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.
Many of us have more stuff than we really need. Material objects can distract us from the things that are really important in our life. Do you need some ideas to get rid of clutter and simplify your life?
When you simplify you home and work space, you improve your efficiency and avoid mental distractions.
One way to simplify your space is to take 10 minutes each day to organize one small area. Clean out a desk drawer. Sort through a box in the basement. Go through a stack of papers and find a home for each one. For each item you pick up, determine if you will love it, use it, recycle it or discard it. This method will help you determine which things to keep and which things need to go.
Some people believe the state of organization or clutter in your house reflects the condition of your inner soul. Try organizing the clutter in one area in your house such as a drawer or closet and notice if you feel any changes in your thinking, your mood or your inner sense of peace. Sometimes when you let go of something in your life, you notice other possibilities open up. De-cluttering can be cathartic.
If simplifying your home feels too overwhelming, ask a friend to come over and help you sort through things. Sometimes when you honor the story behind the objects, it is easier to let them go. Consider hiring a consultant to help you organize your things. Donate the things you do not use to a charity.
Simplify your life and enjoy the freedom that comes with letting go.
Can you spend the next ten minutes sorting and simplifying one small area in your living or work space? Set a timer and simplify!
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.
There are many studies on the healing effects of music. Music has the potential to relax the body, calm the mind and soothe the soul. Personal tastes in music vary. Each genra will impact the body, mind and spirit in different ways.
If you are new to meditation, you may find it helpful to have quiet relaxing music playing in the background. Instrumental music such as classical or new age music are often better options that music with words, that distract the mind.
Change the tempo of music to alter your mood, improve concentration or increase your creativity. Fast tempos greater than 100 beats per minute tends to increase your productivity, energy level and alertness. Slower tempos in the 50 to 60 beats per minute range induce a state of relaxation and concentration, so are helpful to use when memorizing, studying or focusing on a task.
Pay attention to how you feel when you listen to music. There is a wide assortment of CDs available with nature sounds, guided imagery or binaural beats to encourage deeper relaxation. Binaural beats refers to the illusion that happens in our brain when we hear one tempo or tone in one ear, while a different tempo or tone plays in the other ear via stereo headphones. Sometimes these sounds synchronize and other times they are dissonant. This causes an expanded state of awareness as the brain attempts to make sense of the differences. Some of my favorite websites such as www.Hemi-Sync.com or www.sequoiarecords.com carry a wide variety of music selections.
What types of music do you listen to? Which types of music are relaxing and which types are energizing?
As we establish new routines with the start of the new year, remember to take time for yourself every day. Sleep in and catch up on your rest on your day off. Take a power nap in the middle of the day. Take a spa bath. Pause to breathe. Or simply sit and do nothing. This is one way to be present to yourself.
Massage is a great self care practice for your body. Many people hold tension in their neck, shoulders and back. Find someone trained in Massage or other bodywork techniques by checking online listings such as American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or International Association of Healthcare Practitioners (IAHP). Schedule a professional massage on a regular basis for self care. Have your massage therapist show you how to stretch or rub sore areas.
It is important to take a break from your regular routine every hour to increase productivity and restore your posture. Meditation and breathing are just a few ways you can take a break. Some other ideas for a quick break include taking a walk, doing stretches, changing positions at your work station, taking a 10 minute power nap, planning a vacation or using the many ideas from your other Balance Resource Cards.
Begin your day by pausing in silence. Take a few deep breaths, then allow your breathing to return to normal. Take a moment to set some intentions for the day. Taking a moment for this simple practice is helpful for introverts.
Life often feels busy. When you pause during the day, you create a still point which helps to anchor you in a whirlwind of activity. Pausing allows you to listen and hear your quiet inner voice that cannot be heard over the constant activity and noise of daily life. It allows you to become present in the moment. As the brain chatter and stream of thoughts slow down, you begin to notice what is happening within your inner landscape.
Life can be stressful. One way to relax your body, mind and spirit is to take a hot bath. Light some candles, turn on some quiet music and spend time letting go of the thoughts that bounce around in your head.
At the first sign of a cold, soak in a tub of warm water boost your immune system and eliminate toxins through your sweat glands. Pour 2 cups Epsom salts, 32 ounces hydrogen peroxide and a tea ball filled with 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger into your bath water. Soak for 20 minutes. Always get out slowly and moisturize your skin after you dry your body. Remember to drink fluids to re-hydrate as your body sweats out extra fluid with the toxins.
For a relaxing bath which can reduce muscle pain and relax tired muscles, try 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup baking soda and 10 - 20 drops of an essential oil such as lavender or vanilla. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then slowly get out of the tub, dry off, moisturize your skin and drink plenty of fluids.
Pamper yourself with a hot bath!
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