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Breathe In, Stress Out Small acts of mindfulness that bring big benefits

Busy lives inevitably lead to stress. Persistent stress, if not managed, may lead to higher levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and other stress hormones; constricted blood arteries; and a fast heart rate. This significantly impacts heart health and our overall well-being. To counteract this, consider incorporating these simple strategies to maintain physical and mental wellness.

1. Begin your day with a few minutes of morning meditation. This practice reduces cortisol and epinephrine, regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It also fosters whole-brain synchronization, enhancing creativity, learning, focus, and attention. A few minutes of meditation in the morning prepares you for a busy day.

2. Opt for a gentler wake-up routine by avoiding loud and jolting alarms. Allow natural light to awaken you or choose an alarm that gradually increases in volume for a calmer start to your day.

3. Combat anxiety with deep breathing exercises. Redirect your attention from virtual chaos to soothing routines that ground you in the present moment. Slow and deep breathing has the power to calm and reset the body and mind.

4. Journaling can be a powerful tool to express and process emotions. Expressive writing not only provides temporary relief but also enhances emotional understanding. Studies have shown that this practice can reduce anxiety by organizing inner turmoil or helping us process our feelings.

5. Take a walk. Whether outdoors in the sunlight or within your workplace, walking can alleviate stress and clear your head. Make it a habit to take a break in the middle of the work day and head out for a few minutes of walking.

6. Drink water, or tea, mindfully. Focus on the sensory experience to promote relaxation. Enjoy your tea break alone or with a friend.

7. Embrace the stress-relieving power of gazing out the window. Take this opportunity to peel yourself from the screens or monitors and relax not just your eyes but also your mind. Opening the window for fresh air is a bonus.

8. Breaks are important. Even brief moments can significantly impact mental health, improving productivity and well-being. Even short breaks are potent tools against stress and anxiety.

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