Stress is the number one health concern in society today. It has been shown to be a contributing factor towards the top causes of death including heart disease, suicide and even accidents.
Use the following tips to keep stress at bay.
Tip #1 - Tune into your Body
Our daily lives have us rushing around barely processing one action before moving on to the next. Before you leave the house or start your work at home routine give a few moments to mentally connect to your body. Stand or sit in a relaxed and upright position. Begin at your feet and think about how they are connected to the floor grounding yourself. As you breath deeply in and out mentally imagine your breath moving up your body taking stock of how you feel. There is no judgement during this time, simply taking stock and mental notes for use later. The focus is on your physical body. Once you make it to your head take 2-3 breaths thanking yourself for taking this time and thanking your body for supporting you.
Tip #2 - Breath
We take breathing very lightly and cavalierly until there is some challenge. The processing of air is an essential function. As adults we rush through and often do not breath properly. When taking a "breath" break you should visualize your lungs expanding as they fill with air as you breath in similar to a balloon. Exhale slowly imagining your breath is like mini energy shots you are sending through your body. These energy jolts are emerging like haze from your skin giving you and energy boost. In this tip the focus is on the breath and the power it holds as you distribute it through your body.
Tip #3 - Laugh
This is a great quick fix stress reliever that you can use throughout the day. When you find your stress levels rising it is time to break that energy. Laughter and even a smile is shown to increase endorphins which counteract cortisol which is produced when stress occurs. Set the timer on your phone for 7 minutes to keep you accountable so you won't find yourself 20 minutes later still taking a break. With 7 minutes that gives you a 3 minute buffer to get back on track. Now find a video of pets, pranks, babies or whatever tickles your funny bone and enjoy!
Tip #4 - Meditate
Many people believe that meditation is some complex, esoteric activity that is beyond them. In fact meditation is a simple practice that anyone can do. Meditation in its simplest terms is focusing on a particular thought, sight or sound. Note that I said practice because there is no perfecting it you simply work to improve. In order to meditate you need a space to be uninterrupted and as little as one minute. During that time select what you will focus on and think about only that. You can meditate to sounds such as water, traffic or even a printer printing! You can select a picture or a tree to view. The goal here is to ponder with intention on that single thing. Your mind may wander and that is okay. Treat those wandering thoughts like passing scenery during a drive. You saw them, you recognize they are there, but you still bring your focus back to the road ahead of you. Focusing on a single thought reduces brain activity which can help to reduce stress.
Tip #5 - Be present
This is my favorite stress tip to use during meals. Similar to meditation, the choice to focus your brain activity on a single act reduces stress. The difference between being present and meditation is that you are actively engaging and noticing the moments. Put your devices aside during a meal and let your brain be the only computer in use. Take time to look at your food and observe the colors and textures. Take notice how it does or does not smell before you take a bite. Take bites no larger than a tablespoon and notice how the food feels in your mouth and how it makes you feel to experience eating it. Note how you feel when finish eating. Be present.
Tip #6 - Get moving
Many times stress is caused by the inability to move or stagnation. Stagnation means the lack of activity, growth or development. This lack of movement could be emotional, mental or physical. Physical movement can help break up stagnation no matter what the type and get your chi (life force) moving again. In an office setting this could be walking to the break room on the opposite side of your building for coffee or tea. Parking your car further away and taking a stroll to your car for a break. At home you could walk to your mailbox, circle your home a couple of times or even do a few repetitions of walking up and down the stairs. Children are generally happy most when they are moving because their chi is allowed to move freely and continuously. As we age we restrict our movement more and more essentially making our souls constipated. Take a page from your youth and get moving!
Tip #7 - Be Grateful
Sounds simple, but intentionally being thankful for the positive in our lives is often overlooked. It can be a challenge to vibrate at higher, positive levels when the environments around us seems to thrive at lower frequencies. However, small consistent practice can help reduce your short term and long term stress. Recording what you are grateful for serves to immediately reduce stress and provides a long term foundation you can turn to in times of greater stress. Sticky notes are a great low cost option. Journals and even a note taking app like Evernote is a great place to store your grateful moments. A grateful jar can be a time capsule that you can review periodically. Your grateful notes can be as simple as "I'm grateful for electricity." "I'm grateful I avoided an accident on the way to work." "I am grateful my favorite shirt was clean today." "I'm grateful that person held the door for me." The goal is to chronicle the good in your life in the moment and for reflection in times where you need a little more to get your focus back positive and counteract stress.
Now go get started using these 7 ways to reduce your daily stress as you move toward the path of living your best life. I would love to hear how you reduce stress. Let me know in the comments, Twitter or on Facebook.