Stress makes everything worse—and your hypothyroidism is no exception. As many as 90% of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related problems, according to The American Institute of Stress. Exactly how stress affects hypothyroidism isn't fully understood, but several theories exist. For starters, when you are stressed out, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. Your thyroid's main job is to produce hormones that help your body use energy, stay warm, and keep all of your organs functioning to the best of their ability. Hypothyroidism and its symptoms, such as fatigue, lack of energy, excessive daytime sleepiness, weight gain, dry skin, constipation, and hair loss occur when these hormones are in short supply. If you have a sluggish thyroid, you likely don't feel well, which can be extremely stressful in its own right. Relaxation therapies can have a dramatic effect on your hypothyroid symptoms, as well as your overall quality of life. To get your zen back try out these five relaxation therapies 1. Say Om Practicing yoga can help decrease stress especially when you strike your poses on a regular basis. In one study, women who practiced yoga consistently recovered from stress faster than women who practiced yoga less often. Both groups did have lower levels of the inflammatory proteins linked to certain autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease, a common form of hypothyroidism. To get started, find a beginner yoga class or purchase a yoga DVD. 2. Meditate Taking a time out, a deep-healing breath or practicing Transcendental Meditation can help reduce stress and some of its symptoms—many of which are also linked to hypothyroidism, such as depression and headache. Transcendental Meditation involves sitting quietly with your eyes shut while repeating a mantra or phrase. Studies have shown that this practice can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improve sleep quality, and lower blood pressure. It's easy to learn. Consider taking a class or purchasing a DVD to get schooled on the basics. 3. Get Moving Regular exercise can be a good way to relax and de-stress. Exercise stimulates the body's production of natural feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes a day on at least five days per week. If exercise revs you up, make sure to do it well in advance of your bedtime so it doesn't interfere with your sleep. 4. Book a Massage Massage therapy can also leave you feeling zen. Studies conducted at The University of Miami's Touch Research Institute have shown that massage can decrease anxiety, blood pressure, depression and fatigue. Many insurers may help cover the costs associated with massage therapy. Easy-to-learn self-massage techniques may also help offset stress and the cost of massage, as can asking your partner for a massage after a tough day. 5. Tune Out Listening to music can help relieve stress. It can be as simple as putting on headphones in the middle of the day for a few minutes to chill out and refocus. Other relaxation techniques include progressive muscle relaxation—which involves tightening and relaxing various muscle groups and guided imagery, where you focus on your happy place to decrease stress. Biofeedback is another relaxation method. During a biofeedback session, electronic devices show you how you react to stress and teach you to change this reaction There are many proven relaxation therapies out there. Find the one or ones that best suits your lifestyle. The benefits to your quality of life should be almost immediately apparent. Namaste.