In This Issue  

Personal Training  

Hot to the Core  

Join My Mailing List  
Enter Your Email:

Welcome to my newsletter! I'm your source for fitness and nutrition tips to help you reach your goals and live life to the fullest.


In this issue, I'm featuring articles on relieving stress. Exercise is a powerful way to reduce stress and bring a sense of peace. But there are many other techniques which complement exercise. I strongly recommend everyone keep stress under control, because it contributes to many health conditions.

Everyone has a favorite trick to reduce anxiety, like bubble baths, listening to music, and going for a run. Let me know your favorite way to relieve stress!

What's Your Favorite Way to Relax?
Ten Ways to Reduce Stress

By Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.

The following are some wonderful ways to reduce anxiety and stress--and promote relaxation, calm, and peace within yourself. Some techniques take practice to achieve results. However, the results are well worth any effort, as a calm and relaxed body and mind are less prone to health issues than an agitated body and mind.

1. Breathing

Breathing strongly influences your mind, body, and moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing, and without doing anything to change it, you create relaxation.

There are many worse places to have your attention--on your thoughts, for one, since thoughts can be the source of anxiety, guilt, and unhappiness. Get in the habit of shifting your awareness to your breath whenever you find yourself dwelling on upsetting thoughts.

2. Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is a way of releasing tension in muscles. Often taught in yoga and by instructors like massage therapists and psychologists, there are many variations of progressive relaxation.

Here's one common technique. Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Take deep, slow breaths. Be aware of any muscular tension and release it. One way to do this is to first tense a muscle deliberately and then relax it. Start with your toes and move up to your head. Finally, lie still with your eyes closed, concentrating on your breath and enjoying the feeling of peace and freedom from tension.

3. Exercise

For many people, exercise is their main method of reducing stress and promoting relaxation. One of the benefits of regular exercise is its moderating effect on emotions. If you feel angry or upset, a brisk walk or a half hour of lifting weights will often put you back in a good mood.

While exercise is a great way to burn up excess energy, it does not teach you how to process stress differently. For that reason it is not recommended as your sole method of relaxation, but as a complement to another techniques. Yoga is an excellent promoter of relaxation as well as a good form of body conditioning.

4. Massage and Body Work

For a relaxing experience, get a massage or other form of body work. In order to benefit, you need to be totally passive and surrender to the touch of a skilled therapist. There is evidence that the state of the mind is reflected in the state of the musculature. Body work is one route into the unconscious mind.

Some of the best techniques are Trager work, a system that uses rocking and bouncing to lull the recipient into a dreamy, altered state, and watsu, done in warm water.

5. Visualization and Guided Imagery

Visualization and guided imagery involves using your imagination to influence your physical and emotional states. For relaxation and stress reduction, you may want to start with images you get from books or tapes. Or simply recall a scene from the past when you were supremely content, secure, and centered. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and picture yourself back there. Try to make the image bright and clear, and try to hear, feel, and smell the surroundings.

6. Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses technology to help you learn relaxation. You can develop awareness of an involuntary function and learn to change it. In a common biofeedback setup, temperature sensors are connected to your fingers, and skin temperature is converted to an audible signal, perhaps a beep tone: the faster the beeps, the higher the temperature. Your job is to make the beeps go faster by raising your skin temperature. To do this, you have to relax. The point is to incorporate what you learn into daily life.

Biofeedback works best for people whose tension is expressed in bodily complaints such as migraines, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, ulcers, and intestinal problems.

7. Meditation

Meditation is directed concentration. Meditators learn to focus their awareness and direct it onto an object: the breath, a phrase or word repeated silently, a memorized inspirational passage, or an image in the mind's eye. Whenever you become aware that your attention has strayed, gently bring it back to your chosen object.

Researchers have documented lowered blood pressure, decreased heart and respiratory rate, increased blood flow, and other measurable signs of the relaxation response. Try to meditate every day for 20 minutes.

8. Mantrum

Mantram is the practice of repeating in the mind certain syllables, words or phrases that help unify consciousness and counteract negative mental states. Repetition is a way of focusing the mind and counteracting the damage done to both mind and body by thoughts that produce anxiety, agitation, and unhappiness.

Mantram is especially helpful for people with restless minds, whose turbulent thoughts keep them from relaxing, concentrating, and falling asleep.

9) Hypnotherapy

Though hypnosis has fallen in and out of favor over the past few hundred years, it is currently accepted as a useful method of relaxation, pain control, and management of habits like smoking and overeating.

Hypnotherapy is a good choice for people who think they have no idea what it feels like to relax. A few sessions of hypnotherapy can also teach you how to use visualization for self-improvement and can help you begin a meditation practice.

10. Drugs and Herbs

Tranquilizers are used by many to relax, but are not as safe or effective as the methods described above. There are natural substances that you can try. Spearmint and chamomile teas are both mildly relaxing, and you can drink as much of them as you want. A stronger remedy is passionflower, available at health food stores.

A Quick Fix in Stressful Moments
Mini-Relaxation Exercises

Tips from Harvard Medical School

Mini-relaxations are stress busters you can reach for any time. These techniques can ease your fear at the dentist's office, thwart stress before an important meeting, calm you when stuck in traffic, or help you keep your cool when faced with people or situations that irritate you. Whether you have one minute or three, these exercises work.

When You've Got One Minute

Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.

Or alternatively, while sitting comfortably, take a few slow deep breaths and quietly repeat to yourself "I am" as you breathe in and "at peace" as you breathe out. Repeat slowly two or three times. Then feel your entire body relax into the support of your chair.

When You've Got Two Minutes

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 lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.

When You've Got Three Minutes

While sitting, take a break from whatever you're doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.

Creative Visualization
Get What You Want By
Imagining You Already
Have It

Creative Visualization

Can you complete a marathon just by imagining it? Is it possible to lose weight by thinking about it? If you dream of recovering from a sports injury, can it really come true?

Goals like these may seem beyond your reach. But you have the power to make them happen! A technique called creative visualization uses your imagination to help make dreams a reality.

Thoughts shape our life by influencing the choices we make. In creative visualization, you imagine your goal as if you already accomplished it. Once you imagine what it feels like to achieve your goal, it sets in motion the actions needed to create that reality.

Creative visualization was made popular by author Shakti Gawain. In her book (pictured above), she describes several mental strategies to help you achieve your goals.

How to Use Creative Visualization

To do a simple exercise in creative visualization, sit quietly and comfortably with your eyes closed. Start by stating your goal to yourself a few times so that it's clear in your thoughts. Then, imagine that you've already achieved that goal, and visualize every detail about it. What does it feel like? Where are you? What are people saying to you? What do you look like in a mirror?

Visualization in Sports

Successful athletes harness the power of visualization. Winners have an edge over their competition because they are mentally prepared to win.

Basketball legend Jerry West, whose silhouette is used in the NBA logo, had such a penchant for hitting buzzer-beaters, he was nicknamed 'Mr. Clutch.' When asked about his ability hit the big shot, West revealed that he had already made those shots time after time in his mind.

To prepare for a game or competition, athletes mentally rehearse what it takes to produce a desired outcome. Amazingly, research has revealed that visualization can enhance performance to nearly the same extent as physical practice.

Earn FREE Sessions! Get a friend into fitness, and earn free training sessions with me at the same time! I'll give you a free training session for each new client you refer to me. To qualify, the new client must schedule a package of 10 sessions.

Copyright 2013, Steven Reichert Personal Training

Phone: 202-232-1773