We have all felt tensions and strains on at least one occasion. Here are 7 quick and easy tips on how to counter stress and re-charge:
Take a deep breath, and ground yourself exactly where you are. Times can be hard and you deserve to take a little extra care of yourself, and the best part is, it doesn't take long at all!
You don't have to spend money, travel or go anywhere. Here are some stress relieving techniques that very quickly lower the stress level to a harmonious calm state in less than 15 minutes.
1. Start meditating
If you're a beginner, 5 minutes a day can help relieve anxiety and stress. There is a lot of research that gives you a list of different health benefits, but what stands out is a calmer state, gratitude, improved sleep and better tolerance for dealing with unpredictable situations. Research suggests that a daily meditation routine actually alters the brain's nerve pathways that make you more resilient to stress, and conditions you in such a way as to handle unpredictable situations thrown at you, much better.
How? It's really simple, (but if you get stuck, there are lots of Youtube clips and apps that provide guided meditations.) Sit somewhere comfortable, either with your legs crossed on a yoga mat, or on a chair, with your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on a mantra of your choice - loud or silent - and recite, for example, "I welcome success, happiness, love and abundance in my life" while taking deep breaths. By repeating the mantra along with your breath you will be able to distance yourself from your thoughts which will allow you to regard the thoughs as waves, that flow by.
Give yourself time to focus on just your breathing. No mantra this time, just deep in and out breaths. Put your hands on your stomach and feel your stomach expand as you take a deep breath through your nose, counting to four, and hold for 5 seconds. Exhale through your mouth and count to four, feel your stomach go back, and hold for 5 seconds. Set a timer, start with 5 minutes and focus all your attention to your breathing. You may feel a tingling or creeping sensation over your body, or see some light behind the eyes, which is perfectly normal. Deep breathing is also called 'Breathwork' and is a good exercise to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate and counteract stress. Give it a try!
3. Be in the present moment
If you start feeling stressed or anxious, take 5 minutes and activate your senses by focusing on 5 things around you. Close your eyes and if you're sitting down, think about how the chair feels under you or around your body, do you feel any tenderness or pain in your body? Do you hear anything around you, or is your stomach making any noises, have you eaten? What do you smell around you? Can you taste anything? Focusing on the here and now will take you to the present and helps the body feel more relaxed and less tense. You can do this exercise anywhere, on the bus, train or when you are at work and may feel that your shoulders are too tight.
4. Reach out to your network
Many of us are good at self isolating when we feel overwhelmed, but try to resist this. Human beings needs connection, contact and social interaction, and that's probably exactly what you need when you feel overwhelmed. It's common to feel tired, or maybe even empty or guilty, not wanting to burden others. But believe it or not, vulnerability, to put words into words what you actually need or wanting to just "be" around someone is often very appreciated by your loved ones. Talk to your family or friends, use your network and share what's going on. Talk about something completely different, focus on what's good. If nothing else, they can give you something else to think about, a new perspective or better yet, a good laugh!
5. Body scanning - check in with your body
Stress has a very negative effect on our bodies. Sit with your feet on the floor, crossed or lying down, and start mentally scanning your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your shoulders, to your scalp to your head and really feel your body. Do you keep tension somewhere? Take a deep breath into the tension and release it along with your breathing and see feel your body as you begin to relax, do this several times, especially if you are feel any pain or tension.
6. Start moving!
Physical exercise is one of the best tricks for fighting stress, anxiety and depression, as it helps the brain release important hormones like endorphins and serotonin that fight stress. You don't have to go to the gym, take a 30 minute walk, practice yoga at home or take the bike out for a spin. What's your favorite activity? Start today, take a walk or run a lap at lunch or when you get home!
If you don't already have one, buy a journal and start writing a gratitude journal of all the things that are good in your life, what you hold dear or are grateful for. Have it by your bedside and give yourself 5 minutes before going to bed, to write 5 or more things for which you are grateful. Thank your body, that you have access to clean water, that you have a roof over your head or that you have friends or a family that loves you. Is there a special someone in your life that you are grateful for? - it can be anything. Practicing gratitude helps to stop negative worries, thoughts and feelings, and the best part is, if you are going through a tough time, you can pick up the journal, read your notes and remind yourself of what is really important in your life.
There are lots of tips and tools, here were 7 quick ones to get you started. If you're finding it difficult to get started and need more tips, support or motivation along the way, I would love to hear from you and look at ways to support you further!