Stress is part of our everyday lives. The question is how do we deal with it? We can't eliminate it, but we can learn how to reduce the effect it has on us. When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, our breath becomes shallow, which sends a signal to the brain promoting that fight or flight response. What we don't think about is how stress affects us physically. That is why it's important to reduce that negative reaction. Here are a few ways that can help.
Breathe: Tired of hearing that cliché? I get that, but honestly taking the time to breathe does help. Inhale a nice full breath feeling the chest wall & rib cage expand. Exhale a little longer than the inhale to release that breath. Do this a few times with your eyes closed or focused downward (whatever feels good for you). This type of breathing sends signals to the mind aiding in calming that fight or flight response.
Meditate: Believe it or not, taking 3 minutes a day to sit and focus on your breath is beneficial. I love meditating in the dark before everyone gets up. My intention is 3 minutes a day and I don't set a timer. Many times I find I've sat there for much longer than those 3 minutes. This peaceful way to start the day changes your mindset.
Take a walk: Walk away from whatever is causing that stress. While you are walking, focus on what you see, hear, and feel. If that stressful situation is all you can focus on, bring your focus to your breath while you walk. Count your inhales & exhales. This will keep your mind focus on something.
Take a corner: Are you hunched over your computer all day so focused that your shoulders ache when you get home? Go to a corner wall, kneel down, and bring your arms to goal post position. Now lean into the wall feeling the stretch in your shoulders. Feel good? Do not push hard on your shoulders and remember you should not feel any pain, only a nice stretch. If you have any underlying conditions, be sure to check with your doctor first.
Legs up the wall: This is another one that you should check with your doctor if you have any underlying condition such as high blood pressure. Sitting on the floor next to the wall, maneuver yourself so you are on your back and your legs are resting on the wall. Stay here for 3-5 minutes. Then roll yourself over to your side with your legs resting on the floor. Stay here for a few breaths before getting up.
Yoga: Yoga is beneficial in so many ways. With the different types of yoga classes out there, you will definitely find one that works for you. Keep in mind that what works for your friend may not feel right to you. Many yoga studios offer a new student deal that allows you to try all the classes for a certain time frame. It's a perfect way to find the class that is perfect for you.
I encourage you to take care of yourself and find that balance in your life. Many people also keep a journal to reflect their thoughts. Find what works for you even if it's taking the time to breathe or taking a quick walk. Every little bit helps. Here's to a healthier and happier you!