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Knock Out Stress

8 tension-relieving tips from David Posen, M.D., author of The Little Book of Stress Relief

1.) Take a deep breath
Try slowing your breathing rate to seven to eight breaths per minute. Inhale to a count of four, then exhale at the same speed. "You'll trigger something called the relaxation response," Posen says. "Your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure goes down, and your muscles relax."

2.) Stretch out
Hunched over your computer all day? Get up and walk around every 30 minutes. Do some neck and shoulder rolls. Stretch your arms parallel to the floor, and do circles. A minute or two will loosen tight muscles.

3.) Catch more z's
When you get the sleep you need, you're not only more energized but also more relaxed. A good rule: one hour of sleep for every two hours your awake.

4.) Watch funny videos
Laughter relieves tension and feel-good beta-endorphins.

5.) Lose the java
"I call coffee 'stress in a cup,'" Posen says. It's not just coffee—tea, cola, energy drinks, even chocolate can leave you jittery.

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6.) Sleep on the job
Have a stressful meeting? Calm your nerves by napping for 20 minutes—but not any longer or you're likely to slip into a deep sleep and wake up feeling crummier. (And don't forget to wipe the drool off your desk.)

7.) Vent
Talk it out with somebody: a therapist, girlfriend—even a lifting buddy. "People hold a lot of stuff in," Posen says. "I always say, 'Those who suffer alone suffer a lot."

8.) Be realistic
Keep things in perspective. "Sometimes, parts of life are like going to see a movie you were told was the best ever," Posen says. "It may be good, but it wasn't the best ever, and you kind of feel let down."

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