We all know stressors are bountiful these days. You wake up feeling your oats, and then something pops up, catches you by surprise and leaves you a little flustered. Or perhaps in full blown panic. It’s okay, we’ve been there! Here’s some tactics for your stress toolbox that gets you back to your base level in a snap.
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This one may look a little odd but it’s super effective at getting your breath evened out, and slowing your heart rate. Take your thumb and ring finger of your dominant hand (or pinkie, whichever is most comfortable). Cover your right nostril with your thumb and breath in slowly. Cover both nostrils and hold. Now switch! With your ring finger over your left nostril, exhale slowly. Inhale, plug, repeat! Doing this for one or two minutes really helps you focus on breathing, and draws away focus from your stressor. You can tackle it!
2. Body Scan
This is a type of meditation you can do anywhere, and none will be the wiser! You can do this sitting on your commute, at your desk, wherever you have five or ten minutes! Start by taking a few deep breaths- when our breathing slows, so does that pitter-patter heart rate. Then, beginning at your toes, slowly take notice of each body part. If there is pain there, acknowledge it and the emotions you might have associated to that pain. When we experience anxiety, it manifests in our bodies. The pain may not necessarily go away during your body scan, but understanding the synchronicity between mind and body, and taking the time to unite them helps you get that control back!
3. Chew Gum
This one might seem a little silly, but it’s literally the oldest trick in the book! To know why, we have to go way back to when we were hunter gatherers. We have these far ancestors to thank (or blame) for our anxiety responses. Back then when we’d encounter a predator, we had a very useful response we now call fight/flight. This was incredibly helpful for deciding on the fly what to do about the woolly mammoth in our path, but now this response can come up in situations not as dire, and can sometimes be less of a help to us. Another thing we held on from our ancestors is the chewing trick! See, hunter gatherers never sat down for a meal unless they knew they were completely safe. Now when we eat (or chew gum) we trick our brain into thinking we’re safe and it calms us. Thanks for the zen, ancient humans!
4. Forward Fold
You might be familiar with this yoga move, and maybe see it just as a part of your yoga routine, but it’s magic! Bend fully at the waist, and let your head and arms hang. You can sway back and forth, or do a little twist to stretch your back too. Letting your blood flow in the opposite direction, and towards your brain helps your mind reset (and we can always use a little reset sometimes).
5. Speak Kindly to Yourself
Do you have an affirmation that speaks to you yet? These simple phrases allow you to return your thoughts to more positive self talk. It seems too often our inner dialogues can be our worst enemies when it comes to stress management. If you haven’t got one yet, here is a link to our blog on positive affirmations (Affirmations That Can Change Your Life) or get creative! You know you best, and often it’s the affirmations we are reluctant to tell ourselves that we need to hear the most. Believe it’s true, because it totally is!
6. Bonus Tip!
If you know ahead of time that you have to tackle a stressful event, or maybe something that used to be mundane but gives you pause now, plan a pleasurable accompaniment. Have a big presentation or interview coming up? Plan to speak to a beloved friend or family member on your commute. Errand you find daunting? Plan to get yourself a little treat that excites you for your trip. Planning ahead and pairing something you find pleasurable with something you find stressful will slowly over time change your neural pathways to not see that event as a threat.
Above all have patience and be kind to yourself. When it comes to anxiety and stress we can often get frustrated and impatient and assign blame to our reactions. You aren’t alone, and self love isn’t selfish! Always remember your spare moments are the moments for self care, and any moment is a good moment for self love!