“Take time every day to sit quietly and breathe deeply…”
Today I want to share a few powerful techniques with you that I use to manage feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm that arise when life seems to get a little too full. The great part is that you can use these tools anywhere you are and it only takes a couple of minutes!
I grew up in the country on a beautiful farm in the Noosa Hinterland and I had a very peaceful and relaxed lifestyle. I spent a lot of time outdoors in nature with my family and we pretty much lived at the beach during summer holidays. Everything hummed along at a much slower and calmer pace and internally I felt very grounded.
When I moved to the city I absolutely hated it at first! Everything felt so chaotic and I noticed people rushing everywhere all of the time. I began to take on this frantic energy and it wasn’t long before I found myself moving through life at this fast pace too. I constantly felt stressed with a never ending to-do-list and often it all just seemed so overwhelming and I didn’t know how to cope.
Over the years I’ve embraced living in the city and I feel grateful for all of the exciting opportunities that it has to offer. Of course for me the dream is still to return to nature again but for now I still have to manage the daily hustle and bustle of the city life.
Maybe you’re thinking “Yep! I hear you girl” and you also can’t wait to escape the concrete jungle or maybe you truly love living in the city, either way I want to help you manage any feelings of stress that you might encounter in your daily life… no matter where you are!
What is stress?
Stress is our perception of our circumstances. Our body registers all stress in the same way, whether we’re running from real danger or feeling overwhelmed by work emails. When our body is under pressure (physically or emotionally) our “stress hormones” will kick in and trigger the “flight or fight” response. Now this is not always a bad thing, of course if we are in real danger we want this to kick in but unfortunately for many of us it doesn’t switch off and we are constantly living in a world of stress. Long term stress that is not addressed can lead to chronic fatigue or “burn out” and many other serious health problems too.
What causes stress?
There are so many factors in our daily life that can cause us to feel stressed. Stress can arise from a highly demanding work schedule, toxic relationships, financial strain, our lifestyle and environment or even the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves… daily! That’s just a few examples but really anything that puts a high demand on you can be stressful.
What does stress do to your body?
Stress has a very negative impact on your body, mind and behavior. Which is why it’s so important to listen to your body and it’s signals. Once you are aware of the symptoms of stress you have a much better chance of managing it!
Common physical effects from stress include:
Muscle tension or pain
Lack of energy
Change in sex drive
Common emotional effects from stress include:
Lack of motivation
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression
Common behavioral effects from stress include:
Disordered eating (overeating or undereating)
Drug or alcohol abuse
Exercising less often
How to manage stress…
The great news is that there are so many different techniques you can use to manage stress! My two absolute favorite tools that I personally use are mediation and breathing techniques.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that originated in India and has been used widely across China for thousands of years as well. There are a variety of meditations you can do and each one aims to take you into a deeper state of relaxation. You can choose to practice yoga, guided meditation, mantra meditation, qi gong, transcendental meditation or mindfulness meditation.
How to meditate…
You can practice meditation anywhere and it can be done alone or in a group environment, whatever feels most comfortable for you. It allows you to bring your attention to the present moment and quiet the mind. Usually meditation is practiced sitting cross-legged on a cushion with your eyes closed, hands gently resting on your knees with a nice straight back. Focus on the movement of your abdomen when breathing in and out or bring awareness to your breath as it passes through your nostrils.
What are breathing techniques?
When our body is sensing stress our breathing patterns change. Usually we start to take short shallow breaths causing feelings of anxiety which can then lead to hyperventilation. What we want is to trigger the “relaxation response” which will help to calm the nervous system. You can do this through breathing techniques which include equal breathing, alternate nostril breathing and abdominal breathing which is also known as “deep belly breathing”.
How to do breathing techniques…
Equal breathing – To begin, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four — all through the nose. Repeat this at least 20 times or until you start to feel a sense of calm.
Alternate nostril breathing – Start in a comfortable seated position, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb and exhaling through the left nostril. This will bring balance to your breath and activate both sides of your brain!
Deep belly breathing – Gently place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, filling your lungs with air and relaxing your belly then allow your belly to fall inward as you exhale through your mouth.
10 Benefits of Meditation & Breathing Techniques
So now you know how I stay on top of stress but just in case you want even more ideas, here’s a few additional suggestions for you!
My Top 10 Tips:
1. Start your day with a meditation, sitting in a calm and quiet environment.
2. Avoid caffeine (especially before going to sleep).
3. Take control – remember that you have power over your emotions.
4. Learn to priorities and manage your time effectively. Don’t take on too much – honour yourself
and know that it’s okay to say ‘No’.
5. Talk to someone and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. Exercise often to boost your mood and release feelings of tension.
7. Be organised and keep the environment around you clean and tidy.
8. Take 20 slow, deep breaths while lying down with your legs up against a wall before bed.
9. Consciously relax every part of your body and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
10. Remember to rest your body and mind!
If you can relate and also deal with feelings of anxiety or overwhelm from time to time, then please give these tips a try. I promise they work!
So gorgeous, if you have a girlfriend that you think really needs to read this article too, then please share it with her! I’m sure she will be grateful to learn about these helpful tools and hopefully it will bring a moment of calm to her day.
P.s – I’d love to see what techniques you try out, take a pic and tag me in it when you share your post on Facebook or Instagram! @kathryn.chandler #kathrynchandlerlifestyle