You know that taking care of yourself is non-negotiable, but trying to incorporate it among all of life’s demands can feel impossible.
While the modern medicine and technology breakthroughs have brought us fascinating discoveries, they have also introduced new levels of urgency and stress.
Now, instead of a large animal posing a threat and inducing a “fight or flight” response by stimulating our sympathetic nervous system, it is typically an endless string of non-life threatening, sometimes even trivial events, that cause stress. They can range from emails, traffic, finances, work or school deadlines, not having WiFi access when we need it, having to wait in line, and other inconveniences, that can trigger our “fight or flight” response.
From multitasking to seeking instant gratification, it is no surprise that a recent study conducted in 2015 by the American Psychological Association revealed that Millennials are the most stressed out generation.
As you dive into part 2 of this series (check out part 1 here if you are just joining us), I want to invite you to try these practical mind-body tools to improve the way you cope with stress.
These last 5 habits will provide easy, evidence-based ways to practice mind and body self-care. They will also create more space and energy for you to do the things you enjoy.
- Adopt a meditation practice.
Meditation is a powerful awareness exercise, allowing us to practice paying attention to the present moment, observe thoughts and emotions, and increasingly gain a fuller perspective of our mind, body and the environment around us. Set aside time to meditate daily, even if it is as little as 5 minutes. Research studies support meditation as a means of coping with stress, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain, as well as insomnia. I have found that regular meditation helps me gain more perspective, acquire more stillness and allows me to be a little less in my head. It also helps me make decisions with more clarity and confidence. Some of my favorite resources for meditation include the guided meditations on insightLA.org, Chopra Center 21 Day meditation, and the Headspace app.
- Connect with people. It is scientifically supported that people who have more friends and more people around them live longer! Surround yourself with loved ones, let them know they are loved, and ask them if they need anything. Not only will people receiving this love and attention appreciate the gesture, but you will be positively impacting your health, according to a study from Harvard. The same study notes that those who are socially isolated and have poor social networks have a shorter lifespan and are more likely to die of stroke, heart attack, accident or suicide, than those with high level social networks. Consider community involvement or joining a group (whether it be a group sport, a hiking or meditation group, or volunteer work). Social support enhances wellbeing, and a sense of community correlates with longer lifespan.
- Be in your “dharma”.In Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing, we often talk about “dharma”. This is one’s purpose. Think about what this is for you. The more you are living your dharma, the more aligned you are with your true self and the universe. This may sound like a cliché until you actually experience it. What is it that inspires you? What makes you tick and gets you excited about life? The more you are living your purpose, the more likely you are to meet people and make connections that are a part of that purpose and that will help you grow. Furthermore, you will be of service to others, because you will be doing something that is a passion and a calling, and you will give it 100%.
I first learned about self-massage, or abhyanga, during my time at the Chopra Center studying Ayurveda (a natural, consciousness-based system of healing from India, that dates back to 5000 years ago). There is something soothing and relaxing about this, and it is a great way to express gratitude and kindness towards yourself. It is also an excellent addition to your bedtime routine. All it takes is 5 minutes!
- Love Yourself. How does one make self-love a habit? It all begins with acceptance. Recognize the full length of your current situation and your history for what it is. Exchange judgment of your feelings and actions with self-compassion, giving yourself the same tender attention you would give a 3-year-old child. And keep practicing.I recommend practicing self-compassion guided meditation available at sharingmindfulness.com, and loving kindness meditation available at insightla.org.