When you notice your body and brain are no longer cooperating and you are looking blankly at a blank screen … What do you do?
When you notice that your mind is full of thoughts that jump from re-visiting the past and becoming anxious about the future … What do you do?
When you find yourself getting triggered easily and lashing out at others … what do you do?
Most of us have coping strategies that have become habits over time. These become our “go to” behaviors to deal with stress.
I know a number of people who will keep going, and push through. Telling themselves this is what is needed and there is no choice. Until they start to become ill and chronically fatigued from stress.
The following tips are inspired by the restorative yoga classes I teach, and my own ways to unwind and de-stress. They work, whether you need a time out at work, or a break from conflicting emotions, or are just plain exhausted.
When we are drained and depleted we disconnect from our inner sense of being. We are so much in our heads we have lost connection with our body and spirit. The key to bring this connection back is to use our breath to come back to our body and ourselves.
Mini Mindful Moments like these are quick and simple. Pharmaceutical companies and purveyors of alcohol might deliver a different message at this point, but these tips are inspired by yoga. They are free and don’t take much time!
1. Let out a big sigh! As soon as you notice you are stressed and tense, there is something ready to be released. Very often I don’t realize how tense I am until I sigh. Its has an immediate affect. Take a big breath in through the nose and let it out with a sigh. Take as many as feels good to you, and let the weight fall off those shoulders.
2. Take several deep breaths, allowing yourself to feel fresh energy entering your body and stale energy being released. “I renew with each inhale. I release with each inhale.” If you can, try adding some movement with your breath by moving your arms out and up on the inhale and then down on the exhale.
3. Close your eyes and focus on your body. Scan parts of your body in your mind. Notice where there is contraction and some tension. As you notice it, imagine sending your breath there and let the area soften. Breathe into each tense area and be mindful of the relaxation taking place.
4. Stretch. Standing tall reach for the sky and come on to your toes. Breath fully all the way into your belly. Release your heels back down on an exhale and repeat as often as it feels good.
5. Place both hands just above your heart. This stimulates a mammalian parent response, and brings comfort. Soften the tops of your shoulders and let your belly become soft. Breathe into the warmth around your heart. Feel the soothing nature of this compassionate touch.
6. Put your feet up – literally. Try moving to a wall and then raising your legs and resting them on the wall. Make yourself comfortable with a pillow under your neck. You can also lie on the floor and bring your legs over a chair and rest there.
7. Smell a favorite smell. It can be useful to carry an essential oil or scent with you. Experiment with a citrus scent, lavender, or mint to see what feels most refreshing.
8. Dim the lights and light a candle. Gives your eyes a rest from the screen or wherever you’ve been focusing. Let the soft light and flicker soothe you.
9. Lie down in a gentle back bend, with a pillow under your back and a blanket or pillow supporting your head. Allow your shoulders to relax. Feel your ribs and the space around your heart gently opening as you inhale and relax as you exhale. Rest here for several breaths.
10. Feel the ground. Take your shoes off. Notice the four corners of each foot and then wiggle your toes for a moment. Notice how your feet are making contact with the ground and imagine sending down roots through the soles of your feet and deep into the earth. As you inhale, imagine drawing up strength and nourishment through these roots and into your whole body.
I hope you enjoy these mindful moments to nourish and replenish.