Mindfulness Monday - Stress Relief

Stress. It’s something we all deal with on a regular basis and probably more often than any of us would like. The thing is it can have long term, and sometimes serious, consequences. Not only is it taxing on us emotionally and mentally, stress can have some uncomfortable physical side effects as well - low energy, headaches, upset stomach, muscle tension, chest pains, and insomnia just to name a few.

For me, dealing with the root of the stress isn’t always an easy, or quick, thing to accomplish. It can feel like just when I’ve put out one fire another bursts into flames somewhere else. Recently I’ve been juggle work, a relationship, a very sweet but somewhat difficult rescue dog, moving my home and, added on last week, the loss of a family member due to cancer. All of these things as isolated situations are seemingly much easier to manage but together start feeling heavy and it gets harder to maintain a balance.

One thing that helps me push through is remembering although we don’t get to control what life throws at us at any given moment, we absolutely do have the power to choose how we react. Taking even the shortest amount of time throughout the day to practice a handful of simple stress relief techniques can bring harmony back into mind and body and helps to alleviate some of the pressure.

Here are just several of the many things you can try to help relieve whatever stressors you are experiencing in your life at the moment.

Remember to breath
Breathing is something we do on autopilot. It’s not something that has to be taught or learned. But we aren’t always conscious of it. Taking time to stop, become present and focus on taking several deep breaths can do wonders to relax your body and recenter your mind. It might just be the short brake you need to slow down and find new energy to deal with the tasks at hand.

Go to your happy place
Close your eyes for just a moment and transport yourself to a peaceful, comforting location. It could be your favorite vacation spot or the personal utopia that exists only for you. Stay there for a moment. Take in every detail of your place. Make a note of each element. Visualize how each of your senses are affected there. What do you hear? What do you smell? How does the air feel on your skin? Allow the time you spend there, however long or short, to increase your inner calm and nip the tension in the bud.

Change your environment
Sometimes taking a step away from your current project or place can help refocus energy. If you can manage it, take a walk outside. This not only helps by giving you a change of scenery and a momentary healthy distraction, the effects of simply being outside breathing in fresh air provides more oxygen to the brain which helps to soothe stress. If you aren’t able to go for a stroll, take a trip to another room. The time it takes your brain to absorb it’s new surrounding takes more energy than keeping you at the same level of frustration you had in the previous place. It’s a quick way to trick your brain into settling down.

photo by Melissa Morrin

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