Family relaxation might seem like an oxymoron to some, but for yoga expert Rachelle Wintzen, it's all about the little things.
While it's easy to think the key to a relaxed family is through a vacation, Wintzen suggests starting at home — specifically the kitchen.
"Eating clean and healthy is a sure-fire way to feel your best and to de-stress," she says. "Help each other choose fun, simple recipes and pick a time where the whole family can come together to cook and sit down without any time restraints."
"2 Minutes To Transform" is your guide to small but meaningful changes for a better you. Experts share their tips to transform your life at home, in the office or while you're on the go -- all in under two minutes.
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Relaxing Protects Your Heart
You've probably heard that stress can seriously up your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and other heart problems. While researchers aren't sure exactly why, the research is unanimously in favor of relaxation for your heart's sake. "There are studies to show that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we traditionally think of as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise," Kathi Heffner, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, told Health.com. Intense, sudden periods of stress or shock, like a breakup or even winning the lottery, can trigger such a rush of adrenaline that the heart can't function properly, resulting in heart failure or heart attack-like symptoms. In the case of a breakup or death of a loved one, this has become known as broken heart syndrome. Flickr photo by epSos.de
A 2007 University of Cambridge study found that people who coped the best with stressful life events had a 24 percent lower risk of stroke. It may be partly due to the fact that people who handle stress well often are healthy in other ways, like exercising regularly and not smoking. A 2011 study examined the specific effects of work-related stress, and found that among middle- and upper-class men, psychological stress caused about 10 percent of strokes. Flickr photo by Florin Gorgan
Relaxing Keeps You Safe From Depression
Studies have shown that chronic stress can kill brain cells, and even prevent the creation of new ones, in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in a healthy response to stress, according to Time.com. In 2011, a study in mice illustrated these findings and began to explain one possible way antidepressants work. The mice exposed to a stressful situation didn't want to eat, gave up during a swimming task much faster and exhibited "pleasurelessness" -- similar to human depression symptoms like loss of appetite, sadness and hopelessness. In humans, the prolonged presence of stress hormone cortisol can reduce levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to depression. Stress is also likely to exacerbate mood problems in people with a history of depression or bipolar disorder, and could trigger relapse. Flickr photo by Danny Nicholson
Relaxing Helps You Make Better Decisions
It's no surprise that when you're under stress, you might not always be thinking so clearly. But a 2012 study found that stress seems to actually change how we weigh risks and rewards, and can cloud our judgment when we are faced with important decisions. Counterintuitively, stressed-out people actually tend to focus on the positive, and may ignore the cons of the decision they're about to make, one of the study's authors, Mara Mather Ph.D., a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. That may also help explain why alcoholics crave a drink more when they're under pressure. "The compulsion to get that reward comes stronger and they're less able to resist it," Mather said. Flickr photo by Daehyun Park
It's a vicious cycle: You're stressed about that presentation at work, so you break out, and then you're stressed about the breakout! Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but stress seems to up the amount of oil produced by the skin, clogging pores and causing acne, according to WebMD. Flare-ups of other skin problems, like psoriasis, have also been linked to stress, and can be equally stressful themselves. But relaxing really helps: A 1998 study found that psoriasis plaques cleared up more quickly in people who regularly meditated.
Relaxing Will Keep You In The Mood
One of the big reasons that women lose that lovin' feeling is stress, but men aren't immune either. In fact, Kinsey Institute researchers found that stress zaps the libido of around 30 percent of men (although another 21 percent said it actually increased their sex drive.). "Men are more likely to see sex as a stress reliever, whereas for many busy women, their husband's desire is just another demand on their time and energy," Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF told Ladies Home Journal. Flickr photo by pedrosimoes7
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