5 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

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.

Deep Breathing

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

4-7-8 Deep Breathing Photo by Engin Akyurt.

 

Aromatherapy

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

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, mind 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 mediations and yoga. Guided mediations 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. 

You Tube 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 

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 your are grateful for each day.  

Journaling helps relief stress and anxiety.

Art

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. 

The Root Chakra

          The Root Chakra

We began this blog series, with an introduction to The Seven Chakras and Chakra Medicine. Here I will began to go into further depth of each of the seven  main chakras in individual blog posts starting with the Root (Muladhara) Chakra. Muladhara in Sanskrit means “root and basis of existence”.  

The Root Chakra, also known as the Base Chakra, is the first chakra of the seven chakra system located at the base of the spine, between the coccyx and pelvic bone. It is about four inches in diameter and when in good health spirals down between your legs grounding you into the core of the Earth. It spins at the color frequency of red and governs the lower limbs of the body, hips, and the skeleton. 

In her book, the 7 Healing Chakras, Brenda Davies, M.D, writes, “the root chakra is activated immediately after the moment of incarnation, at birth. It’s maximal rate of development is during the first few months of life, though focus on the root chakra continues until the age of three. Though development of the whole system continues throughout life…”

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The Seven Chakras and Chakra Medicine

The Seven Chakras and Chakra Medicine

 Chakra comes from the Sanskrit word, meaning wheel.  The  Chakras according to Rupert Sheldrake, whose work is referenced in the book Quantum Doctor (2011) by Amit Goswami PhD “… are those places in the physical body where consciousness simultaneously collapses the vital [body] and the physical [body] in the process of which representation of the former is made in the latter.”   Chakras are energy centers that represent our vital body or as Dr. Paul Drouin, M.D explains in his book Creative Integrative Medicine” (2014) “…Chakras, like meridians are nonlocal and are another dimensional layer of information associated with these locations.” 

To most, chakras can’t be seen with the human eye but rather felt. One of my first experiences with this was during a class I was attending at a local healing center. The class participants were asked to rub their hands together and visualize a ball of energy in the center of our hands in between our palms as we slowly pulled our hands away from each other and back towards each other again and played with the energy created. 

“Feelings  are the experience of the chakras vital energy, the movement of your morphogenetic fields” ~ Dr Amit Goswami

The Chakra System

The chakra system originated in India, somewhere between 1500 BC and 500 BC.  Although Taoist and Chinese medicine traditions have brought us the knowledge of meridians,  it was the Ayurvedic tradition that brought us the knowledge of nadis, channels of flow of vital energy (prana).

There are seven main chakras that run along the spine up through to the crown of your head . Each of these seven chakras is associated with one or more of the specific organs in the human body as well as the physical, emotional, psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being that effect all aspects of your life.   Chakras are numbered from the base up although have been given different names from different schools of medicine which can cause some confusion to some. Some names are associated with their location and others with their function. Below, I will use the names I learned associated with each chakra through my Usui Reiki I training and have included the Sanskrit name beside it in parenthesis. 

 

The Seven Charkas

 Chakra 1~ the Root (Muladhara) Chakra 

The Root Chakra is located at the base of the spine, between the coccyx and pelvic bone. It is associated with the color red, and our survival mechanisms, standing up for yourself, financial independence and security.

Chakra 2 ~ the Sacral (Svadhishthana) Chakra

The sacral chakra is located in the lower abdomen just below the naval. it is associated with the color orange, and our feelings, creativity, ability to be social, pleasure, sexuality and well-being.

Chakra 3 ~ Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra

The solar plexus chakra is located in the upper abdomen just above your navel. It is associated with the color yellow and our personal power, self-confidence, self-control, humor and intellect.

Chakra 4 ~ Heart (Anahata) Chakra

The heart chakra  is located in the center of the chest, above the heart. “This is sometimes referred to as a transitional chakra since the lower three are concerned with the physical and emotional and now we begin to move toward the spiritual. The heart bridges the two realms and is the center for human love.” (Davies,M.D., 50).  It is associated with the color green and our ability to love, joy, and inner peace.

Chakra 5 ~ Throat (Vishudda) Chakra

The throat chakra is located as the name suggests at the throat. It is associated with the color blue, communication, relationships, trust and loyalty. 

Chakra 6 ~ Third (Anja) Eye 

The third eye also known as the brow chakra is located in the middle of the forehead, between the eyes. It is associated with the color indigo, and our intuition, imagination, ability to make decisions, and our psychic abilities. 

Chakra 7 ~ Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra

The crown chakra is located at the top of the head. It is associated with the color violet and our ability to connect spiritually, knowingness, spirituality and our connection to our God Source and Consciousness.  

Chakra Medicine

“Chakra Medicine is based on the idea that diseases of our major organs can be due to the imbalance or blocks of vital energy movements at the corresponding chakra.” (Goswami, 152).  Block is a term commonly used when a chakra is out of balance and not functioning well.  The chakra may be spinning in the wrong direction, spinning too slowly, hardly spinning at all or spinning too quickly, all which cause an imbalance. 

Blocks are created by negative energy that is unable to be released from the body such as negative energy experienced through traumatic life experiences, emotional challenges and even by picking up the energy of other people or energy that is stuck in some places. Whatever the cause for your energy block, a block in one chakra will affect the overall energy flow throughout the chakra system as they are all interconnected and manifest as ailments in the mental, emotional, physical and/or spiritual bodies.

There are various ways you can bring your chakras back into proper alignment and balance including reiki, Angel Energy Healing,  other forms of vibrational healing, sound frequency, crystals, and meditation. 

In this blog post series, I will go into further depth into each of the seven chakras and ways you can restore and bring balance to each one. 

 

 

Works Cited 

Davies, M.D, Brenda. The 7 Healing Chakras: Unlocking Your Body’s Energy Centers. Ulysses Press, 2000.

Drouin, M.D, Dr. Paul. Creative Integrative Medicine: A Medical Doctor’s Journey towards a New Vision for Health Care. Balboa Press, 2014.

Goswami PhD, Amit. “Chakra Medicine”. Quantum Doctor: A Quantum Physicist Explains the Healing Power of Integral Medicine. Hampton Roads, 2011.