I am not a huge fan of the “New Years Resolution”; however, I do appreciate the idea of reflecting on the past and setting intentions for the year to come. No matter what you may call it, if you set one intention for this year, reducing your stress levels is a great one to choose.
Stress is not called the “silent killer” for no reason. Stress and emotional imbalance is a leading cause of 99% of disorders including heart disease, arthritis, sleep disorders, eating disorders, weight gain, metabolic disorders, asthma, allergies, IBS, acid reflux and digestive issues. Stress has many different origins and will manifest in many different forms. Reducing the stress load in your life will increase your energy levels, enhance your mood, boost your immunity and lead you to a happier, healthier You. Begin to de-stress today by incorporating these 7 simple practices into your daily life.
1. Take a walk outside everyday.
Taking 20 minutes out of each day to step outside and go for a short walk is a great practice for reducing our stress and enhancing our mood. Getting out in the fresh air is healing all in itself, but taking some time to get the body moving each day has been clinically proven to reduce stress levels. We often go through our days on autopilot so taking a moment to calm the mind and reflect on your thoughts while walking is helpful as well. Find a time that works best for you and try to take a walk at the same time each day, as consistency is essential for effective, long-term results. Some ideal times are first thing in the morning, after a meal or mid-day while at work (especially if you have a desk job).
2. Take 5 minutes each morning to sit quietly.
Begin the morning by sitting in a comfortable, peaceful spot in your home where you can close your eyes, take some deep breaths and check in with your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Even when life is at its most chaotic moments, this simple practice will allow you to check in with yourself and begin each day in your center. Perform this practice everyday at the same time for the most powerful results. For an added bonus, try doing this 5 minute practice before bed too!
3. When stress gets high remember to JUST BREATH.
Whether at work, at school, in our car, in line at the store or even at home; we are constantly faced with situations that have potential for raising our stress levels. However, our fate is truly in our own hands and our reactions are what we make of it. The next time your boss is yelling at you or someone cuts you off on the road; take a step back from the situation, bring awareness to your thoughts and calm the mind by taking 10 deep breath into the lower belly. This may be a contrived practice to begin, but after you get habituated with this deep breathing exercise, each time you are faced with these feather-ruffling situations, you will find yourself naturally using this peaceful, healthy way of dealing with them. In fact, take this moment right now to begin! Inhale… Exhale…
4. Find organization in your environment.
If you feel stressed, overwhelmed and out-of-control; there is a good chance that your environment may reflect this. If we are able to keep a clean, organized home and work place, this is a great first step for creating a calm, organized mind. De-cluttering your space is a profound way to de-clutter the mind and an organized mind is much better at taking in stressful situations with grace and ease.
5. Find organization in your daily routine.
Having a daily schedule is so necessary for our health and wellbeing. Our body and mind craves consistency to regulate our hormones, digestive systems, emotions and energy levels. To begin, simply set a routine time for going to bed, waking up and eating each meal. Here is an general example of a healthy routine:
6. Take a warm bath twice each week before bed.
This simple, nourishing practice is a lifesaver in terms of reducing stress levels and calming the mind. Every week take 2 nights out for some self-care and take a warm bath. Adding essential oils such as lavender, rose, tulsi or rosemary will enhance the calming properties even further. Feel free to add epson salt or a ginger and baking soda blend, which will also enhance the healing, stress relieving benefits. If you do not have a bath tub in your home, try finding a hot tub, sauna or steam room in your area and use this at least 2 times each week as well.
7. Rub warm oil on your feet, forehead and scalp each night before bed.
Taking a few minutes before bed each night to massage some oil onto the feet, forehead and scalp is a powerful practice for reducing the days built-up stress and bringing the energy down for the night. Begin by warming a small amount of Vata Massga Oil or another herb-infused massage oil in a small pan (use sesame oil if you do not have these options). Take a small amount into the palm and begin by massaging the forehead, face, neck and around the ears. If you are going to wash the hair the next day, apply some oil to the scalp and massage thoroughly. Once done with the head, move down to the feet and allow a few minutes to deeply massage each foot. After this, I suggest putting on an old pair of sock while the oil absorbs. This only takes a few minutes so feel free to take them off before bed. If you have time and would like to do a full body self-oil massage, click here for full instructions.
So there you go! If this is too much to change overnight, pick your top 3 choices to begin and add another each week. This gentle approach will be a bit less invasive and tends to be accomplished with better, long-lasting results. Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives; it is our reaction to it that makes the difference!
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