April 10, 2013

Calm Yourself- Staving off Stress

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the best meditation- coffee and a journal


I've been recently trying to practice some breathing exercises and meditation during my morning train rides to work. I usually try to take slow breaths in, counting up as my lungs reach capacity, and letting the breath out slowly while counting the same way. The counting is important, because it takes your mind off of possible stresses and worries.

So after a peaceful few days off, or spent at home, I started to notice a pattern: The first day back, I was able to breathe in counting up to 12-seconds. On the second day, it was 10-seconds. And the third, 8 seconds. I noticed that due to the day-to-day amount of stress doing various tasks and being under-the-gun for projects, I was actually taking in less oxygen every day.

By the end of the week, I concluded that #1, my stress levels were increasing day by day, and #2, that my body was reacting negatively to it. It then really hit me, how stress affects our bodies, and how important it is to take care of ourselves when this happens.

Stressed feelings often lead to more stressed feelings, and then to more mistreatment of ourselves. It can depress our immune system, causing us to get sick easier. And since humans have physical reactions to stress, it can eventually wear our bodies down in the longterm, and manifest in ways that are even less fun than a few sniffles.


So here are six simple ways to take care of yourself when you are stressed:

1. Take more deep breaths. Your body craves oxygen!

2. Drink a glass of water... now. Your body needs water, and generally, humans don't get enough of it.

3. Try to make a list of things you are grateful for. There is so much in our lives that we take for granted on a daily basis. Taking stock of all the ways that our lives are amazing can bring an unexpected surge of joy. And used the right way, this trick also has the magic ability to turn some of those stressors into blessings.

4. Plan to exercise. Even if it's just once per week. Even if it's just here and there. I notice that I always feel better after 20 minutes of running, or a yoga class. Your body releases those endorphins, and it makes life better. Even just a stretch here and there can relieve tension!

5. Take notice of your surroundings. For myself, I tend to go inward when things are starting to make me feel crazy. I tend to forget that I'm in the present moment. But bringing you back into the present is exactly what you need. Try focusing on the tree outside... the green leaves. Try noticing the shape of the building you're passing as you're walking. Try pinching yourself! When you realize you've retreated, coming back into reality can be really powerful (and inspiring!)

6. Take out a notebook and write! This one is my favorite. Getting things that are bothering you out of your mind and onto the page can alleviate some of that harmful junk that likes to circle around in our heads.



It's easy to tell ourselves that we don't have time or energy to do some of these things. We put it off, expecting to magically feel better. What usually happens to me is a meltdown. If I don't set aside time to take care of myself I get cranky, depressed, and generally not-fun to be around. I know we are taught that it's selfish, but I think it's really important to take care of yourself first and formost. It doesn't benefit the world to have a bunch of anxious, sick, grumpy people skulking about.

Protect your boundaries, and give yourself permission to set aside time to do the things that help you feel better.



chantilly

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11 comments

  1. Meditation has really helped me reduce stress. And although breathing is a subconscious action, if you focus on it, you can really "heal" yourself.

    I took myself out of an awful job scenario. And since then, my life has been amazing. Literally no stress. This guy said it best: "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." - Mark Twain

    The Nautical Owl
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  2. I'm pinning this post to my blogroll because I need the constant reminder to slow down. This is a wonderful post Chantilly, thank you!

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  3. I've noticed lately that I'm definitely getting more stressed out. I do take the time to go to yoga class, and I'm writing every night just to get it out of my head! It's been affecting my sleep which is never good!
    Great tips!
    x

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  4. I feel like I spend the majority of my life being stressed out so thank you very much for sharing this! xx

    http://thehonestfox.blogspot.com

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  5. Such great recommendations! I too find the more stressed I am, the harder it is to breathe properly.

    My girlfriends and I did a water challenge amongst ourselves last month, and I couldn't believe how well being disciplined with my water intake contributed to good sleeps! I read a book by a doctor recently called "You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty", and he states that dehydration actually contributes to stress and anxiety - your body is irate not being properly hydrated!

    And gratitude - so important! I started keeping a gratitude journal well over a year ago, and it really does draw more of that energy to you. I'm not as diligent about writing in it now (one of the things I need to get back into the habit of), but I do know that the more gratitude I feel, the happier I am. :)

    Megan

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  6. You must have been reading my mind.....I have been experiencing such high levels of stress right now with my job and it has taken such a toll on me. I am used to getting 8 hours of sleep a night and now I am barely getting 5-6...I am such a worrier and over analyzer that my brain has been so overwhelmed. I really need to take more time for me...bless your heart for posting this xoxoxox big hugs

    xo Dinah @ sunshine super glam

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  7. Awesome tips! It's funny that you wrote about this because one of the guys in my public speaking class just did a speech on stress.

    Xo,
    Eeka

    Live.Love.Random.

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  8. Ah, here's to a stress-free week! I've been kind of stressed, too, these days, for different reasons. Big stuff has happened back in my home in Argentina and my mind doesn't seem to get a rest. Also, more responsibilities at work are taking a toll on my body and head ... I'll take these tips into account ;).

    Have a wonderful week! ;D

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  9. This is just too true! Turning a part of your routine into meditation time is brilliant. I'd love to hear more about how you keep down your stress.

    http://ichoosetorefuse.blogspot.com/

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  10. i love this list. i'm definitely a practicer of jotting down things i'm grateful of when i actually feel like a sour puss. it really helps to keep things balanced.

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