3 ways to de-stress.

3 ways to de-stress.

  1. Hold your breath. Your body is ultra-smart when it comes to detecting changes in the pH levels of your blood. Hold your breath, count to ten and then take a HUGE exhale. This triggers your chemoreceptors to tell your brain and your lungs that your body could benefit from more oxygen. Taking a huge exhale sends the message that it’s safe to de-stress and get back on track after a stressful trigger.

Try it: Extended Exhale Breathing 

2. Laugh (really loudly). The 10th cranial nerve is the Vagus nerve; it innervates essential organs and communicates directly with the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle in the body. It’s no secret that deep breathing promotes stress reduction—but add some sound to that breath and your positive vibes double. The Vagus nerve also innervates the larynx, so laugh loudly (joyfully, not obnoxiously) and feel your stress melt away.

 

3. Meditate. Meditation reduces stress by teaching your mind to uni-task, instead of being distracted and stressed by multi-tasking a million things. Just ten minutes of daily meditation has positive effects on your immune system, your focus and your stress-level.

Try it! Counting 1 to 10: Beginning Meditation


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quick fix: stress free in 60 seconds.

quick fix: stress free in 60 seconds.

You know those days that Nascar past you and leave you on the side of a dusty track feeling confused, jittery and not altogether sound of mind? The well-intentioned words “Yes, yes, yes, I’ll do that right after _____” are lost in the clamor of the day and ‘present moment’ or ‘mindfulness’ seem like ridiculous concepts that only used to matter to you. I definitely have those days. Usually involving surprises like, oh, a circuit breaker blew and the electricity is out, or oh, your colleague is in the hospital and needs all her classes covered or oh, Armageddon is on its way.

These are the days where finding time to meditate seems absolutely impossible because, well, frankly, you aren’t sure when you’ll find the time to even go to the bathroom.

On these days, I use a powerful ‘quick fix’ meditation technique that re-sets my brain as quickly as fixing a blown fuse. It is based on a Kundalini Yoga technique of combining a mantra (repetition of a word or phrase), a mudra (hand position) and breathing in rhythm.

When I’m caught in the whirlwind of activity on a break-neck speed day, I only need about 60 seconds to feel its benefits.


 

“I am peace and calm” 

How to do it:

Touch the first finger to the thumb: “I”

Touch the second finger to the thumb: “am”

Touch the third finger to the thumb: “peace”

Touch the fourth finger to the thumb: “and calm.”

Close your eyes, repeat rhythmically and breathe deeply for 60 minutes.

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“I am peace and calm.” 

Why to do it:

Physiologically, the fine motor movement is a tactile reminder your brain to re-set its cascade of stress hormones and pay attention to the present moment.

Intellectually, the usage of present tense language of the mantra is a reminder you have the capacity to selectively create your awareness.

Energetically, the connection of the finger tips to the thumb creates a circuit that acts as a conduit for the Spirit to feel connected.


Try it here: “I am Peace and Calm”

You may not have 20 minutes for a full meditation practice, but you probably you have 60 seconds.

Happy Stressing Less,

-lisa


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3 lessons to learn: how to become ‘less-stressed.’

My best friend ate an acorn yesterday.  He snapped up, chomped up, and swallowed that acorn whole before I even knew that he’d sniffed out something to eat.  Immediately, I freaked out:  I’m fairly sure that dogs are allergic to acorns.  (I didn’t freak out as much as I did when Russell ate an entire piece of pizza on the sidewalk outside The Bronx last fall… but, still, I was not happy about the acorn.)

Russell SmallAll day long, I waited for him to get sick, washcloth on hand to prevent any doggie-puke from drying on my bed.  And you know what?  He was fine.  He is fine.  He’s a tough cookie.

My dog-mom anxiety was unwarranted and (probably?) unhelpful.  Last night before drifting off to sleep, I remembered an article written by my dear friend Carrie Wood, called “The Acorn Lesson in Healing.”  Carrie is a Spiritual Counselor based in Ontario, Canada, and was one of my first spiritual mentors.  In this article, she remembers a similar, slightly traumatic experience from her childhood involving an acorn and gives us Three Lessons to become “less-stressed.”

She writes:

“I barreled out of the house barefoot to run and get my father, and ended up jamming an acorn between my big toe and toe nail.  I’m sure I cried bloody murder, and in my young eyes, there was enough blood to prove it.  Dad swept me off my feet and rushed me to the bathroom, resting my bloodied legs in the bathtub.  He was calm and collected. . . I on the other hand was freaking out.   My heart was racing, I went into a full blown sweat, and my breathing was shallow and frantic.

Dad was searching through the medicine cabinet and then came towards me with what appeared to be tape of some kind, bandages, and a bottle of what I thought to be rubbing alcohol.  “Don’t put that on me, it’ll sting!” I cried.  Without hesitation, he told me to close my eyes, and just keep taking really deep breaths. 

Before I could finish my first “deep breath” that acorn was yanked out from under my toe-nail, and something poured over my foot, I looked down at what appeared to be a tub filled with blood, and in my panic, he said,  “It’s Iodine.  It’s red, see!“ and poured more out to prove my blood loss would not be fatal.   I believed him.   Up to that moment, I feared a trip to the hospital; poking, prodding, and even surgery!  (I know, what a drama queen, eh?)  Per request, I resumed my deep breaths while he dressed my wound.

Lesson #1: 

Thoughts drive our emotions!

My heightened panic was a direct result of worrying about what my future might be like.  I suspect the pain I was experiencing was also rooted more in my worries than the actual experience of the moment.

Lesson #2:

Where my attention goes, energy flows! 

Focusing on my breath and more specifically, taking deep breaths taught me how to redirect my thoughts.  As long as I was focused on my fearful outcomes, my body was in agreement . . . my heart rate increased, my breath was quick and shallow and my anxiety increased.  When my attention shifted to breathing with intention, I increased the amount of oxygen to my lungs, slowed my heart rate, and broke my “stress cycle”.

Lesson #3:

Help from another person opens our situation to resources beyond our awareness.

I learned that day, that my father had served as a medic in the military and  previously worked caring for burn victims in a hospital ward.  Even without his background if he was unable to manage the situation, he would have called on someone who could.  The small scar on my right big toe was proof of my traumatic experience and retold “swapping horror stories” throughout my childhood.  No matter what emergency my parents responded to, my brother’s many broken bones, my sister’s cracked head, the tick burrowed into my head. . . their response was basically the same.  I am aware that there are far more horrific injuries many of us have encountered in our lives.  My story is not meant to trivialize more harmful situations, or belittle very real problems.  It is simply a story to illustrate how to begin to heal what is broken, one step at a time.

Don’t worry, everything will be fine.

Take deep breaths and calm down.

We’ll get you taken care of…”

My Russell was fine.  Carrie was fine.  We will ALL be fine… but we must learn to consciously control our breath, our thoughts, and our constant emotional reactions to stressful situations.  That’s were yoga comes in.  Trust me, it takes practice.   I hope these lessons are helpful to you in your search for a life of happiness, health, and wholeness.

-lisa

Carrie’s article can be found here on her blog, To Make Whole. She would love to hear from you.