Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.
You Can Release Stress
How Do You Feel?
How are you feeling? Before you offer a trite, thoughtless response, pause a moment.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Place your feet firmly on the floor. Now, how are you feeling?
The last few years have taken a toll on mental health. Between the fear and anxiety of getting sick/making others sick/dying, being isolated from those we love, losing our jobs and now, the complete economic collapse, stress levels are at an all time high.
The majority of people have felt a negative impact due to myriad factors over recent events. Stress, anxiety and depression. According to the American Institute of Stress, about one third of people report feeling extreme stress. More than 75% of people report feeling stress that affects their physical health.
This article offers three simple things you can do today to help ease your own stress levels and bring you to a calmer space.
Breathe In Breathe Out Move On
When our bodies feel stressed or anxious, it releases cortisol and adrenaline. This is a natural response, commonly known as "fight or flight." We adapted to stressors in life by running away or fighting them, whether it's being chased by a tiger or fighting for food.
While our stressors have changed, the body's natural response has not. The body tenses up. Breath becomes shallow. The heartbeat increases. Blood flow increases to the limbs. Hormones are released into the bloodstream.
Many people live in a heightened state of alert, even though in reality, they are in no danger. For the most part, we are safe and there is nothing to fear. That is, unless you are in danger of harm and you have plenty to fear. In that case, the first thing you should do is get away from the danger. Move away from the danger and get safe.
For most people, fear is an inside job. We are fearful of things that don't exist. In order to free ourselves from this anxiety, we take the first step.
Whether you are sitting in traffic, sitting in a meeting, or getting ready for a presentation. When you feel that familiar sensation. Stop. Take a deep breath. Hold it for just three counts. Breathe out long and slow. If possible, hum on the exhale (probably not if you're sitting in a group of people. Definitely do this if you are carpooling teenagers. They will hate it!) The act of humming stimulates the vagus nerve, which activates the body's relax response.
The first step to releasing anxiety is simple and effective. Deep breath in. Long, slow hum out. Move on. You are safe. There is nothing to fear.
Get In The Moment
Stand in the Gap
This moment is all there is. Our lives are composed of moments. Little tiny moments that compose the symphony of life.
When we look back and get stuck in the past, we allow resentment, grudges and disappointment to color our present moment with a negative brush of depression.
When we jump ahead to the future, the unknown and uncontrollable create anxiety and worry over things that have never happened.
Stop. Stop rehashing your painful childhood or your abusive ex or your ungrateful boss. Let it go. You cannot change it. Stop catastrophizing. You cannot change what has not happened. You don't need to fear the unknown. Get off of "what-if-cliff" and show up now.
A dear friend, who also happens to be the best golf instructor in California (maybe even the world) recently reminded me that we have an opportunity to stand in the gap.
In that small moment, between an event and our automatic response is a small gap. We can stand in that space and choose how to respond in this present moment.
Someone said something to hurt your feelings or did something to hurt you. Okay. Before you lash out or fall into depression, stop. Take a breathe. Rather than react without thinking, acknowledge that you've been hurt. Now, in this moment choose to show up in reality. Is the person still there, hurting you? Move away from them. Tell them to stop. Whatever. Get away from the negative stimulus. Then let it go. Don't talk about it for the next ten years. It happened. It's done. You've moved on. Take a deep breath and choose to show up in this present moment.
Usually, our thoughts cause the most pain. We agonize over the past, wishing we could change this or that. The past is done. It is gone. In this moment, you can choose peace.
When you start thinking about the future and how you want to do this or how you want some other person to do something else, stop. All of this planning and plotting leads to anxiety and stress. Stop. You cannot predict the future. It will arrive, exactly on time, exactly as it needs to.
What you can do is be in this moment. Write down all your questions. Write down all your worries, your concerns and even your fears. Also write down your hopes and dreams and plans. Get it all out of your head and onto a page.
Create some space in your mind and in your energetic body to allow the answers to show up. Stop trying to force things to happen. Take a deep breath. Return to the moment. Allow the future to arrive exactly on time.
The only thing you need to do is enjoy the peace and perfection of this present moment.
Spending time in nature soothes the soul. We get so busy with work, kids, family and life that we forget the importance of getting outside.
No matter the weather, no matter the location, getting outside is good for you. One of my daughters reminded me that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices. If it's cold, bundle up. If it's hot, wear something loose. No matter what the weather, get yourself outside for a few minutes every day.
I understand that it's hard. When you get up before the sun and work inside a small, dark cubicle all day, then drive home in the dark, it can be difficult to imagine finding time to get outside. Who has the time to add one more thing to their to-do list?
Give yourself permission to go outside during lunch. How about if you take a bathroom break, and head outside for a few minutes to walk around the building? Unless you are chained to your desk or are in solitary confinement, serving a life sentence, you can choose to get outside and see the sky.
Have someone you respect, like a doctor or your boss or your spouse write you a permission slip to go out, or a prescription for a dose of sunshine. Whatever excuse you need, give yourself a few minutes to walk outside and see the sun. Breathe the air. Move your body.
Just five minutes spent outside can shift your mood, increase endorphins and clear the cobwebs from your mind.
You Can Choose
You choose how you feel. Although the world seems chaotic, the economy appears to be collapsing and there is chaos all around, you are not a victim of the world.
Stop. Take a deep breath.
Appreciate the moment.
With these three steps, anxiety will drop and you'll appreciate the beautiful life you live.