How’s your stress level? Do you feel like a ticking time-bomb that’s about to unleash it’s wrath upon the next person that looks at you the wrong way?
If this sounds like you, then I’ve got some tips that will help you kick stress and get you back to feeling calm, mellow and back to your best.
Meditation is often misunderstood. Most people think meditation is about voiding your mind. It’s actually the opposite. Meditation is about bring your awareness to the present and what is happening in the here and now. Meditation is very easy to practice and can be done in 15 minutes or so. All you need is a relaxing environment that is free of distractions, There are several ways to practice meditation, however you want to make sure that you are in comfortable position where there is minimal pain of discomfort. You can choose between several different positions for meditation; laying on your back (supine), seated, or in “child’s pose.”
I personally prefer supine, either in my bed before I go to sleep or on a yoga mat on the floor. Once you are comfortable you want start to bring in your awareness to these things:
- Breathing: Pay attention to the depth of the breaths – are they shallow? Are they deep? Are you trying to control them? Is the belly rising and expanding as your breathe? I often advise to just lay supine and focus on breathing and even counting the breaths until this becomes the only thing you are focusing on.
- Heart rate: Is it quick? Is it slow? Is it getting slower?
- Muscular tension: Are your muscles relaxed? Are they tight? Start at the feet working up through the limbs. Relax the feet and legs in the floor, working your way up to the hips and eventually back, focus on dropping the shoulders into the floor and eventually the crown of the head too. Think of it as if you want your whole body to sink into the surface it is touching. Just relax.
It’s not uncommon to get up feeling wonderful with a smile on your face after meditating. I’m almost certain this is the reason why yoga has a cult following – not because it’s “exercise” but because of the meditative aspect. When you learn to bring your awareness to your body and it’s feelings, sensations and reactions to different things you are learning to be in the present and your focus completely drifts away from the past and the future and to the only things that are real – which is the present.
2) Work it out!
Few things can kick stress quite as well as doing a workout. This is why it’s so valuable to have a regular exercise routine – it’s like you’re pre-emptively making a strike so you can win the war on stress. Setting up at training program where you’re training 3-4 times per week for about an hour time can be key in reducing stress and anxiety and even decreasing depression and other mood disorders. When you build this into your daily routine, it’s much easier and you’ll notice your mood will start to get better and better.
And even if you’re short on time and can’t hit the gym, don’t neglect doing something quick and physical with bodyweight at home. Even doing movements such as squats, push-ups, lunges and planks for 10 minutes in the morning can help you get you energized and feeling great for the day ahead and eliminate any antsiness you may have later in the evening.
In fact, here’s a quick workout you can do with your body weight when you’re feeling the stress and you’re short on time:
A1) Body Weight Squat x 20 reps
A2) Push-Ups x 10 reps
A3) Jump Squats x 20 reps
A4) Touch Planks x 10 reps per side
Perform 3-5 rounds, rest minimally between exercises. Rest between rounds as necessary.
3) Practice GRATITUDE
Last but not least, never neglect practicing gratitude. Take inventories of all the things make you grateful. If you can make practicing gratitude a routine – even better. When you focus on the positives that are in your life, you feel an abundance and just making that shift alone in your mind can have great effects. Some things that work well for practicing gratitude are:
- taking time at the beginning or end of each day to state the things or make mental notes of what your are greatful for that day
- Gratitude journalling: This is especially great for people who already journal on a regular basis, you can focuse on closing your daily journal entries with lists of three (or more) things you are grateful for that day.
- Having a “gratitude jar”: A gratitude jar is a small jar (or other resealable container) which you fill with post-it notes. On each post-it note you place in that jar, you will write one thing you are grateful for. The objective is to fill the jar with as many things as possible that bring joy and happiness to your life and make you feel grateful. Think big, but don’t forget to think small. We often take a lot of the small things for granted – like having clean laundry, or having access to water, and three meals a day.
So next time you are about to go off, kick stress in the face by taking care of yourself! Meditate and get in touch with your physical self, get your training in and don’t skip your workouts, and remember…always be GRATEFUL!
Your attitude determines your altitude…don’t let stress take you down.
Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail.