With small changes, coping with stress is easier than you think
I believe that almost everyone in Bermuda experiences stress – when we see our bill in the grocery store, when we ask the price of something we need for our homes, or go out for a meal in a favourite restaurant.
If we can afford to travel, we are shocked by airfares and hotel prices abroad. We can’t escape it. It is our new reality.
We feel powerless and often fearful. This creates stress and this stress is damaging to our health and happiness.
What can we do?
What can we change right now to ease stress and feel better, stronger, and more confident?
Much of my work involves teaching people how to focus and direct their energy to achieve a state of calm relaxation. There is no room for stress in this state of mind and body.
Coping with stress is easier than you think. What you need to get started is to implement small changes in your everyday routine; this could take only a few minutes each day.
The key is consistency; do it every day, like brushing your teeth. Soon, it will become a habit, and the good news is that habits that make you feel better are easy to acquire.
How you start the day is important; it sets the tone for hours to come.
When you begin your morning, consciously decide to make it a more stress-free experience. During this time you eliminate all MSDs (micro stress doses).
MSDs are something small (messages on your phone, negative news, tense words with your close ones) that are not essential to preparing for your day.
These negative distractions build up, one after another, so by the time you leave your house, you may have experienced ten or 20 MSDs.
Get rid of them! Don’t let your mind direct you on to a treadmill of worry!
To start, try putting calming music on your phone alarm to wake you up.
Then after you turn it off, don’t look at it again. Lie in bed for a few moments.
Breathe deeply and stretch all over. Spend the first moments of your day thinking about something you will enjoy doing this week. Smile.
Don’t jump right into the laundry list of work chores that may lay ahead.
Keep the phone as unused as possible. Get your balance and say something nice or loving to your significant other; hug your children. If you live alone, compliment yourself.
Then start your day in earnest.
At some point during the day, give yourself BBs. These are “breathing breaks”.
You can start with only a few minutes each time. If you feel particularly tense do slow, deep breaths. You can continue working if you have to, just concentrate your attention on your breath.
Breathe in slowly through your nose and deeply into your belly. Imagine a balloon expanding. On exhalation, contract your belly and breathe out naturally through your nose. Your breaths are slow, deep and gentle. Enjoy the rhythm of it all.
You can use BBs throughout the day whenever you wish to calm yourself. It might take only a few minutes, but if it becomes a habit. By the end of the day it might add up to breathing deeply for as long as an hour.
Studies have shown that most people breathe six times faster than they should. We are used to doing quick, shallow breaths.
Slow, deep breathing calms the mind; it can reduce anxiety and sometimes even lower your blood pressure a bit. Don’t overdo it. Just a few minutes at a time is fine.
To enjoy life we must relax. To relax often takes a choice on our part to feel better and there are many techniques that help. Start with these simple ones, but most importantly … start!
Choose relaxation and happiness, and you will find it waiting patiently inside your heart.
Nina London is a certified wellness coach, Qigong teacher and laughter leader. Her mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Contact her at www.ninalondon.com and on Instagram: @coachninalondon