b'Stress Less, BE HEALTHIERI s anyone out there not stressed someor a lotof the time? Stress is a fact of modern life and is now found to be the culprit behind many doctors visits and illnesses. While we may not immediately link stress and immunity, the connection is undeniableso much so, in fact, that it spawned the creation of a medical field, psychoneuroimmunology, which studies the relationship between the mind and the immune system. Whether your stress is physical, emotional or mental, its a major drain on immune power and experts stress daily stress management in order to stay well. One pathway to relief: Do yoga or tai chi several times per week, says Marco Lam, licensed acupuncturist at the Mandala Integrative Medicine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado. During your practice, concentrate on pranayama, the focused breathing specific to yoga.Deep breathing has been shown to reduce cortisol stress hormone levels, says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy (Fair Winds, 2008), who adds that cortisol affects the brain, contributes to abdominal weight gain and depletes your immune system. Its so important that practicing breathing on its own (outside of a movement practice) is just as good and you can do it anywhere. Aim for 10 minutes a day and start with eyes closed, concentrating on what it feels like to breath in and out and consciously breathing into your abdomen, rather than your chest. Next, begin counting: Bowden suggests slowly inhaling for four counts, holding for two, and exhaling for four. Continue for the remainder of the ten minutes. The idea is that this practice eventually spills over into your day, allowing you to pause and reset when stress strikes.Also consider a practice of happiness to help nudge your mood in a positive direction. There is evidence that a negative psychological state keeps you from activating your immune system fully. Somol suggests that in addition to finding your contemplative practice, you devote time to pursuits that make you feel calm, fulfilled and at your best, such as hobbies, socializing with friends and gasp, unplugging from technology.Brought to you by & 6'