Original Photo Credit: Ryon:Lockhart Photography
We all have those on-the-go days when we’re running from one thing to another with little time for ourselves.
We feel the stress building, and our bodies stay revved up and ready to tackle the next obstacle. You start to experience the physical effects – maybe you feel your heart beating faster, your hands shake, you get a headache, or have to run to the bathroom.
The good news is we can minimize our stress response by becoming more aware and then taking some simple steps to start the relaxation response.
For me, stress reduction is vital to my health. I’ve learned that stress is a huge factor in my intestinal flare-ups and adrenal problems, so even on my craziest days I try to remember how important it is to slow down and breathe.
However, I know it can be tough when you’re on the brink of madness or exhaustion, so I’ve included some ways to incorporate these tips in your everyday life.
New to this? Pick one tip and try it this week. Write it down, put it in your calendar, get your co-workers or family to do it with you, or whatever will help you bring awareness to how you’re feeling. And, please share any suggestions of what works for you for stress relief.
5 Simple Stress Relief Techniques:
1. Breath Awareness
Whenever you find yourself waiting for something (the elevator, to cross the street, etc.), pause and breathe. Don’t worry about how long or if you’re doing it right, just breathe in and breathe out. Simply bringing your awareness to your breath helps you feel more in control.
2. Roll Your Shoulders
While you’re sitting in traffic, roll your shoulders up and back, do a body scan, and feel your body unclench. When we feel overwhelmed, we have a tendency to tense our necks and jaws, and hold our shoulders up by our ears – not pretty and not good for our bodies. I set reminders on my phone throughout the day to take a deep breath and roll my shoulders up and away from my ears.
3. Move Your Body
Get moving. Do a lap around your office, try a walking meeting, or stretch your arms over your head as high as you can. Try to do this each time you go to the bathroom, so it becomes a habit throughout the day. If you’re anything like me and my small bladder, you can’t minimize the bathroom breaks no matter how busy things get, so add on an extra 2 minutes for a few more steps or a nice stretch. Even a little is better than nothing.
4. Sensation Meditation
Remember that bringing your awareness to your stress is the first step in doing something about it! Try a sensation meditation to help you slow down. I do this whenever I feel totally out-of-control – I remember sitting in my car the day before my wedding, feeling totally overwhelmed and on the brink of tearing my hair out, and this simple 3-minute exercise helped me feel more like myself.
About to lose it? Stop what you’re doing and think “warm hands.” Turn away from your phone/computer, put your hands in your lap, and literally think about your hands feeling warm. This simple technique is a type of ‘biofeedback‘ in which you can learn to consciously relax your sympathetic nervous system (the one that controls your fight or flight response). How awesome is that?!