Power Posse Post by Alicia Lawrence
It’s no secret: stress is everywhere. It surrounds us and consumes us. From expectations at work to busy family schedules, stress is real, and it can be overwhelming.
It can also be detrimental to our health. In fact, it’s been proven that excess cortisol levels (a chemical released during stressful situations) can lead to weight gain, fatigue and depression. These real-life side effects of something so many people dismiss as a “normal part of life” demonstrate that it can be so much more.
They also prove that stress and things that cause it should be dealt with regularly. Although it cannot be eliminated, stress can become less of a burden by learning stress management techniques like meditation.
Soak It Away
Simply taking the time to relax in water can do a lot for relieving stress. In this area there are two options: hot and cold water.
Hot water provides instant relaxation and soothes tired muscles and minds. It increases blood flow and allows time to slow down. A lot can be said for taking a hot bath at the end of a long day as far as stress relief is concerned.
In comparison, cold plunge pools have been gaining popularity as well. By allowing your body to be immersed in cold water (while forcing your mind to relax), you’re allowing muscles that you might not use on a regular basis to tense up and then relax. This leads to long term health benefits that can be hard to come by otherwise. Cold water is also very beneficial if you have sore muscles.
While in the bath, clear your mind and let your negative thoughts and worries slip into the water and down the drain.
Find Your Mantra
What’s important to you? What do you need to place more focus on? Make this your mantra.
A mantra is a word or phrase repeated over and over. It forces you to focus on one thing and helps block distractions. Maybe you need to work on relaxation…where’s your quiet place? “Ocean sunrise” may be a great mantra for you. Perhaps you want to focus on your stamina at work “I can do it” could work as your mantra. Maybe it’s a Bible verse or motivational quote.
Whatever you decide, find a word or phrase that is meaningful to you and represents fullness, goals and aspirations. Repeat it in a quiet place with your eyes shut while in a comfortable position and keep going until you’re ready to face your day.
Focus On the Present
A large part of meditation is directing your focus. Although a mantra may not be right for you, you still need to be able to focus on something that’s calming.
So often, we focus on the future and what’s coming next. It leads to stress and anxiety. Instead, make an effort to clear a part of your day, to close your eyes and to focus on the present, on the here and now.
Think about yourself, about your surroundings, about your movements and just relax. By bringing everything back to a central location, a central focus, you’ll be relieving stress little by little.
While it may seem silly considering that breathing is a pretty integral part of life, focused breathing is a technique that doesn’t receive enough credit.
Meditative breaths fill the stomach before the chest, it allows for deeper breathing that forces the breather to slow down. Take your time to work on this method. Once again, turn off any distractions, shut your eyes and find a comfortable position, either sitting up or even laying down with your knees bent.
My high school anatomy teacher introduced me to meditation. Every morning, as a class, we took five minutes to do a few basic balance exercises, march in place, and then she had us inhale for 8 seconds, hold the breath for another 8 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds. We did this deep breathing set 3 times. Afterwards, I always felt so much more focused and awake. A few minutes of deep, focused breathing can provide lasting health benefits and relaxation.
Today it can be harder than ever to find real rest and quietness. In the modern world it takes an effort to enjoy these things.
By finding a quiet place that’s away from all distractions (cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions, kids, music and noise in general), you’ll be forced to focus on yourself. Even if it’s for just five minutes a day, taking the time to find your quiet place and dwell in it will help in alleviating stress.
The most important thing to remember when working on meditating away stress is that no method is right for everyone. Try out a few methods and find which works best for you. Then, make it a priority every day.
Author Bio: Alicia Lawrence is a Harrisburg-based writer and entrepreneur specializing in communication and health. She works as a content coordinator for WebpageFX and is the founder of MarCom Land.