By Jenn Mason
I am guilty of going about my day without thinking about how my actions impact my body and mind. There are days that go by without any self-care practices. When I finally take the time to just sit and breathe, practice yoga or get an acupuncture session I notice the difference instantly. My body is more at ease, my mind and spirit are calm, the back pain I experience is gone and my headaches subside. What is most surprising is what difference it makes in my interactions with my husband, co-workers and strangers I encounter on the road.
Though I have been practicing yoga for years now, I did not make the mind body connection until I practiced self-care for one week straight. As part of a movement awareness class I practiced qi gong, yoga and soft-belly breathing for seven consecutive days. I went online and found a couple of free 20 minute videos and began my practice. Within the day I noticed a significant change not only in my body, but my mind was clear, my mood was lighter and my spirit felt at peace because I wasnt so worried or caught up in the daily grind.
I am a “worry-wart” by nature and I tend to rush because if I am not running late I have a long to-do list. I am also a control freak and want to make the most of my day by cramming in as much as I can. Which, come to think about it is a little counter-intuitive for someone wanting to live with less stress.
Needless to say that despite my controlling characteristics I am learning to live more in the “calm and at ease” space that I discovered during my week of self-care.
Instead of living in the constant “fight or flight” state and doing damage to our adrenal glands why not take three long breaths?
Our bodies are capable of creating and living in a state of relaxation, why not take advantage of these free tools?
Below are some easy steps you can take on a daily basis to kick start your journey to less stress.
1. Before opening an email take three deep breaths from your belly (you should feel your belly expand with every inhale).
2. During your lunch break go outside (weather permitting), sit comfortably with your back against a wall or bench and your feet on the ground. Let your arms relax and close your eyes gently. Begin to breathe, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take 5 minutes and increase as needed.
3. Go for a walk! Walking meditations are easy and free. Instead of bringing your phone and checking it as you walk, plug in some of your favorite music OR go without media and bring your awareness to the sights, smells, what you hear. Feel the wind against your hair and the sun on your skin. How does this feel? Bring your awareness to your surroundings while walking in silence
If you need a guided soft belly meditation I would recommend Dr. James Gordon’s soft belly meditation.
This article originally appeared on Jenn’s personal blog, Heart Filled Life. For more inspirational posts follow her blog for regular tips on staying happy and healthy.
Jenn’s background is in non-profit management, health care and sociology. She is a birth doula and leads stress reduction and mindful living workshops. She holds a master’s in women’s health and is currently getting a PhD in Mind-Body Medicine with a certification in health and wellness coaching and hypnosis.