Learning how to reduce stress can benefit all of us during times like these. It seems that a lot of us are encountering a new layer of stress as in North America we’re now six months in with the viral pandemic as we face ongoing additional forms of upheaval that keep us in a state of uncertainty. Focusing on how to reduce stress with myself and my clients has been a game changer during these difficult times. I’m sharing with you below some of the things that I’m still doing to try to stay balanced and that I’m teaching to the people I’m working with.
- Practice living in the moment. Practice focusing your attention on the present moment. Let go of ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Open to all that is right here, right now.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. Studies show that practicing mindfulness meditation results in increased feelings of peace and well-being, decreased stress, and increased attention, productivity, and creative thinking. Learn more about how to meditate here. Open to your true nature, which is to feel happy and at peace.
- Make time to grieve the loss and sorrow of living in such a difficult time. The losses are real. The struggles are real– pandemic, racism, homophobia, political upheaval, violence, climate crisis, natural disasters, and personal losses related and unrelated to these struggles. Practice making space to grieve by allowing the feelings without avoiding them or overindulging them. Learn how to be with grief in a balanced way. Open your heart to be present with your own grief.
- Focus on the good in your life. The brain has a negativity bias, but you can override this bias and encourage a positive mental state by pausing to notice what’s going well in your life. Limit your exposure to bad news. Find a way to stay informed but not overloaded. Take time each day to notice something beautiful in the simplicity of your every day—the way that a friend or loved one smiles, the way that your home is arranged, early morning birdsong, the color of a clear blue sky, the sound of rain. Open to the simple moments of joy.
- Nourish your resilient spirit. Spend some of your time in ways that nurture and energize you, focusing on what matters most to you. Research shows that dwelling on positive experiences for 10-20 seconds throughout the day can increase happiness and resilience.
- Engage in creative expression. We feel inspired by doing things that inspire us. And engaging in creative activities can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help to calm us down. Start small and simple. Try writing a paragraph, making a photograph with your iPhone, doodling, singing, dancing around the house, trying a new recipe. Allow yourself to be messy and imperfect and have fun! Open to the energy that creativity can inspire.
- Connect with nature. Get out in nature and engage your senses. Take in the brilliant colors of the sky or clouds through a window or by getting outdoors. Pause to notice the sound or smell of rain, the sound of the wind in the trees, the feel of the wind on your skin, the beautiful sight and smell of a flower, or exploring the ecology and wildlife in your own back yard. Open your heart and mind to a sense of beauty, wonder, and awe.
- Practice compassion. Treat yourself and others with kindness and an open heart. Let go of trying to be perfect. Open your heart to the love that awaits you.
- Connect with people. Connect with people who matter to you, people you can count on to share your joy and support you through life’s difficult moments, people who really get you and accept you for who you are. If you can’t connect in person right now, try to be open to connecting by phone or video. Open your heart to connection and belonging.
- Take action to support your wellbeing. Eat well, get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water, eliminate toxic chemicals from your home, and exercise regularly. Learn to recognize when you have committed to enough, and practice saying no. Schedule some time for being instead of always doing. Open to your best self, even in the worst of times.
I encourage you to try some of these suggestions for how to reduce stress. They can help to get your nervous system back into balance and help you to feel more like yourself again.
Let me know if you have topics you’d like for me to explore in upcoming posts. And I’m currently planning a few workshops, so if you have strong preferences for what you’d like to study with me, now is the time to let me know!
May we all dwell in the heart. May we all be free from suffering. May we all be happy. May we all be at peace.
Several of my photographs from the Ghost Trees II series are on exhibit now at Art in Bloom gallery in Wilmington, NC. If you’re local, I hope you’ll drop by the gallery to see them. If you’re non-local, you can check them out online. All images are for sale. Click here to see the images at Art in Bloom
I currently have openings for new clients for therapy or coaching. I offer therapy sessions by video for anyone in North Carolina. I offer video coaching sessions globally. My areas of speciality include stress reduction, grief and loss, illness, and trauma. Sessions are $150 for a 50-minute session. Email me or call 910-208-0518 to schedule an appointment.