Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Whole Living Action Plan: Five Simple Ways to Add Relaxation to Your Day

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All month long the experts who created the Whole Living Action Plan 28-Day Challenge are joining us on "Whole Living" to answer your questions about everything from doing a detox and creating a fitness plan to losing weight the healthy way and maintaining good nutrition.

Today "The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide" author Kate Hanley took us beyond the physical part and taught us how to bring mindfulness and relaxation into our daily routines. Stress is a killer, literally when it attacks our cardiovascular health and spiritually as it makes us irritable and unhappy. As a working mom of two kids under the age of three, Kate certainly has her fair share. Here are five simple techinques she uses to rachet down her blood pressure and reclaim her serenity.

  • Engage in a mindful activity - Any routine task can become an opportunity to shut out the world and quiet our minds minds if we do it consciously and deliberately. Albert Einstein claimed to stumble upon great ideas while he was shaving, which probably explains why he never grew a beard.
  • Listen to something soothing - Music has a powerful effect on our mood and psyche, with recent medical research showing that our heart rate rises and falls in sync with the rhythm of our soundtrack.
  • Exercise before you try to relax - Hatha yoga was designed centuries ago specifically to prepare practitioners to sit still and meditate. Expending physical energy makes it easier to clear your head, and you'll feel more fit as well.
  • Don't overschedule yourself - This sounds like a no brainer, but who hasn't felt guilty about turning down an invitation from a friend even when the week is already stuffed with work and family commitments? Clear at least a couple of days a month to do nothing so that you have time to unwind and can be open to doing something spontaneous.
  • Make time for what matters - Trimming the fat from your schedule should leave you with more time for the things you care about most. If you're still feeling too busy, prioritize the way one Whole Living reader does: She and her husband juggle demanding careers, so they set their alarms 15 minutes earlier so that at least they have that time every day to cuddle and talk before their workdays begin.

While answering questions from Action Plan participants, Kate found that many found the prospect of adding de-stressing activities to their days stressful in itself! Her solution: Get creative. Here she explains how she transformed her toddler's bedtime demands into a chance for her to decompress.

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