May you be well!
What is your favorite way to release stress in your body, mind and spirit? Have your practices changed over time? Take the poll above and leave a comment below if you have a practice that is not listed above. If you have not tried some of these practices, consider giving one of them a try in the coming weeks and let us know what you think.
May you be well!
Do you spend a majority of the day standing on your feet or sitting in a chair? Do you take frequent stretch breaks to reduce the impact of stress on your body? Spending time in one position can contribute to health concerns such as low back pain or swollen ankles. It is important to change your position throughout the day to restore posture and eliminate additional stress on the body. Stretching, movement or power naps in the middle of your work day are a helpful stress relief strategies. Practicing yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong are also important practices that can improve your energy levels by releasing tension and stimulating internal body rhythms.
Judith Hanson Lasater PhD, author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times, incorporates supported yoga poses and breathing techniques to help the body experience deep rest and relaxation. These poses are like hitting the reboot button on your computer. The poses and breathing help your body shut down some of the "on alert" sympathetic nervous system responses (fight or flight) that can run continually in your body, even when you don't need them. When you rest, your body's parasympathetic nervous system response (rest and digest) is stimulated, causing your body to relax and be renewed.
One of the quickest ways to reboot your body in the middle of the day is to lie down for a few minutes with your legs elevated on a chair or a couch. This will help take pressure off your low back by tilting your hips and relaxing the back muscles that normally stabilize you hips when standing. (See image below.) Lie on your back with a small towel under your head for support. Place your feet and lower legs on a chair to protect your low back. Relax for 10 - 15 minutes, breathing deeply for a few breath cycles, then allowing your breath to return to a normal rhythm.
Elevating your legs in this position helps to decrease the swelling in your ankles. The body's circulation flows against gravity when pumping fluids back toward your body while standing, making it harder to eliminate the excess fluids which are often waste products from our muscles. When you are in a seated position, the combination of bent knees and the pressure of the chair against the back of your legs slows the process of pumping those waste products and excess fluids back into your body. When you elevate your feet above heart level, you allow the natural influence of gravity to help drain the excess fluids back into your body. Rotating your ankles or wiggling your toes can also help stimulate the draining of extra fluids.
Visualization is a meditation technique using your imagination. Close your eyes and imagine exploring a safe, peaceful place in nature. Try to picture a landscape, either real or imaginary, that brings pleasure and helps you feel peaceful. This might be the beach, a lake, a park or a favorite vacation spot.
Life is unfair. There will be situations in your life that cause emotional or spiritual pain. Holding on to emotions such as anger or fear can lead to other health problems such as depression or heart problems. It can show up as jaw pain from clenching your teeth or neck pain from tension in your shoulders. When these emotions are not processed or released, you body responds by holding tension in your tissues and organ systems which can eventually lead to chronic illness.
Tapping is a technique to help shift us out of old unhealthy patterns and into new patterns. The tapping helps to imprint new muscle memory in our brain and body. There are various methods for tapping, but I like to use simple versions that are easy to remember and quick to use. Try using the methods below during a bathroom break or when you need to concentrate on a project.
Silence creates a still point in our day and can allow us to become aware of the constant “chatter” in our minds. Most people prefer silence when meditating. Silence also calms anxiety, lowers blood pressure and brings a sense of
well-being. Silence raises your awareness of the constant thoughts in your mind.
Take a few moments to savor the stillness you feel when you are silent.
Laughter and humor cause chemical changes in the body so you feel good. They improve your mental health, increase energy and decrease stress. Watch a funny movie, tell some jokes or just laugh out loud.
Smiling can also have positive benefits. Think happy thoughts and smile as often as you can. Simulating a smile by holding a pen or pencil clenched between your teeth for two minutes has also been shown to have positive effects on your body's chemistry.
Need a good laugh? I always enjoy videos from Soul Pancake, such as Kid President Laugh Party.
Studies show that 5 – 10 minutes of meditation and deep breathing a day can significantly reduce the impact of stress and improve your health and well-being. There are many ways to meditate. The goal of meditation is to switch from doing something to simply being present in the moment.
I enjoyed having a tea break when traveling in Great Britain. It's a habit I wish we had here in the United States. I wait for the tea kettle to boil, while I select my tea bag. Sometimes I choose green tea, sometimes herbal tea and occasionally Jasmine tea. I allow the tea to steep for 5 - 10 minutes, so it is strong.
A cup of tea in a secluded spot provides a short meditation pause from your normal daily rush and helps increase your productivity. Savor each sip as your body relaxes. Try different herbal teas for their various health benefits.
I sometimes drink "Healer Tea" from Nuwati Herbals, when I feel a cold developing. It is a very powerful blend of herbs that boosts your immune system. One sniff of the bottle will have you sneezing and clear your sinuses before you even take your first sip! I add a bit of local honey and am soon feeling better. Sometimes I use my juicer to enjoy a combination of fresh ginger, a whole lemon and local honey to sooth a sore throat.
Whether you take a coffee break or a tea break, I hope you savor the warmth and enjoy the mini-pause in your routine.
"Somehow Jesus, I like prayer with a cup of coffee in my hands. I guess the warmth of the cup settles me and speak of the warmth of your love. I hold the cup against my cheek and listen, hushed and still. I blow on the coffee and drink. Spirit of God, bow across my little life an let me drink in your great life." - Richard Foster in Prayers from the Heart (Harper-Collins:1994)
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