The list of tips for finding serenity continues below.
- Look for beauty all around you. When someone sent a friend a nasty birthday card, she considered retaliating before taking another road. "I went out and enjoyed the sunshine...it was a much sweeter revenge," she explained.
- Smell the roses. Aromatherapy can help you find peace by working through the brain - through the mind - and through the emotions. Aromas such as bergamot, atlas cedar, cypress, jasmine, juniper, neroli, frankincense, clary sage, vetiver, rosemary and ylang ylang may balance the nervous system, ease worry and stress, lift melancholy, encourage restful sleep, relieve crying, guilt, obsessions and compulsions, hostility, and panic.
- Work your body. Aerobic exercise may lead to reduced output of fight-or-flight hormones and may decrease heart rate in some people. This may be part of why very fit people seem better able to tolerate stress. Aerobic exercise may also increase natural "relaxation chemicals" in the brain, called endorphins, which give you greater self-esteem, make you feel more in control, and better able to handle stressful situations. Research has shown that they may also contribute to clarity of mind. According to Dr. Larry Eckstein, a Boulder, Colo. internist who specializes in acupuncture and nutrition, whether target shooting or skiing, working out can make you feel less rattled by stressful situations and happier overall. One theory, he explains, is that stress can cause complex changes in the levels of "fight-or-flight" hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare us for emotional and physical threats.
- The bottom line, according to Benson, is that all techniques that evoke the relaxation response are of equal benefit as long as they combine the benefits of breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation while toning and stretching the muscles. "The essence of relaxation is to break the train of everyday thought," he says, "whether with a rosary, meditation, musical instrument, Lamaze, shooting baskets, yoga, tai chi, or qi-gong."
- Serenity through journaling. Nearly half the arthritis and asthma sufferers participating in one study got better by writing about stressful/traumatic things in their life, such as the death of a loved one or being raped. Keep a diary reflecting upsetting or overwhelming situations, as well as rewarding experiences that have made you feel serene and accomplished. Julia Cameron, author of the national best-seller, "The Artist's Way," says that it is one way to overcome internalized negativity and creativity myths and monsters."
- Laugh and have fun. Research has shown that people who laugh intensely during tragic events, such as the death of a loved one, remember this laughter as helping them to endure the emotional pain.
- Get a good snooze. During sleep, the subconscious works on problems, allowing you to break the stress cycle. If you can't sleep, take a hot bath or drink hot tea and milk to relax tense muscles.