Swirling thoughts, midnight anxieties, a racing heartbeat. These are the symptoms of stress are something each of us has been faced with at one point or other. Whether you’re a smoothie-drinking Instagram-touting yogi or more comparable to a caffeinated modern day Basil Fawlty (minus the ‘tache, of course), we all know what it feels like to deal with stress.
‘Fight or flight’ has become a key buzzword in the talk around stress. And whilst ‘fight or flight’ has typically been associated with the body’s reactionary response to “acute stress”, we now know that this response can also be triggered cumulatively.
In other words, allowing everyday stresses to take hold and overwhelm us can leave us living in a permanent reactionary state. Not only does this reap havoc on our stress levels, but it can also serve to increase our risk of depression and mental illness, and even ultimately lower life expectancy.
How to Relieve Stress, Naturally
Fortunately, there are a number of techniques we can learn that serve as ways to manage stress levels that can help prevent them from taking hold. We’ve pulled together a list of our top stress-busting tips to keep you feeling calm, cool and collected whilst rockin’ those jazzy yoga pants from your bed, office – or wherever you might be:
1) Move your body
Today’s sedentary digital age serves as the perfect feeding ground for ‘The Monkey Mind’. Increasing technology has meant we have almost everything at the touch of a button. But this has also served to remove us from the physicality of everyday life, leaving us with a sense of being ‘trapped in our heads’.
The benefits of yoga for stress are endless, providing a perfect opportunity for us to check-in with our body and reground ourselves fully in the present. Sometimes the urge to ‘curl up’ and hideaway is exactly what we need, and restorative poses such as Child’s Pose or Seated Forward Fold provide us with just that. These gentle releasing asanas provide a safe haven to return to, helping us to reconnect and regroup when thoughts or emotions become overwhelming. We know that finding the time to escape the hustle and bustle of our daily routine isn’t always possible, which is why flexibility is at the heart of what we do (pun intended!). With easily accessible online yoga at your fingertips, there’s always time to take a moment out to reconnect and shake up any negative thinking patterns.
And if you’re not in the mood for yoga: put on your favourite tune and DANCE!
2) Let your mind wander…
Sometimes we get ourselves into such a frenzy of merry-go-round thinking we might not even be aware of what’s actually at the root of our stress. Whilst mindfulness meditation is often associated with “clearing thoughts” – for those of us who haven’t yet reached the status of levitating monks – it can actually best be summed up as a means by which to allow our thoughts to unwind. And often, as soon as we take a step back and give room for our thoughts to play out and we acknowledge them for what they are, we find that they begin to dissipate by themselves. Taking just 10 mins out of the day to sit and focus on our breath and the physical sensations of our body help declutter your mind and refresh your focus.
3) Just breathe
Lowering blood pressure and promoting feelings of overall well-being, conscious breathing provides ways to manage stress that helps bring balance back to mind and body. Sama Vritti (Equal Breathing) is a straightforward pranayama exercise that can help us re-centre when stress takes over. Starting from 4 breaths and working anywhere up to 8 or 9, simply start matching the length of your inhales and exhales. Conscious breathwork such as this helps to bring oxygen to our cells enhancing cellular processes, which leaves us both feeling and performing better – one of the most powerful tools we have for ways to calm down and rebalance.
So next time life goes a little haywire on you, take a moment to check-in and remind yourself, as author Richard Bach once said, that “every problem has a gift for you in its hands”.
What are your favourite ways to de-stress naturally? We would love to hear them in the comments below!
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