Easing Stress and Anxiety

“Get out of your head and get into your body. Think less and feel more.” ~Osho


Stress comes into our lives in many different disguises. But no matter how you feel it, it all comes down to how you react to something or someone in your environment. Sorry, but you can’t blame your stressful feelings on anyone. You're the only one that can reduce and/or eliminate your stressful feelings.

I’m no stranger to stress and routine overwhelm. No matter what stage of life you are in, it can all get pretty crazy at times. So, many of us are always on the search for practical ways to minimize the stress and anxiety that are so common in our society. Especially at this time with being at home much more so than in the recent past.

You’ve probably heard, maybe even tried meditation because so many suggest that it’s the perfect solution to dealing with stress, myself included. It's “easy,” accessible, and it's good for our health on every level. In addition to stress, meditation reduces anxiety, improves emotional regulation, concentration, and sleep. It helps us develop more kindness and compassion for others and ourselves. Perfect right? Well, maybe not because for many it's feels hard to do. It can feel like a chore or a time thief. Plus, it often triggers our fears and anxieties, especially if we have a history of trauma we're still healing from.

So, consider a meditation practice that reflects your lifestyle. I know from experience that it’s possible to mimic the practice of mindfulness while moving your body. Instead of sitting still, something I sometimes find to be a challenge, I focus on gentle, repetitive movements that are enjoyable. For this reason, I built a simple labyrinth path in my back yard out of some old bricks. But, you can still reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation no matter what repetitive movement you do. From a morning walk, to yoga, to dancing (my fav) in your basement. It’s all about focusing your mind. You gotta get out of your head and into your body.

Here are 10 simple ways to rein in your monkey mind and focus.


1. Engage your senses. 
Some examples are:

Ears: listen to...nature sounds, favorite up beat music, a podcast with your eyes closed

Eyes: stare and day-dream for 10min., read an uplifting book, paint/draw or other artistic outlet, or look through favorite old photos

Nose: aromatherapy or scented candles (lavender), focus on nature smells on a walk, bake something yummy, smell freshly brewed coffee or tea


Touch: Exercise, stroke a pet, do yoga, get a massage, play an instrument

Mouth: sing, do deep breathing, eat some dark chocolate 



2. Breathe!

When you feel the anxiety building, you always have your breath and you can do it anywhere at anytime. This helps the autonomic nervous system to shift from the sympathetic state, the fight or flight reaction, to the parasympathetic response.


*breathe in for the slow count of 4
*hold for a count of 7
*exhale breath for a count of 8

*repeat 3-4 times


3. Accept what you can not change.

You can accept what you can not change by changing what you can. Make choices that are realistic. Choose your friends wisely and keep your distance or let go of the ones that don’t support you. If it’s a family member, then you’ll have to figure out what’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Do what's best for YOU!


4. Make changes to your environment.


Make some color changes to your walls. Using hues of greens, blues or lavender are calming colors that help to reduce stress and anxiety.

AND DE-CLUTTER!!! Yes, de-cluttering, even a drawer or closet, can make a huge difference.


5. Awareness
...before you go flying of the handle, take a step back and be your own witness.

Start to recognize the signs that brought on your anxiety and stress. Are you tired from lack of sleep? Are you angry about something or someone? If you can’t be a witness before you go off the deep end, try thinking back afterwards to what the triggers were. Once you bring awareness to your feelings from the outside looking in, your whole perspective can change. Even better, stop and laugh at yourself. Nothing releases stress better than laughter.


6. Stress can be your teacher

During or after a crisis occurs, think of what you could do differently for a better outcome.

“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”


7. Learn to say NO!
 This was my issue years ago when I was the Music Booster president for seven years while my kids where in high school. A part of me loved it, but I never got a break from it, even in the summer. I did learn after a few years how to delegate, but there was still so much to do. Plus I was a working mom. Nobody wanted me to leave after my youngest graduated, but of course I said no more and left behind a very well organized organization. So, the lesson here is please don’t take on more than you can handle. Listen to your gut reaction when someone asks you to do something. If your gut says NO! Thank the person kindly for thinking of you, then move on.


8. Organize!

Nothing can create more stress than disorganization. Being organized puts you in control, which in turn reduces stress. It's ok, like de-cluttering, to take it slow so not to overwhelm yourself.


9. Leave time for the unexpected.

Look for natural ways to deal with the unexpected. Time is what is needed when an unexpected crisis occurs. When it does, breathe and take the time you need to not only pull yourself together, but look to and use the resources you have for help. When someone asks how they can help, don’t just say “I’ve got it.” Let them help.


10. Get into your body, then rest

I’m repeating myself a little bit, but that’s because working the body as well as the breath works. Walk, hike, do yoga, dance, workout at home or at the gym. Do what ever it takes and works best for you to move your body. Then after working out no matter how strenuous or not, REST! In yoga it’s called Savasana, which means corpse pose. You bring yourself to stillness and allow the body to do it’s work from the inside out. Savasana is a practice that needs to be done even if you didn’t practice yoga. Your body needs that time to process and remember the information and intelligence—yes, intelligence—it's gained through each and every move you worked on. Think of it as a power nap. These final, 10+ minutes of stillness will not only allow you to let go of any tension you worked out while exercising, but the feeling of calm will lead you right into a refreshed sense of energy as soon as you're on to the next phase of the day. What better way to let go of stress and anxiety.


If you’d like more ideas on dealing with stress and anxiety, I suggest you go to my Pinterest page labeled Mind-Wellness. There you’ll find many more ideas. If my ideas didn't trigger a YES! in you, please check Pinterest. While you’re there, if you have an account, I invite you to click on follow.



Another amazing relaxation practice is a Yoga Nidra, which means "yogic sleep". A yoga nidra is longer than savasana and is a proven remedy to anxiety. Plus, one doesn’t have to practice yoga or meditate to do a yoga nidra. This practice has been adopted by veterans, recovering addicts, and just regular stressed-out people. A yoga nidra has a specific form to be followed when writing the script and was a favorite activity during my yoga teacher training. Both the creating of and the participation in. For a deeper explanation, check out this article.


At the beginning of a yoga nidra practice the participant makes a resolve, called a sankalpa. San refers to your higher truth and kalpa, means vow. This is a statement that reflects your true nature constructed into a short sentence. For example in dealing with our topic it could be, “I am peace itself”. A sankalpa is not so much about the present moment, but your future. This one statement, “I am peace itself” could be a sankalpa for life. On the other hand, each time you do a yoga nidra, you may come up with a new sankalpa each time. I highly suggest reading this article to understand more fully what a sankalpa is.


This blog post has gotten a bit long winded, but I hope it’s been useful. Please share your thoughts if you'd like to. I would especially love to hear your reaction and experience after doing the yoga nidra I made a specially for my email list followers. Note: there are shorter ones on the internet, but a traditional yoga nidra must be at least a 30min. minimum. Please take the time to experience the real thing.


Namaste'

Stephanie




anxiety, balance, being present, body, energy, health, inner growth, labyrinth, letting go, life, meditation, mind, relaxation, savasana, spiritual growth, stress, yoga, yoga nidra


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