The holidays are here and it’s finally time to relax. Let’s release all that pent-up stress and pressure as we relax on a beach or hang out with family and friends. Some of us definitely had to deal with more stress this year than others, and it’s OK to admit when the stress is too much. So as we relax on our well deserved holiday, deep down we know that eventually, we are going to have to return to dealing with stress. We would all like to relax more and worry less, but what steps can we take to ensure that the stresses of work and life don’t get to us? Here are 5 keys to reduce stress and live a relaxed life:

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 1. Meditate

Studies have shown that just a few minutes of meditation a day can help reduce stress and anxiety. As health and wellness coach, Dr. Robbie Maller Hartman says: “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress”.

One of the simplest meditations to practice is the breathing meditation. Find a nice quiet area, sit up straight (on a cushion or chair), close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breath. Count 1 as you breathe in and 1 as you breathe out. Count to 10 and then start at 1 again. Meditate like this for just a few minutes a day for a more relaxed life.

2. Practice Mindfulness / Be Present

This is a lifestyle change that is more effective in the long run. Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. Slow down, spend time in the moment and focus on your senses. Being present relieves stress and lowers anxiety and depression.

Here is one technique to be present/mindful: take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. When you’re eating, enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.

3. Get A Massage

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Getting a massage can alleviate more than just physical pain, studies suggest that getting a massage can also help alleviate stress. Although I think anyone who has ever had a massage will tell you how relaxing it can be.

While going to a spa and getting a massage from a trained professional is an amazing, relaxing experience, it can be quite expensive. Luckily, these days it is inexpensive to buy a massager that you can use at home. Massagers like the Naipo Shoulder Massager Strap mean you can get a great, stress-relieving massage from the comfort of your own home.

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4. Exercise

One of the most important keys to stress relief is exercise. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones and releases endorphins which improves your mood and acts as a natural painkiller. Exercise also improves sleep quality and makes you feel more confident in your body, which helps lower stress and anxiety.

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights at the gym or running a marathon. Just exercise for even a minute is an improvement. For immediate stress relief, a simple walk around the office or taking a short break to stand up and stretch is enough.

5. Get Good Quality Sleep

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Lack of sleep is a key cause of stress, causing the brain and body to get out of whack. These symptoms only get worse with time. But the good news is that the opposite is also true; getting enough quality sleep is a key player in reducing stress and helps you fight anxiety.

To get some well deserved, quality sleep make sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Don’t go to bed late. At least one hour before bed, turn the TV off, dim the lights, and give yourself time to relax before going to bed (no electronics/looking at a screen). Good quality sleep may be the most effective stress-reducing item on this list.

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If you incorporate these 5 keys into your lifestyle, you can help yourself greatly reduce stress and live a more relaxed life. Of course, there are more stress-relieving habits you can do, but these key items will help you take the first major steps to relaxing more and enjoying life.

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