April 10, 2013
Calm Yourself- Staving off Stress
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.
♥ watch my new video for "just the way you are" on youtube!! ♥
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