5 easy, holistic ways to reduce stress

Holistic, practical solutions to regain your inner balance

Stress knows no season, but it can really pile up during the winter holidays.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try these simple tips to take control of your own well-being.

1.  Meditate

Think you don’t have the time or discipline – or even a place in your home – to meditate?  Meditation doesn’t have to be a formal practice requiring hours of rigid sitting.  Just 5-10 minutes a day can begin to help you feel more grounded and peaceful, reducing stress. Get up just a bit earlier in the morning. Choose a quiet corner of your home, sit comfortably, and simply witness the natural movements and sensations of your breath. When your mind strays, return gently to your breathing. In time, you’ll find yourself able to apply this calm focus to many aspects of your daily life.

2.  Nurture with Nature

Fresh air does more than clear your mind.  It can change your view… literally. Getting in tune with the cycles and patterns of nature can help you gain better perspective on the pace and priorities of your own life. What’s more, just 15 minutes of sunshine a day can help your body rebuild its stores of vitamin D, which is easily depleted by stress but absolutely essential for immune functioning, cell growth, healthy bones, and good mood.

Can’t get outdoors?  Consider aromatherapy as a beautiful and therapeutic way to bring the benefits of nature into your life.

3.  Give a Little Love

Great… just one more thing to give, you might think. But offering simple gestures of affection can actually reduce stress for both receiver and giver. Snuggling with your kitty or giving a loved one a hug is easy to do, provides comfort, and gives your body’s natural relaxation response a big boost. Offering kindness to another can make you feel good about yourself and can help build your support system, too.

4.  Just Breathe

The next time you feel stressed out, pay attention to the way you’re breathing. Are you “chest breathing”, ignoring your belly, filling up only your lungs with air? If so, you’re actually suffocating! When the brain gets too little oxygen, it starts sending red alert signals to the rest of your body, leading to both physical and mental tension. To breathe properly, be sure to start by filling your abdomen. You’ll get more air, breathe more slowly and fully, and feel much calmer.

5.  Do a Reality Check

It’s easy to get stuck inside our heads, preoccupied with worries about the past or the future, feeling anxious and tense. Break the cycle! Ask yourself, “what’s really going on in this moment?” Tune in to your surroundings in the present moment and take time to fully experience and appreciate them – without judging them. Use all of your senses. For example, fully notice the fragrance and color of a beautiful flower. Focus on what’s happening right now, not what’s inside your head. This is called mindfulness, and it’s so effective that it’s used by professionals to help people recover from traumatic events.

 

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