It’s happening. Your mind is racing, body tensing up. The “to do” list is growing inside your head as you panic that you will forget to get it all done. The stress and pressure building,
We have all been there. We have all had those moments where the stress and anxiety of the day have pooled into every moment of our life. There seems to be no escape. Except, maybe there is. My goal when working with clients is to create a calmer lifestyle long term. For most, they are just beginning to recognize their need for tools on how to de-stress. Many often need an immediate tool to do this. It takes un-learning, or as my friend Ken Hannaman would say, you need to “ungraduate” from the reactions of stress and anxiety. New habits need to be formed, realization of triggers need to be explored. Often, people need a more immediate solution.
Here are some things I have done that I found successful. These are simple things you can implement right now, today, this moment. You may have heard these before. You might have even rolled your eyes at them, but there is a reason you continue to see these same things mentioned over and over again, THEY WORK.
Write it out
As a writer, one of my absolute favorite things to do when I am stressed is to write. It’s my go to. I grab my journal and throw every thought swirling around in my head onto the page. I do not worry about how it sounds, how it looks, who will read it, or what they will think. I just get it out. All of the noise in my head spews onto the page and by the end I usually find some clarity.
Sometimes I find that I can re-read what I just wrote and add some of those things to my daily “To Do” list, and other times I shut the book and take a big, cleansing breath. Our brain tends to repeat things, have you ever noticed? The same thoughts rolling around at the most inopportune moments. It’s never when you are making the “to do” list. It’s never while you are in the grocery store buying the groceries. It’s often when you shut the lights at night to try to go to sleep, or when you sit down to concentrate on a task. Those sneaky thoughts will swarm in and overwhelm you. For this I say, don’t fight them. Let them out. Grab a pen and paper and have at it. Let the noise from inside flow onto the page. Then sit back and breathe. Your brain can rest, your muscles can release, and you can take a breath knowing that those things nagging your brain have been released. Give it a try.
The power of music
Did you know that there have been multiple studies about the connection between music and how our bodies feel and react? When we listen to music, we feel things and have physical reactions. Have you ever heard a song and felt like crying? Have you ever heard a song and been filled with joy? How about listening to a song with the overwhelming urge to dance? According to this article on wired.com, The Neuroscience of Music, “sound stirs us at our biological roots.” In that article they reference a group of scientists from Montreal who discovered in their experiment that when listening to music the subjects all had a release of dopamine in two areas of the brain. Dopamine, as we all know, makes us happy.
This article is not alone in its study of the neuroscience of music. A quick search can pull up a ton of information on the subject. What it boils down to is we are physically and neurologically engaged when we hear music. This is one of my favorites to have on in the background. A soothing mix of gentle piano notes and as a bonus the gentle movement of the sea life can play in the background for hours. If instrumental grates on your nerves, try just stepping away from your normal music. If your go to is dance music, switch the channel to the golden oldies. If you prefer country, try some soft rock…Shake your brain up a bit with something different. Let your body have a reaction to the music, allow it to change your mood for just a little while.
Take a breath
I know, I know. You think this does nothing. I get it…But humor me. You may be amazed to find that you can only breath in for a 3 count, and blow out for barely that. Why? Because you are stressed. Your body is tense, blood is not flowing correctly and easily through your tense muscles. Let’s help those muscles out, shall we? Deep breathing has ‘been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system, and maybe even the expression of genes.” according to an article on nor.org. Without getting too heavy into the details of the connection between breathing and your body, I would like you to understand that there is, in fact, a deep connection.
I am not asking that you find a quiet room in the corner of your busy home or office. I am not suggesting you need to lay down, light candles and set a mood. Though you are certainly welcome to do those things, they are not necessary to help relieve you in a pinch. You can do this in the car, or in the bathroom stall at work. Take a few minutes, take just a moment, and enjoy a cleansing breath. What makes your breath cleansing? In the most simple explanation, the one I use for my children, a breath is cleansing when you can feel some of your tight muscles begin to relax. If you can feel it in your sore muscles like your neck, then the inside muscles, the ones that you cannot feel, will also be impacted. Inhale in for as long as you can, and count while you inhale. Now exhale, and count as you breathe out. Repeat this. Visualize the breath filling all of your tense muscles. For me, that is my upper back/ neck area. I close my eyes and visualize the breath reaching those places. Then I blow out, nice and slow.
When I first began doing this I could barely breathe in for a 3 count. With time, and a little more research into breath work, I am now able to elongate my inhales and exhales. I have learned what this practice does to my body, my heart rate, my muscles, and my mental mood. This is now something I practice often. It does not take me long. I find it incredibly helpful in moments of stress. Let’s face it, even the most well balanced and calm life will have moments of stress. This is a useful technique for us all.
Start your De-stress journey!
Today, I challenge you to choose one or all of the above. Give these very simple things a chance, and see how you feel? We know that eliminating stress is something that takes time. It requires long term changes to undo physical reactions and habits. Sometimes, in those moments when we are overwhelmed, we need something a little more immediate. It’s ok that you are in this moment. So many of us have traveled that path, too. Should you wish to cultivate a lifestyle with more clarity and less stress, give some of these things a try. They are simple, and not time consuming. It’s a small exercise to work into your busy day, but easily achieved. When you give it a try, let me know how it went email@example.com. I would love to support you on your journey to de-stress.