In this post, K.T. Wilson is a health and wellness in Harford County, MD provides you with some actionable relaxtions techniques to help you reduce stress & anxienty. Enjoy!
Eating with intention and infusing your routine with fitness has you feeling uber energized and empowered, yet you still can’t seem to shake those nagging bouts of anxiety.
Everyone knows that regular exercise and a nutrient-rich diet can positively impact mind and mood, so what gives? Shouldn’t the waves of stress be rolling out with the tide now that you are purifying your refrigerator and getting to the gym?
No one can argue that food and movement are crucial components of the wellness equation, but there are more than two dots on the map to balanced and complete health.
Attain Peak Performance Through Balance
A strong and properly fed body (a.k.a. a solid physical self) is an amazing asset; but if you aren’t spending an equal amount of time fueling and training your mind (a.k.a. your mental self) and your heart (a.k.a. your emotional self), that lack of balanced attention to these other powerful tools will prevent you from reaching peak performance.
Just as the science-backed CrossFit philosophy attributes its high success rate to the conditioning and strengthening of the body as a whole, today’s wellness data indicates that operating at pinnacle life capacity is achieved through the conditioning and strengthening of the self as a whole.
When people give equal levels of care and nourishment to their minds, bodies, and spirits, their stress and anxiety levels decrease.
Are you ready to level up and consciously begin to dial down the impact that stress and worry have on your life? The following 4 dynamic warm-ups will provide the basic equipment!
Step Out of the Box with Nature Infusion Drills
Simply stepping outside of the “boxes” we live in – our homes, our gyms, our cars, our offices, our over-taxed and loud minds – can induce a measurable sense of calm in a matter of minutes. Science is proving that nature heals and restores us.
Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, has found that within 5 minutes of being outside, the heartrate slows, the muscles start to relax.
Regions of the brain involved in decision-making and emotions shift from boil to simmer.
Research indicates that being in nature for just 5 hours/per month can make a person happier overall, and that regular trips outside can improve immune function, and reduce stress, hostility, and depression.
Mother nature is an underutilized resource in the management of the stress and anxiety. In nature we witness cycles, seasons, and phenomena that remind us of our natural rhythm; and the effects can be calming and reassuring.
Witnessing the vastness of an ocean or a lake or taking in the immenseness of a night sky full of stars or a forest dense with towering trees can offer us an encouraging view into the expansiveness and spaciousness of the universe (excellent counterpoints to the perception of limitation and restriction that we all too often let our life circumstances create within us).
Doses of nature can enliven our senses and act as the perfect antidote for the dulling and numbing that over-exposure to screens, monitors, and unnatural lighting can cause. It can also inspire us to tap into our raw creativity, enabling us to come up with out-of-the-box insights and solutions that can help us remove sources of stress and anxiety.
How can you begin to infuse nature into your wellness work-out?
- Take weekly or monthly hikes, in all seasons (evenings and weekends are ideal for longer excursions)
- Go on daily walks (length is no matter, a 5-minute stroll will do wonders to clear the mind)
- Spend time on a patio or porch (heck, just stand in your office parking lot if you have no other way to break away and breathe some fresh air)
- Open a window and gaze outside for a few minutes (crack the window, even in colder weather, just for a few moments….the feel of the air and the out-door sounds will hep you switch mental gears and avoid the stagnation that can lead to heightened stress)
- Notice nature on your routine commutes (even on a highway, you can see birds flying)
- Can’t get outside or make it to a window today? Internet to the rescue! Listen to nature sounds or meditation music that integrates nature sounds (YouTube is filled with options, and there are a handful of great apps you can download as well)
Being in nature helps us to get out of our heads (which we know can be pretty scary places at times). It interrupts our anxious thought patterns and literally snaps us back down to earth, our home base that has the magical ability to ground and root us in the present moment. Worries and pressures have a way of melting away when we are not ruminating about the past or the future.
Breathing Bootcamp (As Many Reps As Possible): Build Mindful Pauses into Your Day
We don’t always have the ability to step away and take ourselves on nature retreats or even brief walks, but we do always have the ability to exercise the power of NOW. One quick and easy way to do this is to incorporate breathing breaks and restorative pauses into your daily routine.
At any given time in the day, we can decide to pause wherever we are, close our eyes, breathe deeply, and intentionally get in touch with the present moment. By doing this, we enable our inner coach to pull us off of those stress ledges through the conscious slowing of our breath and body.
