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Easy tips to help you de-stress

Stress is on the rise nationwide, and experts say it's endangering our physical and emotional health.

Approximately three-quarters of Americans say they experience chronic stress at unhealthy levels, putting them at risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to the American Psychological Association's 2010 "Stress in America" survey.

In today's fast-paced world, it's more important than ever to take time to de-stress through such techniques as exercise, meditation and proper nutrition.

Meditate to unwind

Scheduling time during your week to unwind will help you access your self-confidence and make better life choices.

"Many experts believe in the healing powers of meditation. It allows us to de-stress from our hectic, overscheduled lives," said Ryuho Okawa, author of "The Next Great Awakening: A Spiritual Renaissance" and founder of the Happy Science spiritual movement, which has 12 million members in 70 countries. "The real purpose of meditation is not just relaxing, but closing your physical eyes, and going into a state where you open your spiritual eyes."

One form of meditation practiced and taught by Okawa focuses on teaching people how to enjoy solitude and silence. Once you stop the constant chattering in your busy mind, you can tap into a sense of peace and gain confidence in being alone. In the process you become more self-sufficient, since you will no longer be looking to others for confirmation of who you are.

Another method is called "reflective meditation," where you look back at the events that took place in the past week, month, year, or your whole life. Through self-reflection, you calm your mind and enter a state of deep relaxation. This meditation allows you to change your perspective from negative to positive and become happier and healthier.

Take care of yourself

It's easy to forget to take care of yourself when balancing school and family obligations.

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