It’s our last week! Time to relax a bit.

Remember: Take a photo while doing one of the heart healthy behaviors and post it on Facebook or Instagram.

Tag it with #AdelanteHeartStrong and let us know @AdelanteHealthcare and you could win a free Heart Strong t-shirt and a $50 gift card!

Winners will be notified by 5pm each Monday during February.

Week Three Challenge: Relax Strong.

Sometimes it feels like stress is impossible to avoid or control.

Whether it’s traffic or a difficult coworker, financial concerns, too much noise or too much to get done in too little time.

No one’s life is completely stress-free.

When stress is excessive and chronic, it can contribute to everything from high blood pressure to asthma to ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome according to the American Health Association.

That’s why it’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life.

10 Minutes or Less Can Make a Difference

Since you can’t actually get rid of everything that causes stress, finding small ways to fight back is key.

Here are 10 ideas you can do in 10 minutes or less to make a difference for your body and mind:

  1. Laugh. Looking for an excuse to crack yourself and others up? Blow off steam by laughing.
  2. Make a list. Studies show that getting things out of your head and onto paper reduces stress and eases rumination. Plus, if you make a list of what is worrying you, you have a chance to start prioritizing what to do first – and what may not need to be done at all.
  3. Find a friend. Even taking a 60-second break to message something and let them know you care turns your mood around.
  4. Move. Stand up and move. Take a quick walk, stretch, maybe even dance. You’re sure to feel better.
  5. Listen to a favorite song. Whether you love rock or country, classical or hip hop, music has the power to change your mood in “record” time.
  6. Breathe. Slowly breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4 and release it for a count of 6. Now do that 4-5 more times. Don’t you feel better?
  7. Spend time in or with nature. If possible, head outside and combine nature with movement and take a walk. If you don’t have time — sit by a window and look at a tree. Talk to the plant on your desk. Even quietly meditating on a nature screensaver or photo of nature has been shown to reduce stress and center people.
  8. Be grateful. Think of someone you are grateful for and send them an email or text. Make a quick list of three good things that have happened today. Nothing turns a mood around like gratitude.
  9. Doodle. Creativity pulls in parts of your brain you probably aren’t using while stressing about something. Draw something silly. Find some colorful markers and mindlessly create shapes. You’ll feel your stress go down and your joy go up.
  10. Imagine. Can’t take time for a vacation right this moment? Imagine it instead. Give yourself a few moments to imagine yourself on a beach or hiking in a forest or whatever you love to do on vacation. How does it sound, smell, feel and taste? What do you see? Who are you with? You’ll be amazed at the difference a 5-minute trip into your imagination makes to the rest of your day. And no lost luggage to deal with!
    De-stressing should not stress you out.

As with all of the Heart Strong habits we’ve discussed, starting small, experimenting and building on success is key. So choose one or two of these ideas and start today!

Let us know what’s worked for you during February’s Heart Strong month. Post your photos and comments on Adelante’s Facebook page.
And stay Heart Strong!