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Kathi Casey
The Healthy Boomer Body Expert

Kathi is an author, coach, popular speaker and talk radio show guest, writes monthly columns for the South Shore Senior News, Life After 50, Boomers Forever and Retirement Living Magazines, produces her own TV show called To Your Health" in the Berkshires and owns the Healthy Boomer Body Studio in Otis, MA. Her programs combine good fun and humor with simple yet powerful techniques that fit easily into busy schedules.

Melt Away Holiday Stress And Enjoy Macy's Parade And Your Thanksgiving Pie!

The Holidays can be a stressful time for many people. You may be worried about getting the H1N1 flu or recovering your financial losses from the recent economic downturn. Maybe it's your first Thanksgiving without your spouse, or it's your turn to host the entire extended family. Whatever your reason for being anxious have faith, help is on the way!

There are many steps you can take to reduce your stress and enjoy this holiday season. Stress causes 70 85% of illness in this country that send people to the Doctor. Reducing your stress levels is essential for your health.

1. Volunteer to serve at a Soup Kitchen. Friends of mine made this practice a family tradition about 10 years ago and they enjoy it so much that they continue to volunteer every year. Filling this need gives you a warm feeling of contributing to the greater good and when you look around at what some others are dealing with, your own troubles can seem rather small.

2. Start some traditions of your own with a message like organizing a collection of toys for tots within your family or workplace, or join (start) a choir that goes through your neighborhood singing Carols for everyone. Use your own creativity to come up with something that resonates with you and your family.

Thanksgiving is a holiday of Gratitude and feelings of gratitude release endorphins into our bodies. These "feel-good" hormones reduce the levels of stress hormones in our bodies, give our immune systems a boost and can relieve anxiety.

3. This breathing practice is the best little trick I know for releasing endorphins and relieving stress. If you feel yourself getting a little anxious, stop what you're doing and sit comfortably. Close your eyes and lengthen your spine all the way up through your neck. Relax your shoulders, then raise your hands and place the pointer fingers over the flaps which will close off your ears when exhaling. Make sure you have your tongue resting gently against the roof of your mouth to avoid clenching your teeth. A slight separation between upper and lower teeth with lips closed is usually most comfortable. Keep your lips closed throughout the exercise. Inhale deeply, then, keeping your mouth closed, exhale making a humming noise while blocking off your ears by pressing the little flap closed. Keeping the ears blocked is important as that's what makes the vibration inside your head, which, in turn, vibrates your Pituitary Gland to release the endorphins. Make your humming exhale as long as possible and take deep inhalations between breaths. Complete at least 3-5 deep full inhalations and long, slow humming exhales and you'll feel better right away. Do this anytime you feel the need.

4. Meditation is also very helpful in reducing our levels of anxiety and it's easier than most people think. You don't need to sit cross legged for hours in a white bathrobe to meditate. Simply sit tall or lie flat on your back and count your breath backwards from 27. If you lose track of the count, don't worry that's pretty normal just start again. Or, you could concentrate on deep, full inhalations and long slow exhalations while noticing if your breath feels cool when you inhale and maybe warm on the exhale or vice versa. Simply concentrating on your breath and breathing deeply for 10 minutes can reduce your blood pressure, gives all of your organs and glands a nice little dose of freshly oxygenated blood to help them function properly and calms your mind. You'll feel energized and ready for the rest of your day!

There are also some wonderful guided meditations or relaxations on the market. Many places let you listen to a few tracks before you purchase. I recommend adding one to your shopping list and then use it when you feel stressed or at the end of an exhausting day to help reduce your levels of stress hormones.

Here is a link to the 10 minute track from my own CD "My 4 Favorite Guided Relaxations" for all my readers. Enjoy the relaxation and your Holiday ! http://www.kathicaseypilates.com/en/promotions/

Best of Health to you all.


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