Stress is ever-present. In today’s new norm, anxiety and stress are reaching epic proportions for much of our population. While we cannot get rid of troubling news, we can employ techniques which are proven to reduce stress.
Meditation has been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, in India, there is wall art from approximately 5,000 BCE showing individuals meditating and written evidence from around 1500 BCE. The practice of meditation stills one’s racing thoughts, brings mental clarify and reduces stress.
How To Meditate
There are many different meditation practices: Hindu, Buddist, Chinese, Christian, Guided, and more. There are podcasts and Youtube channels with guided and other mediations. Once the shelter in place recommendation is lifted, there are in-person retreats and meditation centers. While seeking the practice which best suits you can be useful, getting started with a basic daily habit now to start reducing your stress. Here are beginner meditation steps:
- Set aside time in your day, even a few minutes a day of consistently practicing meditation will reap a huge reward.
- Find a quiet place and time (maybe in bed right before you go to sleep or just as you wake up).
- Sit in a comfortable position (or lay down).
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath.
- As your mind wanders, refocus on your breath.
- To end your meditation, open your eyes and hold the feeling of calm for a moment.
- Tip: you can sprinkle moments of meditation throughout your day to calm your mind, reduce your stress and gain more mental clarity.
According to the History of Yoga, while the practice of yoga can be traced back 5,000 years, some believe that yoga maybe thousands of years older. As with meditation, there are many types of yoga: Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram (or hot), Yin, Restorative, Anusara, and Jivamukti yoga. As with meditation, it is useful to find the yoga practice or practices which you best enjoy.
Beyond reducing stress and anxiety, the practice of yoga can improve heart health, reduce chronic pain, promote better sleep, and increase flexibility and balance. A YouTube search reveals many different types of yoga videos. Try a few different ones to find the teacher and type of yoga you enjoy.
3. Take A Nap
As discussed in our blog on naps, even a quick 10 minutes nap reduces stress. Sleep allows the brain to clear toxins and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Schedule a 10 to 20 minute power nap to help reduce your stress.
4. Stress Relief Techniques
- Deep breathing. Stress causes short, rapid breathing (preparing you to outrace a tiger). Take a few deep, slow breathes from your diaphragm and reduce your stress.
- Visualization. Picture a peaceful place. Use as many of your senses in creating your peaceful place. When tension strikes, close your eyes for a moment are visualize your peaceful place.
- Progressive relaxation. Start from your toes and slowly work up to your head, relaxing each muscle as you move up your body.
5. Turn Stress On Its Head
Feeling out of control can spike anxiety and stress. Sheltering in place and working from home for the first time can be very stressful. Once the technical side of working from home has been resolved, step back and see if you can turn the negative around. Have there been projects you have not had the time to tackle? (Think of the feeling of accomplishment once that project is done!) Are there skills you have been wanting to learn or pick back up any neglected passions? (Do something fun!) Have a desire to be creative? (Being creative lower stress.)
While none of us can change the events happening in the world, we do have control over our perceptions. For those of us fortunate enough to not be fighting for our lives, let’s take a moment to be grateful for our health. An attitude of gratitude not only lowers stress; it also improves our lives by reminding us of all that do have.
What else are you grateful for today?
To your health.
Dianne Hinton, NP IFM-C