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Breathe, stretch, shake - let it go!
by Aimee |  Mar 21, 2013

It's easy to get bummed out when bad stuff happens - maybe you totally blew it on a recent job interview, or said something stupid-sounding to a coworker, or maybe you accidentally emailed an acquaintance a juicy message meant for your best friend. As embarrassing as these social and professional faux pas can be, dwelling on them once they're over can be even worse.

Studies have shown that women tend report more daily or weekly worrying, anxiety and nervousness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sure, it's natural to stress about a negative event, but a new study gives even more reason why we should really learn to adopt that mantra Ma$e introduced us to in 2004 - breathe, stretch, shake and finally let it go.

Don't worry yourself sick!
The recent study, conducted by researchers from the Ohio University, found that stressing about a negative event after it has occurred can increase inflammation levels in the body. Although it's a natural bodily reaction, inflammation can cause serious health problems if it's chronic. Women's Health magazine reports that chronic inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and other health conditions. In the study of women ages 18 to 28, researchers noted that all participants were stressed and showed signs of inflammation after a negative event. However, they found that the inflammation levels of women who immediately refocused on something else - something positive - after the event went down to normal. 

So, it turns you really can worry yourself sick. That's why it's important to learn ways to truly let go of the bummers that come into our lives. Call me crazy for relating an early '00s song to daily life and relaxation methods, but come on, Ma$e kind of had a point! Even just repeating the chorus to that high school dance classic, "Breathe, Stretch, Shake," calms me down a little when I'm stressing. Let's see how we can put Ma$e's words into practice:

Deep breathing has been proven as a great way to relieve stress. Whether you use it to start meditating or just to calm you down, it's an extremely helpful practice to learn when life gets a little sour. If you're just starting out, sit comfortably with your back straight, one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth, slowly and deeply. The hand on your stomach should rise and fall, while the one on your chest stays the same. If you're at home, light a few candles to set a relaxing atmosphere. 

Practicing yoga regularly is a great way to keep stress levels in check because it combines stretching, breathing, meditation and a little physical exercise. However, even if you're not a yogi, you can do a few stretches to relieve stress. Downward facing dog - in which you have your hands and feet on the floor with your tush up in the air and your head down - can relieve tension in your lower back and legs, and allow you to focus on your body and how the stretching feels - not that issue that is stressing you out! Upward facing dog, in which your legs are flat on the floor and your arms are raising your chest and torso up, is another powerful pose that can be massively refreshing, At work? Sit in a chair and bend forward at the hips, allowing your entire torso to flop forward and relax all of your muscles. 

Call up your girlfriends and plan a night out on the town, or blast some Outkast and dance around your living room. Whatever you do, "shake it, shake-shake it," girl! Getting your blood flowing almost literally shakes the stress out of your body and makes you feel great. 

Have you let it go yet?

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