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Taking time away from the stresses of work and daily life “can improve our health, motivation, relationships, job performance, and perspective”, says Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President of the Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation. Studies at the foundation have found that “ taking a break helps us return to our lives and jobs refreshed and better able to handle challenges that may arise in our daily/work life.”

There are places in the world known as Blue Zones where people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than most. Know how they do it? They keep things simple. They eat healthful diets rich in local plants, they walk places, they enjoy lots of intergeneration social interaction and they make time for self care, self reflection and gratitude.

A recent article, ‘How to Build a Life’ by Arthur C. Brooks for the Atlantic, examines how to stay calm and not ‘freak out’. Brooks says knowing you shouldn’t freak out in high stress moments is easy enough, but actually preventing our emotions to take over is much harder.

It requires metacognition – which is becoming aware of our own feelings and observing them as impartially as we can. It’s taking a step back to give our brain a chance to choose our reaction instead of falling into one. He offers three practices to help: count to 30 (and imagine the consequences); observe your feelings; and write it down.

When we are in the midst of stress it is hard to get the perspective needed to diffuse our reactions. While vacations can help us attain balance, the results are often temporary. Building a life that includes “pressure valves” to release and manage stress through healthful means offers us not only relief, but renewed vitality for our body and mind.

Massage therapy helps activate the body’s system for overcoming stress. Studies have shown that even ten minutes of massage helps to combat stress and reduce it’s negative effects on our body and mind.

Being proactive and including the kind of self care that can help us manage our stress is the best way to enjoy a much happier, more fulfilling life. We deserve it!