Mind and Body: Managing Stress and Anxiety Holistically
If you are finding yourself feeling a little more anxious than normal lately, know that you are NOT alone. It is completely okay to feel that way. It is human nature to feel a little off when things around us change - and they are changing quickly! Rest assured humans can adapt to change very well. Comfortably getting through these times will help keep your body and mind in shape.
How does stress work?
When we undergo stress, our bodies' sympathetic nervous system is activated. The sympathetic nervous system activates our ‘fight or flight’ mode, which can take a toll on our bodies when it is activated for long periods of time. When we are in the stressed-out sympathetic mode for too long, it can make us feel not so great. Opposite to the sympathetic nervous system is our parasympathetic nervous system. This system is also known as our ‘rest and digest’ system. Bringing ourselves out of a sympathetic state and into a parasympathetic state allows us to relax and calm down our bodies and our minds. If you are feeling more uneasy than usual lately, here are some neat ways to help bring your body into a more relaxed state.
There are some really cool breathing techniques you can use if you are ever feeling overwhelmed. My favourite deep breathing technique is called box breathing. This technique will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and leave you feeling a little more ‘zen’. Carrying this exercise out for even 1-2 minutes a day has been found to be beneficial and calming to the nervous system.
- Find a nice quiet space where you can sit or lay down comfortably for a few minutes.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for a count of four.
- Focus on breathing deep into your belly.
- Hold the breath for a count of four.
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
- Hold for a count of 4 before starting again.
MeditationThere is never a better time to start meditating. Meditation is something you get better at with practice, so if you are new to it, start slow and build up. Even 5 minutes a day can reduce overall stress and anxiety. If you need help getting started, check out some of the many apps that can help guide you through meditating:
- Insight Timer
- Head Space
You can also head over to YouTube and find lots of guided meditations.
MindfulnessMindfulness is the act of being completely present in the moment. Social media and especially the news can really take us to a place of negativity if we let ourselves get absorbed in it, which can be easy to do. Try turning off media and tuning into what really matters. This can help us avoid distractions and tune into things that are more uplifting. To make your days indoors feel more positive and relaxing, try doing some of these tips:
- Continue to connect with loved ones. Pick up the phone or Skype family and friends.
- Play some of your favourite tunes and dance in your kitchen.
- Take a warm, relaxing bath.
- Curl up with a good book and sip on a calming magnesium drink.