The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Even after they’re over, stress still continues to plague us. The new year is a fantastic time to start learning stress management. The following techniques can be used in almost any situation to stop stress right in its tracks.


Deep Breathing Exercise: The foundation of most relaxation exercises is true deep breathing, which is sometimes called belly breathing. To do this type of breathing properly you should be breathing from your belly, not your chest. The best way to get comfortable with this is to lightly place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in slowly, you should notice your belly expanding, not your chest. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll breathe in slowly as you count to six. Then hold the breath for four seconds and slowly breathe out for a count of six. Simply taking 60 seconds in a quiet place, even if it’s a bathroom, can significantly reduce stress and anxiety.


Hydrate!: Taking a few moments to enjoy a nice, cool glass of water can actually help you feel less stressed. Water helps the body function at its highest level, and this includes your brain and emotional wellness. Water has also been proven to elevate moods and increase energy and productivity. The average person should be drinking half of their weight in ounces. For example if you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink 90 ounces of water a day to stay fully hydrated. Of course taking a moment to enjoy your water in peace and quiet gives you a better chance to de-stress.


Music Therapy: Songs have the power to change our emotions and our state of mind. Keeping even a 45 second snippet of a song that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside or gets you happy and laughing can help reduce stress, worry, and anxiety. Keep an iPod or MP3 player in your purse or desk drawer at work. You might even download a few of your favorite songs as ring tones for your phone for easy access.


Laughter is the Best Medicine: Laughing is one of the greatest relievers of stress, and with the Internet so easily accessible these days, humor is at your fingertips. Keep a few sites that make you laugh bookmarked or call a friend that you know can always make you giggle. Whether it’s funny cat pictures, laughing babies, comic strips, or corny jokes, whatever makes you laugh, keep it nearby for a quick escape from reality and stressful situations.