You know what they say about stress: We can’t change what’s happening around us but we can change the way we react to it. During the holidays, it can feel like everything is moving at top speed. If you’ve ever found yourself trying to find time to catch your breath, you’re not alone. That’s the perfect time to stop, slow down and be in the moment. Try these three stress management practices to center yourself and lower stress.
1. WALKING MEDITATION
By walking slowly with awareness, two things happen: 1) We feel the ground beneath us and our connection to the earth; and 2) we find our connection to this very moment. Each step calls us to think of what’s happening right now instead of what’s ahead or what just happened. It’s a way to remember that now is where we are and now is all we have.
- Stand in a comfortable position. Unlock the knees and grab one wrist behind the back. Let the gaze drift downward without lowering the chin. Relax just as you are.
- With each slow conscious step, connect with the feeling of the earth beneath your feet, with the breath passing through the nostrils, with the feeling of the air on the skin.
- Let your mind and heart rest right here in this very moment.
- Walk for five to 10 minutes, then rest.
2. SEATED FORWARD BENDS
These allow us to fully surrender to the moment. When we sit still and let ourselves feel the support of the earth beneath us, we develop a sense of stability and safety. We can let go of the feelings that pull us into the ups and downs of life’s roller coaster. It’s a way to stay grounded and calm.
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Let your legs draw closer to the earth as if you are growing roots. Feel the earth support you. Relax knowing you feel supported and steady.
- Once you feel connected, reach your arms out and up. Then, lower yourself forward from the hips, sliding your hands down the legs to find that edge of comfort and discomfort.
- As you find your comfortable edge, deeply let go every time you exhale.
- As you breathe, let go of anything that’s stressing you physically, mentally and emotionally.
- After several breaths, slowly slide back up the legs and relax. Notice a sense of grounding and calm.
3. TWO-TO-ONE BREATHING
This breathing exercise relaxes your nervous system. It calms the mind and lowers your heart rate. When the mind is calm, the body settles.
- Lie down or sit comfortably.
- As you breathe, let the breath become long, slow and smooth. Begin to keep a gentle count when you inhale. Let the exhale extend longer.
- Over several breaths, your exhale becomes twice as long as your inhale. You can even imagine the exhale breath moving from top to toe.