Most of us have days when we feel frazzled and are searching for ways to feel calm and in control. Meditation is popular. But there many other effective ways to feel calm quickly that you can do at your desk, commuting or at home.
If your worries are getting the better of you, these top tips that have been proven to calm your mind and help you find your center.
Stress is often mistaken as a feeling, but it is our self-limiting view and imagining of future scenarios. These then allow our thoughts, which aren’t facts, to dominate, and lead to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. By bringing ourselves out of our over-analyzing conceptual view of the world and shifting the mind’s attention to the present moment, we can gain control over our thoughts.
Mindfulness teaches us that being in a sensory/perceptual mode is key to eliminating stress and helping ourselves to feel calmer.
The approaches here all involve some form of ‘dropping’into the body.’ And learning to listen to what your body is trying to tell you; after all, it knows you best! And when you focus on the body, you’ll find that you feel calm.
Sometimes sitting meditation can feel like a chore, we fidget and can settle. And we might even be too stressed and tense to sit still. In those cases, I recommend physical movement to release that tension and get back to a relaxed state. Repetitive and rhythmic movements can bring us into the state of mindfulness, giving our body a chance to press the reset button.
Some of my recommended ways to move include mindful walking, swimming, gardening, and dancing.
Walking is one of the most accessible anxiety-reducing movement-based techniques. It can clear your head, and release stress from the body. And if done in nature, you will feel more alert, open and calm. If you want to learn more about the benefits of walking then here is a link to my recent blog on Mindful Walking
The calm of gardening can bring about the state of flow, as you become fully absorbed in the activity. Gardening is grounding.
Swimming is beneficial because it focuses on deep breathing and the rhythm of your stroke, both of which are calming and relaxing. It comes with minimal distractions and is a great tension reliever.
Dancing is my personal favorite. You connect with your body and allow it to express feelings often hard to convey in words. By being mindful while dancing, you also learn about your body and embrace the flow of pleasant physical sensations, entirely with the present moment. And that’s a calm state.
Whatever practice you choose, use movement to bring your awareness to the present moment. Follow your breath as you inhale and exhale deeply. Let the rhythmic flow of your movements relax your mind.
Try to add mindful movement to your daily routine. It’s a great way to reset your mind and reduce stress, in a gentle and supportive manner.
One of the most common questions I get asked in my practice is “How can I stay calm and centered with everything going on?”
The answer is by bringing awareness to the breath.
When we felt too busy and stressed we forget to breathe. Our heart rate increases and we shallow-breathe, or even hold our breath without realizing it. We go into a state of high alert, and this triggers the fight-or-flight stress response. But if we can bring our awareness to our breath, it helps, to relieve tension. It is the perfect antidote to stress. Most relaxation therapies and meditation techniques focus on the breath as part of the process.
Deep belly breathing is very useful in taking us out of the stress response and putting us into the relaxation response.
Try this now:
Breathe shallowly and see how you feel. Now place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Then breathe deeply, observe the belly swelling on the in the breath and subsiding on the out breath. Feel the difference.
If you have ever been to a yoga class, then this will be familiar to you. Legs Up the Wall is a restorative and relaxing pose. Anyone, even a non-yogi, can do this. It’s a part of my bedtime regime that helps me to let go of the stresses of the day. It also supports better sleep, something many of us need.
It’s practiced like this. Lie on your back with your buttocks right up close to a wall (this is the tricky bit). Then extend your legs up the wall and arms out by your sides, palms up. For extra comfort, you can place a pillow, bolster or folded blanket under your hips for support and an eye pillow for extra relaxation. Stay here for 5 to 10 minutes, breathing deeply and feel the calming benefits.
Many people experience neck, shoulders, and the upper back pain from being hunched over at the desk or staring at a mobile phone. A few years ago, I kept feeling pain on my upper back until I realized it was caused by forward-head posture.
A simple shoulder roll opens up the chest, increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and body as your air pathways open. All of which leads to a greater sense of clarity. Unlike pulling your shoulders back or trying to sit up straight, this gentle rolling motion doesn’t create without muscle strain.
Do this movements one shoulder at a time. Move it a little bit forward, a little bit up, then as far back as you comfortably can without moving your body significantly. Breathe as you move.
Turn Off and Tune In
Choose a time in the evening to turn off your devices, put away your laptop and mobile phone. “Technology increases are inattention and can create stress. Regularly checking emails and social media feeds will keep you in a stimulated state, which increases over-thinking and worrying. The heightened states of alertness can contribute to a bad night’s sleep. Evenings should be a time of relaxation. Once your devices are off, you can, engage in calming activities like reading, listening to music, or engage in conversation with your family or friends.
You ’ve not anything to lose. So give some these a try and begin to feel calmer, brighter and happier
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