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Relax a Little! 

If you have a presentation to make, a media interview to give, or just a rough day ahead, learning how to relax can mean the difference between a serene sense of accomplishment and a pounding headache. Here are a few tips that take just a few seconds.

Breathe! It's basic to life, yet so often we underestimate the ability of conscious breathing to relax us. Try this simple exercise to harness the power of breath. Sit upright in your chair. With your eyes closed, take in a long, deep breath through your nose. Feel the dry, cool air fill your lungs, and be conscious of letting your stomach expand outward, rather than raising your shoulders. When your lungs are full, slowly exhale through your mouth, completely emptying your lungs. It can help to make a low humming noise as you breathe out. Repeat a few times. By making your respiration conscious, you can relax your breathing and slow your heart rate. Not to mention that extra oxygen to the brain has got to be a good thing.

Visualize!  Feeling overwhelmed? Taking a moment to picture a place of serenity can help you escape a pressure-filled environment or calm down before a stressful activity like public speaking. Begin by running through the breathing exercise described above, and then create in your mind's eye a relaxing scene, such as a country meadow. Involve all your senses, smelling the fresh air and the grass, hearing birds chirping and a brook babbling nearby, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. Stay in your visualization for as long as you like, looking around and adding details. Once you have developed a relaxing visualization, it is easy to "visit" whenever you need a brief time-out.

Move!  We all hold tension in our bodies, as an aching necks, shoulders and heads can attest. If you can go for a walk, do so. Otherwise, simply standing up, shaking your arms and legs and touching your toes a few times can get the blood moving and release pent-up stress. Yoga, physiotherapy and ergonomic resources all have various stretches and moves that can help the desk-bound overcome stress. Of course check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.