.  One technique I use with my clients is to set a timer on their phone to go off periodically.  For example a bell or a chime that sounds and reminds you to pause and breathe.  Harvard Health Publications suggest a blue dot sticker.  Place the dot on your computer, your day timer or anyplace that would remind you to take one minute to improve your day.

Do you ever have difficulty relaxing? Sometimes in the middle of a stressful day it is hard thinking of ways to feel more peaceful. Here is a list of 10 ways that I have found helpful.

BREATHE Take time throughout your day to take 3 deep breaths.

PAUSE When you are feeling stressed pause and use your senses to ground you. Notice your surroundings, pay attention to what you see and hear. Take a deep breath. Light a candle. Some find lavender, jasmine, vanilla or orange candles to be soothing.

WATER Have a glass of water or make a cup of herbal tea. Some calming teas include Chamomile, Honey lavender, and Kava.

EXERCISE Take a walk, a run or do whatever kind of exercise is calming to you.

I’m on the fence about making New Year’s resolutions.  On one hand, it seems like a good idea to set a new goal and a new year seems like the time for a fresh start; on the other hand, if I don’t follow through and make these things happen, I have come up short.    I came across a blog from Berkley’s Greater Good website and it has me rethinking resolutions.

Dr. Christine Carter says that people often pick things that are too hard to complete so they set themselves up to fail.  She suggests picking just one thing, breaking it down into increments and taking small steps toward creating a new habit.

Here are three of her favorites resolutions:

1. Spend more time with friends. Study after study shows that we tend to be happier when we feel connected to our nearest and dearest, when we feel like we are a part of a group or a clan. Even introverts don’t like to feel lonely; this may seem like the science of the blazingly obvious, but it bears repeating. Do you frequently feel isolated or lonely? Make a resolution to routinely reach out to others.

End-of-the-year projects, reports, final exams, holiday pressures and expectations. On top of all of this we often become sick.   How does stress impact our health?

"The increased cortisol level induces likelihood of infection during the holidays," said Dr. Robert Hasty, assistant professor of internal medicine at Nova Southeastern University's medical school.

Cortisol is a natural hormone that responds to stress, lowering immunity and making you more susceptible to infections.”

How can you keep your immune system strong?  One way is by managing the stress in your life.   Best selling author and health and wellness expert Deborah King gives 10 Suggestions for managing stress during the holidays.

1. You can’t do everything (and you shouldn’t have to).
Consumer culture is designed to make you feel like you’ve failed if your holiday isn’t perfectly choreographed and ready for a Martha Stewart magazine spread, but you are just one person! This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel, but rather understand that you may not be able to plan the company holiday party, bake pumpkin pies for the whole neighborhood, and hand-make all your gifts. Delegate where you can, take a few shortcuts, and generally give yourself a break this year.

When you are grieving, when you have pain, when your life is not going the way you had hoped or thought that it would it can be hard to be thankful.  That is the time when gratitude can help the most.  Yes being grateful has positive health benefits.  According to a November 2011 Harvard Health Newsletter gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.  They go on to give ideas for cultivating gratitude on a daily basis. Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

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