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!
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.
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.
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!
When you experience stress, your body tends to tighten and hold on to that tension. Common places you might carry stress include your neck, shoulders, jaw and low back. When you feel this tension, try gently stretching the muscles. Hold for at least 20 - 30 seconds while imagining your breath flowing through the tight area as if releasing the tension.
Stretch your neck with a hand on your shoulder while tilting your head in the opposite direction until you feel it starting to pull a little, then hold. This gives a gentle stretch to your tight neck muscles. Repeat on the other side.
Gently lean forward to stretch your low back and tight hamstrings for several minutes. It should not be painful. This will help loosen tight muscles in the hips and pelvis which cause low back pain. Breathe deeply and notice how good this feels.
Now slowly lean backwards to stretch your back to open up your tight hips and counteract the impact of poor posture. Use pillows to support your back while relaxing in a gentle back stretch for several minutes. Breathe deeply. It should feel good. This is a key restorative yoga pose.
Stress is a normal part of life. How you handle that stress impacts your health and well-being. When you hold on to the stress in your body, disease processes can begin to impact the body. While disease is an opportunity for growth and change, it is even better to prevent the impact of stress on your body, mind and spirit. You have a wide range of resources available to make a positive impact on your health. Which self care resources will you choose to release the stress-held tension in your body?
Pay attention to changes in your body caused by stress which activates the sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight response. Changes caused by stress may include muscle tension, headaches, difficulty breathing, sleeplessness or digestive issues. The sympathetic nervous system can become constantly on alert mode with repeated stress, which can lead to long term problems and chronic pain.
Relaxation techniques activate your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your body's rest and digest response. This can break the fight or flight response that continually triggers with constant stress. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, your muscles relax, your breathing and heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases and your digestive system begins to gurgle and resume digestion. In this state, your body is best prepared for healing, which impacts your overall health and wellness.
Acupressure points are often sore spots on your body. The points are gently held for several minutes to release energy blockages that cause pain and interfere with the energy flow and overall health of your internal organs. You can also gently massage these points in a small circle. Release the finger pressure gradually as the tension begins to release. There are many acupressure charts available by searching online for these points.
The K 27 Immune points are stress release points that are located in the space just below the collar bone and to the side of your breastbone. Press these points gently to release the impact of stress on your body and activate a relaxation response. They can boost your immune system and relieve the first signs of a cold, a cough or chest congestion. They also work great to reduce your nervousness right before you speak or perform in public.
Take a few moments to gently press the above stress release points while doing deep breathing for several breath cycles. What do you notice?
Self care begins with an awareness of what you need for your own well-being and a commitment to you. Self care means taking care of yourself first, before you take care of those around you. When you honor yourself first, you free yourself from unhealthy expectations of others and have more energy for healthy living. It is empowering to be involved in your own healing process. Treating disease is most effective when done on every level: emotionally, physically and spiritually. Self care is an important part of healing and inner peace.
Ten minutes per day of meditation or deep breathing can calm your mind and emotions by initiating the healing process through the parasympathetic nervous system. Meditation, deep breathing or listening to relaxing music are some of the fastest and least expensive ways to achieve inner peace. Yoga, creative arts and laughter can also be helpful Explore the resources available to you. Give yourself permission to take care of you first!
Make a list of the things you can do for self care and post it where you see it daily. What things help release the stress held in your body? Consider things like movement, bodywork or yoga. What helps clear your mind? Meditation, breathing, silence or music might be tools you choose. What gives you energy and revives your spirit? Some people enjoy time in nature while others choose creativity or practicing gratitude. Add to your list of self care ideas when you discover new practices. Try to do something every day for yourself, even if it means scheduling a block of time on the calendar in order to make it a priority.
Choose something from your self care list to enjoy right now!
Breathing is an important way to reduce our stress levels. It helps you think clearly. It also helps oxygenate the tissues, which appears to prevent the growth of cancer cells in some studies. We all need to breathe. Many of us breathe from the upper part of our chest instead of our diaphragm. Try this experiment to determine if you are breathing correctly. Lie down on a flat surface and place a box of tissues on your stomach. Now breathe normally. You should notice the box rising and falling with your breath cycle. If it is not doing this, pay attention to drawing the breath into your lower abdomen and filling this area before filling your upper chest. Practice this for a few minutes until it feels natural.
Deep breathing switches your body's fight or flight stress response into a rest and digest relaxation response. Try the following 4 - 7 - 8 count cycle. Take a deep breath for a count of 4. Use your entire lung capacity by starting your breath from your abdominal area, up to the diaphragm, then expanding your ribs out as far as possible. Hold for a count of 7, then slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat the process for several breath cycles. You may also try counting each breath backwards in cycles of 4 as another strategy for quieting your mind.
Slow breathing while smiling and moving your eyes activates different parts of the brain, promoting deep relaxation. Find a rectangle object in your line of vision. Look at the upper left corner. As your eyes move to the upper right corner, inhale for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4 as your eyes move to the lower right corner of the object. Exhale for a count of 4 as your eyes move to the lower left corner. Now hold your breath and smile while your eyes return to the upper left corner of the object. Repeat several times.
There are other breathing exercises you can find here. Try intentionally breathing every few hours during the day. Set a timer to remind you.
Take a few moments and breathe mindfully right now. What do you notice?
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