The pace of life for most of us these days can be summarized in three words: stressed, busy, overwhelmed. Bombarded by technology and it's intrusive demand for immediate attention we are moving at a faster pace and living on information overload. Schedules, deadlines, news events, kids, work, aging parents, chores and the list goes on. There seems to be little "down time." Some of us want to hit the brakes, escape or give up. Others are compulsively checking devices, news channels and social media.
There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the role that stress plays on our emotions and bodies. Stress related illnesses are at an all time high. We live with a prescriptive solution to most problems. While there is no magic answer to help eliminate stress entirely, there are simple ways to add in some coping techniques to calm the body's stress response.
Nature always seeks balance. Within each of us is a built in relaxation system called the parasympathetic nervous system designed to calm all arousal systems and restore the body back to homeostasis. We have the ability to intentionally activate this mechanism.
Researchers Herbert Benson & Jon Kabat-Zinn have scientifically documented the benefits of meditation and mindfulness bringing the concepts into mainstream medicine. Their years of proven research demonstrate how the mind can calm the body.
Mindfulness is the practice of quieting the mind and engaging in focused attention. It allows you to "unplug" from life and all its stressors to engage in moments of calm and relaxation. It is a turning inward and "noticing" within the moment; without judgement.
Breathing: Breath in through your nose to a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, release through your mouth to a count of 4, pause for a count of 4. Do this 4 times in a row.
Body Scan: Start at the top of your head and imagine in your mind a wave of relaxation washing over your body, releasing and relaxing all the muscles. Think of nothing else. Breathe to any areas that feel tense. Take as long as you like to reach your feet.
Awareness in the moment: Sit quietly taking in a few deep breaths. Become aware of all you can in the moment using all 5 senses, what do you see, feel, smell, taste, or touch? Notice without judgement or opinion.
To set a tone for relaxing: Light candles, ignite aromatherapy, listen to calming music, try an adult coloring book.
We are all impacted by our environment and our thoughts. Be intentional to give yourself at least 15 minutes a day to reset or offset the challenges of a busy life. Your body will thank you.