You may already be familiar with the effects of stress on your body. We often experience symptoms such as headaches, dry skin, constipation, and other health issues without realizing that all of the above can be symptoms of a seriously stressed-out nervous system. We're tempted to simply take a pill without ever examining what caused the effects in the first place.
So, how do we address the role stress plays in our lives and learn to relax so we can be healthier and more productive? Here are five healthy techniques to get you started:
1. Deep Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is the process of taking long deep breaths, focusing on filling the stomach with air rather than the lungs. (For instructions on how to do this style of breathing, watch the video below).
Taking deep breaths in this fashion creates a sensation of relaxation. There are contraindications such as trauma in the stomach region which will call for softer deep breaths. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, taking a few deep breaths will help you feel more grounded and more aligned with your body. Breathing for stress is an underrated life hack.
HOW: If you're having one of those days where you feel overscheduled and overwhelmed, try pausing for just a few deep breaths while commuting to and from work, cooking dinner, taking your morning shower, etc. Many people feel that they don't have time to incorporate activities such as formal meditation or yoga practice into their daily lives, but we all have time to focus on breathing for one to two minutes throughout the day. It will help you arrive in the moment and relax any tension building up in your body
2. Find Moments to Slow Down
We're all busy with work, social obligations, and other activities. The truth is, you don't necessarily need to cut anything out of your schedule to slow down and enjoy the moment more.
Think about what a typical busy day looks like for you. Are you simply rushing from one task to the next? Identify areas of your life where you can afford to slow down such as when you're walking, showering, and eating.
Simply inviting a little more slowness into our lives allows us to be more aware of what our needs are, which helps us feel healthier and more joyful.
HOW: Identify one or two areas of your day that you can afford to slow down and be more present. Consider inviting silence into your life in these moments. For example, if you typically spend your whole lunch break on your phone and then wonder why you don't feel restored at the end of it, try putting your phone away, savoring your food, and listening to some relaxing music on your break instead.
3. Get Your Body Moving
You don't need to join a CrossFit class or take up running to reap the benefits of exercise. Movement is essential to our physical and mental health and if you can fit in fifteen minutes of small yet effective movement a day, I urge you to do so.
Ayurveda teaches that emotions get stuck in the body, specifically in the area around our stomach. Eighty percent of disease lives in the GI tract and if we are not moving our bodies on a regular basis, food and toxins will become stuck along with feelings of anxiety and stress.
HOW: Everyone has time in their day for a little bit of movement. Try going for a walk around your office building, stretching at your desk, moving your shoulders and head in circular motions, twisting the center of your body from side to side, or doing squats while brushing your teeth.
4. Self Massage
We would all love to get professional massages on a routine basis, but that's not necessarily financially feasible. However, self-massage for stress can be equally effective.
Ayurveda teaches that massaging the skin reduces anxiety and calms an overwhelmed nervous system. It also keeps muscles fit and prevents signs of aging. When the weather is colder, massage your skin with warm oil such as sesame oil. In the summer, cooling coconut oil works wonders.
To feel the full grounding effect, begin your self-massage for stress with your head and work your way down your body. This relaxing ritual is also an amazing opportunity to slow down and connect with your five senses.
HOW: Take some oil of your choice and rub your earlobes, the area above your eyebrows, inside of your nostrils, and your temples, and then work your way down the rest of your body. Really take the time to slow down and take deep breaths while self-massaging.
5. Invite Silence Into Your Life
If you follow me on Instagram at @acheloawellness, you may know that I did a twenty-hour meditation. Obviously, twenty hours may be challenging for a lot of people or simply not possible but there are variations that may be more fitting.
Imagine no phones, no screens, no talking for a whole twenty-four hours to allow yourself to reground. Many of us talk all day long and are constantly on our devices, which leads to us feeling depleted at some point.
HOW: Not speaking for a day or even a few hours might leave you feeling a little lost and not knowing what to do with your time. Use the opportunity to do some reading, journaling, or cooking a recipe you've been meaning to try. The possibilities are really endless when you carve out time for silence and slowing down.
Ready to Take Action to Stress Less?
We just went over five techniques that can help you on the path to stressing less. Identify which of these tools would fit most seamlessly into your life and commit to trying at least one of them. The idea is to implement small, easily achievable shifts into your life so you can start feeling better right away.
This is your time to take responsibility for your well-being and create a healthier you. If you want more tips and techniques to reduce stress, schedule a breakthrough call with me today. We'll explore your personal relationship with stress and devise a plan for you to access more peace, ease, and joy even in the midst of a busy schedule.