woman doing yoga to relax and release stress


When Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls,” the year was 1776. But considering all that we’re going through this year; he could have been talking about 2020. We’ll get through this difficult time, but it’s a real test of will, especially if you are running a business. In some areas, spas and massage practices opened only to be closed again because of spikes in Covid-19 cases. Keeping healthy and not succumbing to stress is more necessary now than ever to deal with all of the challenges and changes affecting business.


Take a Deep Breath

Something as simple as “breathing” can make a huge difference in dealing with this stressful situation. When you take a deep breath, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. As a result, increased heart rate, fast breathing and high blood pressure, which occur when you are stressed, decrease.[1]    


Here’s how to take a calming breath: [2]

  1. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.
  2. Hold your breath to the count of "three."
  3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.


Destress with Meditation

Another way to keep calm is to take time during the day to meditate. When you meditate you focus your attention and clear your mind of thoughts to give you a sense of calm and peace and achieve balance. Physically, the relaxation response from meditation helps in a number of ways. It can help decrease metabolism, lower blood pressure and improve heart rate, breathing and brain waves. The body receives a quiet message to relax and that helps alleviate muscle tension and tightness.[3]


Also, some research suggests that by physically changing the brain, meditation could help boost the ability to process information, reduce inflammation, support the immune system, control the brain’s response to pain, improve sleep and more. However, more research is needed in these areas. [4]


Try Yoga to Unwind

Lots of people extol the virtues of Yoga to improve strength, flexibility and endurance. It’s also good for your heart because it’s known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate.  And the benefits of Yoga aren’t all physical.  Yoga involves paying attention to your breathing, which can help you relax and unwind. You have a number of options to try with yoga.

  • Hatha: Hatha yoga includes postures and breathing exercise to help bring peace to the body and mind. While there are many variations of Hatha yoga, the basic moves are relatively gentle and slow. It’s considered good for someone starting out in yoga.
  • Bikram: Consistency is the hallmark of Bikram yoga. Bikram repeats the same 26-pose postures and two breathing techniques to boost the meditation factor. Also, the room is heated to 105 degrees F. with 40 percent humidity.
  • Vinyasa: Vinyasa yoga involves synchronized breathing. It consists of a series of poses in which you inhale or exhale as you move from one to the next. The movements are very smooth and flowing so that this type of yoga is sometimes referred to as Vinyasa Flow or flow yoga.
  • Ashtanga: Ashtanga yoga is similar to Vinyasa in that it involves synchronizing breathing with a series of poses. There are six series of poses in total, increasing in difficulty as you move from the primary series on. Ashtanga yoga is vigorous and fast-paced. A strong body, calm mind and improved circulation are considered the benefits.
  • Power: Power yoga is an active style that was adapted from Ashtanga but doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses. Considered to be a “gym yoga,” classes vary widely. Power yoga emphasizes strength and flexibility.


Pick up a Book

Reading a book is a simple way to chill. Reading has been found to help decrease blood pressure, lower heart rate and reduce stress to significant degrees. As part of a study at the University of Sussex, the stress levels and heart rates of volunteers were increased through tests and exercises before they then were tested with a variety of relaxation methods. Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 percent. [5]


Indulge in a Warm Bath

When it comes down to how to relax, don’t forget the benefits of taking a warm bath. Initially, a hot bath will raise your heart rate and temperature. In order to dispel the heat, you perspire, which rids your body of toxins. Then your blood vessels dilate and increase circulation, removing lactic acid from muscles, lowering blood pressure, and easing pain.[6]

So, don’t let the stress get you down. Try one or more of these stress-relieving activities during these “trying times.”


[1] “Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation,” Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, accessed August 2, 2020. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255
[2] “Breathing Problems During Anxiety,”anxieties.com, accessed August 2, 2020. https://anxieties.com/57/panic-step4
[3] Lerche Davis, Jeanie, “Meditation Balances the Body’s Systems,” WebMD, accessed August 2, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/transcendental-meditation#1
[4] “Meditation to Boost Health and Well-Being,” American Heart Association, accessed July 13, 2020. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/meditation-to-boost-health-and-wellbeing
[5] “Reading ‘can help reduce stress,’” The Telegraph, March 30, 2009. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html
[6] Low Dog, MD, Tieraona, “3 Baths to Soak Away Your Stress,” Prevention, December 19, 2012. https://www.prevention.com/life/a20467145/relaxing-baths-to-ease-your-stress/
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