5 Ways to De-Stress

Don’t have the luxury of time to escape to the spa for the weekend? Too busy to stop in for an acupuncture treatment? Here are 5 simple tools to de-stress.

 

1.     Breathe

Sounds simple right? It can be if you make it a habit.

Unbeknownst to many of us, we are only filling the top portion of our lungs when we take a breath. This is known as shallow breathing. By not allowing oxygen flow to the lower portion of our lungs, we are inhibiting our diaphragms range of motion. It also leaves us feeling short of breath or more anxious than usual.

HERE'S THE TRICK:

First, sit up straight and uncross your legs. Plant both feet evenly on the ground. Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to five. While filling up completely of air, avoid raising your shoulders, instead, expand your lower abdomen. This is known as “belly breathing”. When exhaling, exhale through the mouth slowly. Push out any air that was inhaled, creating a concave feeling in the abdomen. Repeat.

2.     Pause

There’s a reason for the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”.

This isn’t just for girls who like flowers. It’s no secret that modern day life can have most of us feeling like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch up to the Road Runner. Things that attribute to our stress, unfortunately we all must face. This includes driving in traffic, our work life, children (while adorable, still stressful), spouses (we all have those days), and even our simple daily tasks. When combined, this can get overwhelming, and not everything is always going to always go your way.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Take a moment. Enjoy the perfectly massaged kale salad you just took a bite of. Notice how nice the breeze feels on your skin. Look up from your phone and think about one thing you are grateful for. By being present and focusing on your senses, the extra tension you are holding will naturally drop.

3.     Meditate

Take the last two tips and combine them. This is, more or less, meditation. Meditation isn’t exactly shutting off our brain like many of us might think. It’s setting an intention to be present and in tune with our body. Rather than battling the thoughts that might naturally stream into your brain at first, let them flow and just watch them go by instead of reacting. Start with five minutes a day.

HERE'S HOW:

  • First, find a comfortable seating position (Not too comfortable! We don’t want this to be naptime)
  • Plant both feet evenly on the floor, and sit up straight. Imagine a string at the top of your head is pulling your spine up straight.  
  • Gently close your eyes
  •  Find any hidden tension you might be holding in your jaw, shoulders, or other places, and relax them
  • Place your tongue at the roof of your mouth
  • Now all you have to do is revert to your newly acquired skill of deep, slow, mindful breaths

4.     Essential Oils

Think of these as tiny bottles of magic aroma! Aside from the fact that they are so easy to keep on hand, the concentrated essential oils can have extremely powerful and positive effects on your body. When you inhale the aroma of the oil, the odor molecules travel directly to the limbic system in your brain. Your limbic system controls your mood and emotions. It’s also directly correlated to the parts of your brain that control heart rate, stress, breathing, memory and hormone balance. This is why certain smells can trigger emotional responses!

MindBodyGreen talks about which oils you can use specifically for stress reduction. My favorites are Lavender, Chamomile, Frankincense and Rose.

5.     Exercise

Our bodies are not designed to function well by sitting in a chair all day. If you haven’t gotten a workout in recently, this could be the cause of the extra stress you’re feeling.

WHY IS THIS?

Exercise not only keeps you in good physical shape, it keeps you in good mental shape. We all know that it can benefit your heart, and give you a more toned body. What most people lose sight of is the mood-booster quality physical activity has on us. When you work out, you release endorphins (happy hormones!) leaving you with a feeling of euphoria! Who wouldn’t want that?

 

Image from RealSimple