Observe what’s actually happening. Just like a roadmap, we need to know where we actually are in this moment, before we can figure out a plan to get where we want to be. What are the sensations in our body (is our breath shallow & fast, is our heart racing, are our hands sweaty?) What are we feeling (are we frustrated, angry, nervous, excited, tense, etc.) What are we thinking (is our negative, critical voice taking over?) Often, when we’re stressed, we speed up, which can lead us to reacting, instead of responding in a powerful way, from our deep wisdom within. If we can pause, slow down, get back to our center, we can know what steps are needed for self-care.
Take at least 3 long, deep breaths. Our mind and moods are powered through our central nervous system, which is led by our breath. When we’re stressed, we usually start breathing shorter, shallower breaths. This brings in less oxygen to feed our brain, blood, and organs. It triggers the part of our central nervous system involved with the “fight or flight” response and releases stress hormones like adrenaline. As we take slow, deep breaths, we are activating the part of our central nervous system in charge of relaxation and renewal. We feel at ease.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise, dance, walk, do yoga. Movement releases natural endorphins (the “relax, be happy” chemicals in our brains). Research shows even daily walking can enhance your mood. Consider the food & nutrition you’re putting into your body, if you’re feeling stressed watch out for excess caffeine and sugar – try an herbal tea that has calming properties.
CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
We all need LOVE and support in our life. Identify who in your life encourages you, listens well, provides healthy guidance. Do something fun with your friends, volunteer and give back, join a group, visit a supportive counselor.
RELAX AND EXPAND YOUR POINT OF VIEW
Explore what activities help you feel ease, peace, a sense of wholeness. Connect with something that is bigger than you, that helps put our stresses in perspective. Connect with nature. Connect with spirituality – meditate, pray, go to church, temple, or the ocean. This can also help us feel more connected to each other, and have more compassion for ourselves, and others. For easily downloadable, free guided relaxations go to: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22 and/or http://www.mindfulrp.com/For-Clients.html
What are simple ways to treat yourself? Take a hot bubble bath, get an ice cream cone on a hot day, enjoy a sunset with someone you love. Light a beautiful aromatherapy candle. Cook a healthy meal with family. Take your dog to the park.