Take a Deep Breath, and a Step Back, With These Tried and True Techniques
By Amanda Garrigus
You ever feel like it’s just too much? Like maybe all the world’s troubles are weighing a little too heavily on your psyche and your soul? Well, you’re not alone. You don’t have to look too far to be confronted by a whole lotta crazy. Whether it’s the divisiveness in our politics, conflicts overseas, racial and economic injustices at home, or personal responsibilities at work and in our relationships, a person can get to feeling overwhelmed pretty quickly. I mean, these days it doesn’t take much to get the tears flowing. Am I right?
So what to do? Well, first, take action. Figure out where the sorest spots are and do something to move the needle in a positive direction. Donate your time, your money, your brain power so that you begin to feel less defeated and more empowered. Then, take a load off. We all need time to rest and recharge. Sure, it can feel like a luxury to sit down and do nothing but take care of yourself, and it is, but, it’s a luxury we all need. Relaxing and resetting give us the recharge we need to stand up and lean in another day. Here are some tried and true strategies to calm your anxieties, and ground your body, mind and spirit for a healthier, happier you.
- Move your body. Run, stretch, dance, shoot some hoops, do whatever you love that gets your blood pumping. I know it doesn’t sound relaxing, but once you’ve spent some of that anxious energy, you’ll feel better able to settle into the more traditional relaxation techniques that follow.
- Take a long shower, or a bath, just be in warm water for a while. I’m not big on baths, but every relaxation article I read seems to think I’d be happy sitting in one. I’ve tried. It’s not my thing. But if it’s yours, then light those candles, get the bubbles going and sink in. If you’re more of a shower person like me, then indulge in a long one. The point is, warm water is a panacea, get into it.
- Eat your favorite foods (in moderation… or not… know yourself on this one). I’ll admit, this one is a little off the beaten path, but seriously, if you love chocolate croissants more than life, but you never let yourself eat them because, duh, then you need to treat yourself every now and then. I’m not suggesting that you comfort eat your way through every crisis, I’m just saying you should indulge on occasion because if you’re a woke individual living in this crazy world, you deserve it.
- Read a book, ideally one printed on paper. Technology is great, but in measured doses. I think it’s fair to say that most of us are glued to our phones or computer screens more than ever before in human history. What between tweets and Instagrams, emails and Netflix, there’s almost no reason not to be glued to a screen. Except there is. Studies show that looking at our phones right before bed has a measurable, negative impact on the sleep that follows. I for one have my wackiest dreams on nights when I use my Instagram feed as a bedtime story. But when I pick up a novel, on paper, and meditatively flip those pages while reading along, one non-illuminated word at a time, my zzz’s are peaceful and restful, and yours can be too.
- Meditate. Never done it before? No problem. There are many amazing apps out there that offer effective and addictive guided meditations. I like Headspace (https://www.headspace.com), my bestie likes Calm (https://www.calm.com). More and more individuals, schools and workplaces are recognizing the power of this thing we call mindfulness. Slow down, reconnect with your breath, reconsider your unhelpful patterns of thought, or just listen to someone with a great voice talk to you about lovely, inspiring things. Just sitting like this for five, ten or fifteen minutes can have a whole host of amazing benefits, from lower blood pressure to just plain better spirits. Namaste.