Despite all of the talk about how stressed out we are as an American culture, many people take this for granted, putting little effort into doing anything to change this. But chronic stress can wreak havoc on your physical, mental and emotional health, which is why you should incorporate the following three tips into your daily life to become more present and less stressed.
Introducing 3 Secrets to Stress Less and Be More Present
Take Time to Breathe Deeply & Intentionally
For most people, there is a big difference between their typical breathing pattern and breathing deeply. Common shallow breathing can perpetuate bodily stress, not using the full capacity of the lungs and diaphragm, according to Harvard Medical School. This can lead you to experience feelings of anxiety, high blood pressure and increased heart rate, as well as lower immunity to common illnesses.
By contrast, deep breathing allows you to utilize the full capacity of your lungs and diaphragm, encouraging the maximum oxygen intake and output of carbon dioxide.
To practice deep breathing, take a long, deep breath through your nose, allowing your belly to expand as you fill up your lungs to their fullest capacity. Hold it for a second or two before exhaling just as fully, through your mouth. Be mindful of the pace, being careful to breathe slowly and intentionally to enjoy the maximum benefits of this practice.
Find Your Grounding Element
Everyone has an environment that grounds them. For some, it’s being near the ocean or another body of water, while others prefer the arid expanse of the raw desert. Maybe for you it’s being in the forest dwarfed by tall trees, or high on a mountaintop taking in the view from above. It may be on an expanse of farmland, or perhaps you find peace in the din of the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Wherever it is that you find comfort and mental stillness, make it a point to get there often. Start or end your day in that environment whenever possible. Carve out a short break in the middle of your work day if you can or find a place close to your office that mimics your favorite grounding environment. For instance, if water calms you, eat lunch near the big fountain outside of your office building. If you find your inner zen in the garden among fresh flowers, make it a habit to order and keep a fresh bouquet of roses on your desk at work. Or find a park nearby where you can sit in the grass and enjoy a picnic in the sun.
By taking time to focus inward and offer yourself a chance to more thoroughly enjoy your environment, you can bring that positivity into the rest of your life, where it can further enrich your day.
If all else fails, when you are feeling frazzled and stretched too thin, go outside for a breath of fresh air and take a few minutes to study the sky. It may be that perfect shade of blue that soothes your hurried mind. Or perhaps it’s the way the sun is just barely breaking through the clouds overhead. Maybe you’ll notice an airplane passing by and find yourself imagining stories of the passengers inside and where they are headed. Or you may see a soaring bird, and suddenly notice other birds nearby singing a gently song.
This practice, known in some circles as sky gazing, is a form of meditation practiced by Tibetan Buddhists. Part of the beauty and power of it is that rather than trying to shut out the rest of the world, as many more traditional meditation practices do, the focus is instead on opening yourself up to the rest of the world.
It’s not about what you see, it’s the act of noticing these things that can have a calming effect on the mind. As you stare up at the sky in childlike wonder, it can instantly bring you back into the present moment, refreshing your perspective and recharging you to get back in the saddle and deal with whatever madness the day has dealt you.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally?Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
As a new mom, it took a lot for me to accept that I cannot do it all. Between taking care of my son, focusing on my relationship with my husband, exercise, cooking, cleaning, work and social commitments, it is impossible to focus on all.
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
My own resourcefulness and my family who are constantly inspiring me with new ways to use that trait.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
Becoming a mother. From the act of growing a tiny human to keeping myself as healthy as possible. And while doing it, having a serene and beautiful home birth. It was the most incredible experience and a real achievement in terms of personal growth as well. My next goal is more fitness focused. I want to run a marathon. I’ve completed a few half marathons before (and while pregnant), but I would like to get 26.2 miles under my belt.
4. Of course, we all have imperfections, or so we think. In truth, we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? Likewise, what imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
Impatience. As for my quirk, I strive to know as much as I can about anything that catches my interest. It gets time-consuming and can be unimportant — but it certainly makes for interesting conversation.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to appreciate and express all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU! In fact, sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!) Therefore, Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my people.