How can you warm up to the art of taking mindfulness breaks?
- Make appointments with yourself to breathe/pause at least 3 times throughout the day
- Set alarms to remind you! This is one of those rare times when all of those cyber devices can actually be more of a help than a hinderance. There is no shame in using bells and whistles to prompt you to live well. Eventually external cues will no longer be needed.
- Spice things up by integrating some visualization. Feeling good is the direct path to uplifting your vibration and attracting good experiences to yourself, so if picturing yourself in another place and time makes you feel happy and calm, then go ahead and use that brilliant imagination to escape! These temporary respites will energize you and allow you to be more present and grounded when you are ready to return to the moment and circumstance at hand. Just as vacations restore us and bring us back to our daily routines refreshed and motivated, mini visualization retreats can offer the tiny doses of relaxation that we require to keep us centered and in our daily flow.
- Need some guidance when it comes to breathing and visualization techniques? Mindful.org is an amazing resource! Try these great breathing tips or explore this starter meditation/guided visualization.
Maximize Performance with the Power of Play
Did you know that a person can find rest in action? While relaxation can undoubtedly be achieved through stillness and quiet, it can also organically arise from playful activity.
Research tells us that adults are seriously starving for playtime. Talk about a diet that no one should ever go on!
Regular doses of play and fun are a necessity, not a luxury. We can be easily tricked into believing that we don’t have the time, money, or energy to invest in playfulness; but the truth is that we can’t afford not to have a little fun on a routine basis.
Play helps us bring REAL balance to the more serious aspects of ourselves and our lives. It is a way we can let go of some of the heaviness. When we have fun and laugh, we relax.
When we relax, ideas, insights, and positive energy all increase and flow more easily.
- Define what play looks like for you. Take some time to reflect on this and form a list of activities that make you feel (or could make you feel) carefree, light, and playful. Begin by scheduling at least one of these each week.
- Identify the people with whom you have the most fun. Make more dates with them! While you are at it, create some distance from the folks who tend to drain the fun out of everything.
- What makes you laugh loud and hard? Make a list and incorporate more of these humor catalysts into your daily and weekly routines. The anxiety-reducing element of laughter has been studied and proven – if you need convincing, start here!
Thought Sculpting: Changing Your Go-to Script
“The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.” ~ Deepak Chopra
All feelings are generated by thoughts. We pick our thoughts, and we always have the choice to change them. Everything we give attention to grows. Our minds are so creative and powerful that we can call stress to our side simply by thinking a thought about a stressful event that hasn’t even happened yet!
Consciously shifting our thoughts & changing up our vocabulary can derail the negative cycle that stress-inducing circumstances typically spark.
Practice being a 3rd party observer to your thought process and take the controls to dial down the stress and worry.
- Look at your thoughts with objectivity and even mild amusement, as if you are a scientist simply observing and noting behaviors (be curious and nonjudgmental). Note or record what you see, as revealing patterns will eventually emerge.
- Practice revising your narrative. For example, replace “I don’t deserve time for myself,” with, “I am noticing that I am thinking I don’t deserve this time.” Changing the words to describe our experience can allow us to practice healthy non-attachment, which allows us to remain involved and engaged, but not consumed by our thoughts and emotions.
- Start to draft and apply new and more neutral labels and descriptors for your experiences and reactions/feelings. Throw out the good/bad, happy/sad, right/wrong language, and aim to use words that put a more positive growth-oriented spin on situations.
Creativity + Intensity + Pace = Power
There are no rules or limits around tapping into your creative power and building a more peaceful reality. You can control the worry and pressure.
Just as stasis is the enemy when it comes to achieving maximum physical results from exercise, stagnation is the enemy when it comes to finding sources of relaxation and peace. The trick is to keep moving and to equip yourself with a diverse bag of tools.
Achieving REAL balanced wellness is not a sprint, but rather a process. Be targeted and consistent. Incorporate these new techniques with intensity and vigor. Remember that simple and paced implementation is key. Don’t overcomplicate matters or exhaust yourself early on by demanding overnight progress.
Give yourself permission to bring mind and heart into the equation.
You’ve got this! Game on.
K.T. Wilson is a health and wellness blogger dedicated to helping people discover and harness their personal power to create balanced lives of joy and ease. She resides in Harford County, MD, with her husband and two daughters, and is currently writing a book on the benefits of REAL living. You can learn more about K.T. and her upcoming events @ https://www.kt-wilson.com/