We are living in some very unsettling and changing times right now. We are all learning a new way of living, adjusting to the changes and fears brought on by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 causing high anxiety and stress for many.
Anxiety is a very unsettling emotion. Sometimes it can feel like a constant low level stress that never seems to go away and other times it can be more acute, overcoming you and leaving you feeling debilitated, scared and maybe even frustrated. When we find relief it is so welcoming!
Here are 5 simple tips to reduce stress and anxiety and help you feel more balanced, empowered and reconnected to your heart-center.
One of the deep breathing techniques that I find very relaxing and calming is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise by Dr. Andrew Weil, passed onto to me by Dr. Elson Haas several years ago in his Spring Cleanse Detox course. This technique is very simple and can be done absolutely anywhere,any time you feel anxious or stressed.
Inhale through your nose for a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound as you breathe out to the mental count of eight.
Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
4-7-8 Deep Breathing Photo by Engin Akyurt.
Aromatherapy can bring tranquil feelings of calm and relaxation as though it was speaking directly to your heart. If you have ever experienced, smelling a scent that brought back a memory then you know how quickly and naturally the effects of scent can have.
There is a lot of research done on essential oils and aromatherapy and a wealth of studies have shown how some essential oils can calm the nervous system and help one to feel relaxed.
Essential oils with higher percentages of the natural components linalol (also spelled linalool) or linalyl acetate have been found to be very effective in bringing about a calm and relaxed state in acute situations of anxiety such as an anxiety attack as well as in providing continual ongoing support to your nervous system even when you are not feeling anxious when you use them more often.
Some of my favorite essential oils high in linalol and linalyl acetate are lavender, bergamot mint, and neroli-petitgrain.
A common way to use essential oils is placing a few drops of essential oils in a diffuser (always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use) and letting it diffuse throughout your whole room.
Other common ways to use essential oils is using an essential oil blend such as a roll on, placing a few drops in your bath water or shower, and placing a few drops on a cotton ball and breathing in the aroma.
Placing a few drops of lavender on a cotton ball and putting it by your bed before sleep will not only help you relax so you can fall asleep easier, it can also help to boost your immune system.
Aromatherapy Photo credit to Elly Fairytale
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Hundreds of research studies from around the globe have shown the profound benefits of meditation.
Meditation is simple, easy to do and can be practiced anywhere, at any time. It can wipe away stress whenever you need it the most bringing you a sense of inner peace and calm, help you gain a new perspective on things, and connect you closer to your heart, soul, spirit, and Divinity to name just a few.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis for even a few minutes a day offers you continual support in maintaining your overall wellbeing as it affects all aspects of your being; brain, mood, mental performance, body, health, spirit, relationships, and aging and can even help generate peace in society.
There are many types of meditation. Two of my favorites are guided meditations and yoga. Guided meditations are a form of mental visualization guiding you through a journey of relaxing imagery with or without soothing music. Yoga uses a series of postures and controlled breathing to promote a flexible body and a calm mind. Other forms of meditation include silent meditation, mantra meditation (repeating a calming word silently in your mind), mindfulness or consciousness meditation , Qi gong and Tai chi.
YouTube has many guided meditations to choose from or you can visit Project Noosphere, a global meditation community founded by Dr. Paul Drouin (also the founder and President of Quantum University) to set your intention of healing and practice your daily meditation connecting to the Noosphere and others from around the globe sharing and holding that intent of healing with you.
For an acute bout of anxiety, this simple mediation practice can be calming and relaxing and easily remembered.
Start by taking 3 nice deep breaths in through your nose and letting them out through your mouth with a nice big sigh, “ahhhhhh.”
As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing in calm and tranquility and breathing out stress and anxiety on the exhale.
Then imagine a big beautiful beam of white iridescent light (or color of your choice) shining down on you, washing over you like rain, starting at the crown of your head and flowing in and all-around your body and out through feet, washing away all your anxiety and stress. And as it does you notice, roots growing out of the soles of you, that stretch and grow all the way down to the center of the Earth. You see a big ball of warm, glowing iridescent light shining up through the Earth’s center. You draw this light up through your roots, up through the soles of your feet, through your body (and chakras) and out through the crown of your head, washing back down around you and anchoring you into a sense of peace and tranquility.
Meditation Photo credit: Leninscape
Writing is another great way to relieve stress and anxiety. It clears and releases your worries, fears, stress, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and emotions from the emotional and mental realms and gives them physical form freeing up precious space in your head. Getting your thoughts and ideas down onto paper also alleviates the stress of losing your thoughts in an overcrowded mind.
Studies have shown that expressive writing is not only therapeutic but is also linked to happiness. Writing by hand also helps you feel more connected to the present moment.
Dedicate a special journal for your writing, creating a sacred space for yourself to record your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Start by dating the page and then write down what you are feeling. This is also a great way to track cycles, patterns, and trends.
Another expressive form of writing, is free flow writing. Just start writing and keep writing without thinking, allowing whatever needs to be expressed flow right onto the paper. You may want to add a section somewhere in your journal or create another journal to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for each day.
Journaling helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Art has been existence since the beginning of time and if you think back to Ancient times art was used in the form of hieroglyphics as a way of writing and communicating. You don’t have to consider yourself to be an artist to create art as long as you are creating you are an artist. Art is simply using line, shape, color, value, texture, form, and space to express and communicate oneself.
Art is often used as therapy in a variety of settings such as private and group counseling, hospitals, wellness centers, correctional institutions, senior centers, and other community organizations and has proven to have many therapeutic and healing benefits including relieving stress and anxiety.
Creating art is not only healing for the mind and spirit but also for the body since all are interconnected. It works on multiple levels to not only relax and calm the mind but also to restore and rejuvenate, bringing joy and increasing your energy and enthusiasm for life.
A page from my Cosmic Smash Book using art to express and process emotions of my grieving process.
I hope these 5 simple tips to reduce stress and anxiety offer you support when you need it and bring you a sense of balance, leaving you truly connected to your heart-center and your own inner peace and strength.