8 Natural Stress Relief Activities for SelfcareMar 19, 2020
We are ALL needing some coping skills right now.
For those times when our mind wander into the abyss of worry and what if's, when our tempers are just boiling under our skin and when the lack of control we feel overtakes us.
We need practical and tangible stress relief activities to implement in the moment and shift us back into the present.
Although engaging in self care techniques are essential to boosting your immunity they do not always help in the moment. When your emotions are ready to boil over or the thought train is in hyper drive.
This is where practical strategies like breathwork and grounding come into play.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork is simply any type of breathing exercise or technique. It is when you become aware of your breathing and take intentional breaths to assist in improving your mental, physical and spiritual well being. It helps to bring you back into your body, calm anxiety, promote relaxation and decrease stress.
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also called Earthing, is a practical way to bring yourself back to the present, physical reality and get out of your mind. It is a therapeutic technique which reconnects you to the earth – grounding you physically and energetically. Grounding focuses on tuning into the earths magnetic energy field and connecting it to your personal energy field.
Breathwork and Grounding take you a step deeper in your self-care practice. When you feel yourself going down the tunnel of never-ending thoughts, feeling numb and disconnected, grounding helps you to declutter your mind and better manage your emotions.
Breathwork for Beginners
We have all heard the importance of focusing on our breath to calm our anxiety.
But when our mind is going at light speed, this is so much easier said than done. So often we get to our second or third intentional breath only to be back in our minds without even realizing it.
Tips for Beginners
- Keep it simple. Just focus on bringing awareness to your deep intentional breaths.
- Breathe Naturally. There is no right or wrong way to breath. If you take 5 seconds, 8 seconds, 10 second inhales – it all works… use what feels natural to you. The key is to simply deepen your inhales and exhales – however many seconds is comfortable to you.
- Find a comfortable position. You do not have to be flexible or sit cross legged for this. You can use breathwork in any position be it sitting crossed legged, sitting on your couch, laying your bed, laying on the floor or standing in your kitchen as your kids are pulling at your leg.
- Do not get focused on the ‘right’ way of doing this. It is easy to get caught up in doing it "right". Right is what works for you and your life.
Find something square or rectangular to look at. Or visualize a box in your head. As you inhale follow one side of the box, as you exhale go down the next side. Inhale up the next side. Exhale down the next side. By actually focusing on a physical object you can keep you mind focused on your breathing versus wandering to the million of thoughts it wants to grab onto to.
Also known as breathing through your abdomen. Place one hand below your ribs on your belly and one hand on your chest. Inhale though your nose and allow your belly to push you hand out. Try to keep the hand on your chest from pushing out. Really focus on your belly pushing out and breathing deep through your abdomen.
Alternative Nostril Breathing
Clear your nose. Sit or lay in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths. Then close off your right nostril l with your fingers and inhale through your left. Switch your finger and then exhale out of your right nostril. Breathe back in your right nostril and exhale out your let nostril. Alternative nostril breathing is said to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. This technique is taken from pranayama yoga. For more information about this technique click here.
Heart Centered Breathing
Put your hand over year heart. Take and intentional deep breathe in while picturing the breath moving through your heart. Hold, then release the breathe, focusing on the air passing through your heart. Do this for 5-10 breaths. Once you feel your body calming begin to picture someone or something that brings you immense joy and love. Now take an additional 5-10 breathes sitting in a place of love and gratitude. This technique comes from HeartMath Institute and you can learn more about it here.
Grounding Techniques for Beginners
Another practical way to calm your energy and emotions is through grounding yourself. Grounding is a practical way to bring yourself back to the present physical reality and get out of your mind.
So often we can get caught up in the worry, anxiety and overwhelm of our minds that we forget about the present. By becoming more mindful of the present, of our physical bodies and sensations we can begin to shift out of the hamster wheel of worry and back into the present moment. Focusing on what we can and cannot control.
You can do this inside or outside. Either stand or sit with your feet on the floor. Begin breathing intentionally and focusing on your breath. Then begin to image you have roots growing out of your feet that are going deep into the core of the earth. With each inhale these roots grow deeper and stronger, connecting you back to Mother Earth. Really focus on the feeling of your feet and visually image being connected to earths core.
This involves direct contact with your skin to the earth. Depending on where you live, I know this is weather dependent. However, if you are able to have direct contact with Mother Nature - whether it be through your feet on the ground or simply reaching out and touching a tree, this process is very powerful to ground yourself. Connecting to the earths electromagnetic field, you are bringing its energy into you. Remember we are all just energy and by connecting with the earth you are conducting its energy through us. Taking intentional deep breathes as you plant your bare feet on the sand, on grass or as you place your hand on a tree. Inhale intentionally and focus on your breath as you picture the energy from this life coming into you. Bring awareness to the power of mother earth. Interested in learning more check out this great site here.
5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique
This is to bring your focus from your mind to your physical body. Look around and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear 2 things you can smell 1 thing you can taste. Finding that overwhelming? Just focus on 3 of each. 3 things you can see, you can feel you can hear you can smell and you can taste. The key is to bring awareness to your physical body to bring you out of your overthinking and anxiety.
In either a seated or laying down position do a mental scan of your body. Start with your toes, wiggle them, feel them, bring your awareness to them. Then slowly move up each leg, to you pelvis, your stomach, your arms, your fingers, your chest, your heart, your neck, your head. Again there is no right or wrong way of doing this. Mentally scan your body, and bring awareness to each part of it. Do what works for you.
When you are feeling as though your self care needs to go a level deeper, I encourage you to try these techniques.
So often the self care that is thrown at us in the media is simply a Band-Aid solution for deeper wounds. It is time we start re-defining what self-care looks like. It is time to start delving into holistic mental heath practices that create lasting change in our lives.
Let me know in the comments below if you found this to be helpful. Any tips you want to add?
Interested in learning more practical tips and strategies for your mental well being and personal development - check out these articles:
- 11 Ways to Declutter Your Mind
- 7 Simple Self-Care Tips to Ease Overwhlem
- 5 Facts Everyone Needs to Know About Personal Energy
- 16 epic Brené Brown quotes on strength and courage to Inspire You!
- 24 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in an Apartment
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