Majority of individuals say ‘yes’ when asked if they are stressed on a regular basis. Stress is the strain our body feels while responding to challenging events. We create a ‘fight-or-flight’ response to the input received by our surroundings. This ‘fight-or-flight’ response causes an imbalance in our nervous, hormonal, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
In today’s society, there are a multitude of opportunities for our bodies to become imbalanced. We have endless to-dos, ongoing lists, demanding events, overlapping obligations, deadlines and there is always more, more, more. At times, this constant ‘doing, producing, achieving’ can be more stressful than rewarding. How do we pause in the midst of this ‘busy’ and take a moment to simply relax? Mindfulness. We allow ourselves to be rooted in the present moment. This relieves us from the frustration of the past and worry of the future. In addition, mindfulness presents us with the opportunity to relax and the ability to soothe our bodies into balance.
5 simple ways to de-stress
1. Breathe, breathe, breathe! This is the number one way one can release stress and built up stagnant energy. Pranayama is a simple breath work technique for becoming conscious of your inhales and exhales. Simply close your eyes, inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four (1-2-3-4), hold your breath for four counts (1-2-3-4) and release your breath through your mouth for four counts (1-2-3-4). Continue this technique for 5 minutes. This can be done on your drive to work, at your desk or when you wake up each morning.
2. Get out in nature. Take a walk around the block and move your energy. Ditch the phone! Don’t take it with you, leave it at home. Technology is not a ‘de-stress’ tool. While walking, simply notice the sounds around you. Stay focused on your movement and how your body feels. Nature has a soothing quality and heals our nervous system.
3. Notice your five senses. Pause to ask yourself, ‘What do I see right now? What do I hear right now? What do I feel right now? What do I smell right now? What do I taste right now?’ Keep yourself focused on what is happening in the now.
4. Stretch to soothing music. Create a soothing space in your home to stretch and feel your body move. Use your breath work from #1 above to integrate deeper into your body.
5. Take a bath with epsom salt and candles. Epsom salt allows the muscles to relax and being near candles allows your nervous system to unwind.
Marian Mellen is a speaker, thought leader and mindfulness coach in Phoenix, Arizona. She works with companies and organizations to develop new skills and practical tools to release stress, restore energy, and increase workplace productivity. Marian lifts the layers of ‘busy’ and guides participants into mindfulness to enhance the workplace culture and make big SHIFTS happen.