Five Offbeat Stress Beaters


  • By Robin Westen

    A few years ago, a national survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that one third of Americans were feeling stressed out and afraid their health was suffering because of it. Thanks to economic pressures, many of us are feeling even worse today. But you don’t necessarily have to look to prescriptions or drugstore shelves to feel better. Try unwinding with these alternative techniques.


    Not the kind where you have to follow a swami, but simply sit in a straight back chair, hold your posture and either count one to ten and then start again, or watch your breath go in and out, or repeat a word like “quiet” or “peace.” Countless studies show a meditation practice can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even boost concentration. Just five minutes is all you’ll need to experience the benefits.
  • Herbal Remedies Certain herbs can be helpful in taming stress. Chamomile, lavender, as well as St.John’s Wort are common choices. But before using any herbal treatments check with your doctor.
  • Hypnosis You’ll want to seek a trained professional before submitting to hypnosis. The method works by relaxing the mind first with suggestions of focused attention, which in turn encourages muscle relaxation, and a deepening of consciousness. Relaxation hypnotherapy brings you to a state of mind where you are open to suggestions of changes to reduce or improve your stress level.
  • Reiki This technique, which is gaining in popularity, especially in hospitals, originated in Japan. It consists of "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us. It’s believed that if your life force energy is low, than you’re more likely to feel stressed out. Reiki aims to reverse that.
  • Aromatherapy Can lighting a scented candle help you de-stress? Yes, say practitioners of aromatherapy. Inhaling the aromas of certain scents has been shown to alter brain waves, increasing levels of contentment. For example, rosemary has demonstrated the ability to reduce cortisol --a hormone associated with stress.

    Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Please check back for her daily updates. Her newest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is “V Is For Vagina.”