How stressed are you? As a nation, we are debilitated by stress and anxiety – from teenagers to elderly people, it’s a problem of epidemic proportions. Most of us are aware of the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome, it’s meant to be a safety mechanism – so that if we are threatened by a tiger or similar we are alerted and can take flight until the danger has passed. Today of course there are usually no tigers coming after us, but we are kept continually in this heightened state of being – on alert, and so the chemicals that flood our body to help us run fast, are being stimulated constantly. This leads to an almost continual state of stress, which makes us unbalanced, anxious, and can result in numerous physical symptoms too. Stress can make you ‘wired and tired’ as well as fat.
There are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of stress including exercise, good sleep, good nutrition and some form of meditation, guided visualisation or mindfulness, as well as of course therapeutic treatments. Breathing properly is important, we are often told to take deep breaths and imagine the words ‘peace’ or ‘relax’ as we exhale. Since most of us are super busy, and often too ‘stressed’ to diarise those important massages and treatments, here’s a few tips from experts in the know for ‘speed relaxation’.
Cai Graham is a parenting coach and therapist and recommends ‘box breathing’ which really helps quieten the mind down and restore calm:
Imagine a box, trace the top of the box in your mind and breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4, trace the side of the box and breathe out slowly through your mouth for a count of 4, trace the bottom of the box breathing in slowly for 4, and then the other side of the box breathing out for 4. Repeat as many times as you need until you notice you are feeling less anxious. www.caigraham.com
Ciara Jean Roberts is a yoga teacher and naturopathic nutritionist, she suggests standing bare foot on the grass or sandy beach, this is commonly known as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’, and is a simple technique that helps you to draw in essentially an energy infusion from the earth. There is increasing research around this area including how it can help to relieve chronic pain and reduce blood pressure. www.whollyaligned.com
Beverley Densham is The Angel Coach and the founder of Angelic Lifestyle, she says:
Wherever you are, shut your eyes & simply take 10 breaths in & out. Breathe in through your nose & exhale through your mouth & relax. Repeat 10 times. This can be whilst sitting, standing or lying down. This quick 10 breaths pick me up is one of the best daily relaxations you’ll ever do. You do have time! www.angeliclifestyle.com
Marian Bourne, creator of ‘Goodbye Stress and Burn Out: 90 Days to Reclaim Your Health and Energy’ agrees that just 5 minutes a day of breath work (alternate nostril breathing) can lower your stress levels, clear your mind and help you relax. And what if you knew that this would help you sleep better and improve your sex life? www.thebournepractice.com
Colette Bardell is a restorative yoga teacher who suggests another simple breathing technique…
Lie on the floor with your legs up the wall and focus on taking long exhales. This type of breathing triggers the rest and digest nervous system, lowering your heart rate and cholesterol. www.satisfythehunger.com
Mindfulness is important too, being fully aware of what you are doing at any given time, Irene Brankin asks her clients to focus on something – it can be anything, even a cup – simply observe it and see what you see and keep bringing your attention back to it (you can hold it in your hands). www.thevisiblewoman.com
I remember doing this kind of exercise while eating an apple, really savoring every mouthful and noticing the texture, it definitely seemed to calm me down.
So however stressed you are, take a few moments for some self-care – repeat after me…Relax