Stress is a killer. Literally. But instead of getting all doom and gloom about it, let’s look at it from the perspective of healing rather than hand-wringing, shall we? A major key to honoring and loving up your body is fighting stress, and while it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate stress from a modern-day lifestyle (I can hear y’all laughing your asses off right now at the mere thought), we can use some of the techniques below to help us relieve the effects of stress by relaxing the body, mind, and spirit. Think of them like a de-stress soul aid kit. You know, for when you just want to tell the world to go smudge itself.
Below are some simple stress-relief techniques I have tried and come to trust to help center, ground, and relax me in times of stress, anxiety, and depression. (They’re like the three-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld for me—one hardly ever shows up without the other two!) Also, why not use more than one de-stress superpower at a time to fight your stress monsters.I use a lot of these techniques when my wheels have come right off altogether, or sometimes when I’ve just hit a bump in a road.
Based on my own experiences and the experiences of those close to me, it seems that people tend to quickly connect with one or two stress-coping tools that suit their level and flavor of stress (if only stress came in mint chocolate chip or praline pecan), and the key is to remember everything has to be balanced—you can’t always be flying high, and that’s okay. You’re gonna have low days, weeks, sometimes even months, but happiness and well-being will come when you learn how to manage your stressors in sustainable ways; your lows won’t be so low and so long.
The number-one hurdle where coping with stress is concerned is time. First question I ask stress addicts: “Do you believe you have no time to de-stress?” It can become a vicious cycle if you’re not careful. We think, I need more time to focus on reducing my stress, which in turn, stresses us out more. So here’s my challenge to you for this section: take ten minutes. Just ten. That’s it. Every day, preferably at the same time every day, devote those ten minutes to a stress-reduction technique of your choosing. Try out all of the ones below or just one or two, but promise me this: stick with at least one of them for a week, and then a month...and then two—onward until those precious ten minutes are your go-to time to focus on you and give some love and kindness back to your incredible body.
(For the record, if you think breathing is woo-woo, then maybe we should go over the four things we all must do to survive: sleep, eat, drink, and breathe. All mandatory for living, so it ranks a zero on the Woo-Woo Scale.) Crazy simple, right? Yes, I’m really telling you to inhale oxygen into your lungs and exhale carbon dioxide. Think about it: When was the last time you took a moment to really just breathe?
Negative self-talk can be the quickest catalyst to spark a stress-out. When our minds start going a hundred miles an hour with the thinking, processing, and worrying, our bodies’ adrenaline response can also kick into overdrive. Quiet the negative self-talk by having a mantra or affirmation that helps you collect yourself. I often tell myself simple mantras such as, “Keep life simple,” “It always works out,” and “Zoom out for a minute.” We’ll learn more about mantras later in the chapter.
Zen exists and you can go there! Think of it as your inner garden of peace, your sanctum where negative weeds of thought cannot grow and where you nourish and cultivate loving, peaceful, fulfilling thoughts and actions. Change your thoughts and focus your energy on yourself, recharging and fueling your positivity. Take five minutes of Zen time a day among the chaos to check in with yourself—incorporate them into your ten minutes of stress self-care or take another five specifically for your Zen time; it’s up to you. Are you tense? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Ask your body these questions with a still and caring mind, and your body will be honest with you. Serve your body’s needs, listen to what your body has to say, and remember that it operates best when it is relaxed, fueled, and centered.
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