Wednesday, November 7

Relaxation: A Key To Health And Wellness
Natalia Sedo, NP

Today's guest post is from Natalia Sedo, a Boston based Adult Nurse Practitioner, Integrative Nurse Coach and Personal Life Coach. She has over 20 years of experience in helping people identify and achieve their personal, professional and wellness goals. Exercising is just one aspect of living a healthy lifestyle, something we know that our Bootcampers all strive to do. Read Natalia's blog below with some tips for how to manage and deal with stress levels for overall improved personal wellness. For more information about Natalia and to read her bio, visit

As a seasoned nurse practitioner and personal life coach, I have counseled thousands of people on how to improve their health.  An emerging and significant concern among my clients is how to deal with stress. High levels of stress can negatively impair our personal and professional success in ways we may not be aware of. It can also contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

A 2010 report from the American Psychological Association entitled "Stress in America" identified the most prominent adverse effects of stress:

Cognitive ability
Reacting prematurely, reduced impulse control, greater use of stereotyped judgments, making greater mistakes in cognitive tasks, poor memory, slower performance in shifting attention between tasks, and difficulty making decisions.

Headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, stomach upset, and sleep problems.

Anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, irritability or anger, sadness or depression

Over-eating or under-eating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, and social withdrawal

Incorporating relaxation techniques into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boosting your energy and mood. If you can put aside 10 to 30 minutes a day, one or more of these techniques will be highly beneficial.

Chemicals called neurotransmitters, produced in the brain, are stimulated during exercise. These neurotransmitters decrease pain, influence our mental acuity and emotions. Exercise helps us to feel better and to feel less stressed.  To achieve this, aerobic activity 20 minutes, a minimum of three days a week is recommended. However, even a 5-minute walk can produce a benefit.

Take a “time out” to breath 
easy relaxation techniquesTake 3-10 slow, deep, breaths, pausing after each breath. The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel. You also feel more alert. Allow the stress and tension to be released with each breath. Deep breathing triggers a relaxation response in your mind and body.

Express gratitude
A positive outlook decreases stress and increases the feeling of joy or wellbeing. Before bed list the best things that happened during the day or week. Fall asleep with those thoughts. In the morning, you will wake up in better spirits.

Do things you enjoy
Scheduling activities, whether it's dropping by your favorite bookstore or taking a long, hot shower, can quickly bring your life back into balance. Even the anticipation of doing these activities decreases stress. Give yourself permission to enjoy life in frequent bursts.

Get a good night sleep
Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue and decreased mental and physical effectiveness during the day. Most adults need around 8 hours of sleep. Since caffeine and alcohol disrupt sleep, it can be helpful to avoid them up to 8 hours before bedtime. Doing a meditation before bedtime is also a valuable technique to transition your body and mind into a peaceful state.

Relaxation techniques reduce the harmful effect stress has on your mind, body and spirit. Just as importantly, relaxation techniques provide clearer thinking during potentially stressful situations. Incorporating one or all of these tips into your life will help you open the door to a more productive and relaxed lifestyle.

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