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Four Easy Stress-Soothers

Simple practices to feel calm amidst chaos

I’m a mom and a human, so I have my fair share of stress. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times. It’s not, however, healthy to be in a persistent state of tension. Fortunately, I’m also a yoga therapist who specializes in stress relief. Whether I’m just “having a moment” or under a mountain of pressure, I have a endless pool of resources to dip into. Here are four simple ways to shift from dis-ease to ease.

Breathing with intention.

If I’m feeling anxious, I pause to notice how I’m breathing, which is usually shallow, rapid, and mostly in my chest. Since that can perpetuate stress, I shift the pattern to a deep, slow, diaphragmatic breath. 

Try this by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Allow your inhale to gently expand your belly and ribcage; let your exhale extend a couple seconds longer than your inhale as your belly relaxes. Repeat.

Meditation in minutes.

When I wake up, the first thing I do is readjust in bed to a comfy sitting position. I again close my eyes and focus on my inhale and exhale anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes…the time often depends on my preschooler’s enthusiastic morning greeting. 

Even if you only have 1 minute to spare during the day, try a breath-based meditation. When your thoughts wander, and they will, bring your attention back to the breath.

Moving for fun.

We have a nightly dance party at our house, which occasionally involves a conga line segue into my son’s bedtime routine. It’s a great way to release stress from the day. With some good music and joyful movement, the smiles are unstoppable. 

Truly dance like no one’s watching. Put on your favorite tunes and let loose. Afterward, enjoy an interlude and notice with curiosity how you feel.

Being in nature.

To decompress from the pressures of everyday life, I go for a hike or walk outdoors. I choose a destination away from cars, streets, sidewalks, buildings, and crowds. Sometimes I go alone, other times with family or friends. 

Being in nature can quickly shift perspective and calm the senses. Find a park, arboretum, or trail where you can soak up therapy from the natural world.

Next time you’re stressed, try any one of these practices on for size. Yes, feeling overwhelmed is natural. With practice, experiencing ease will feel natural too.

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