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Deep breathing and meditation can go a long way in fostering stronger brain health and reducing stress levels.

Deep breathing and meditation can go a long way in fostering stronger brain health and reducing stress levels.

There's nothing wrong with ambition or getting ahead in life as quickly as possible — until it starts to take a toll on your body and brain health, that is. Ambition and stress often go hand-in-hand, and for those high-minded, mentally and physically-driven people who won't stop or slow down until they achieve their goal, stress can be a daily, even hourly, occurrence. Living with stress and anxiety is a serious health risk that can raise your chances of heart disease, hypertension and stroke, among other debilitating and life-threatening conditions.

So if you fall in the "can't stop, won't stop" crowd and constantly suffer from high levels of stress, relax and take a cue from former Microsoft and current Apple executive Bill Rielly. Slowing down doesn't mean having to abandon striving for success, and as Rielly notes, there are a couple easy-to-implement ways you can practice stress relief in your day-to-day life:

  • Deep breathing: "[Rielly] started small by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk. He found it helped him relax. After three breaths became a habit, he expanded to a few minutes a day. He found he was more patient, calmer, more in the moment," writes the Harvard Business Review. "Now he does 30 minutes a day. It restores his perspective while enabling him to take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions."
  • Meditation: Studies have shown that engaging in meditation for even just eight weeks — focusing your attention and mental energy on each part of the body, from head to toe — can stimulate grey matter activity in the brain, which helps to foster an increased aptitude for learning and emotional control.

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