Welcome to Part 2 of my Stress-Less fall blog series. This is the time of year that my seasonal allergies kick in and “extracurricular” responsibilities kick off. For many of us Parent-Teacher conferences, Halloween, and Fall Break signal the beginning of added pressure to our schedules. Daylight savings time unfortunately does not actually give us more time!
On a good mood day, happy added to dos are welcome challenges to our balance. But sometimes the calendar doesn’t line up with our internal best selves. We get frazzled, impatient, or maybe we avoid the new stress all together by procrastinating. All of these responses are understandable but none of them help us regain our balance. At best we are going through our day with a dark cloud hanging inside of our head of what we have left undone. Can you relate to that? I know I can!
Here are three grounding techniques to help us stop the stress response and initiate the relaxation response long enough to get back into balance and make a plan for moving forward. This is the good kind of grounding (not like losing your phone privileges and such). They are called grounding because they remove us from reaction mode (stressed) to a here and now (safety) orientation.
Taking time to focus on your breathing is the quickest way to stop the stress response. Relaxation breath is always available and can be done in public without drawing undue attention to yourself. If possible, sit down with your feet securely touching the floor. Put your hands comfortably at your side or in your lap. Close your eyes to reduce visual stimulation. Breathe in through your nose. Hold for one moment, then slowly and steadily breathe out through your mouth. Do this for at least one minute, longer if you have the time.
2. Hand to Heart
While sitting or standing still, place your right hand over your heart, with your fingers pointing upward and resting by your neck. Focus your attention on your heartbeat. Some people have a strong signal, others is more faint. Allow yourself to notice your heart beat and clear your mind of all thoughts other than the beating of your heart. Wait for it to slow down and notice then how you are feeling in the rest of your body including your mind.
3. Write it Down
There is already a list in your mind but it is circular and operates on a loop. This noise in your brain adds to your stress response. Sit down with a pen and paper and write a simple list of the things that you are “concerned about.”
- The list is simple because it creates an order from the chaos.
- Once your are finished with your “concerns” list then begin your “what I have control over” list.
- The second list is to move you into action mode. Notice that many of the “concerns” have an element that we can influence through action.
- Determine what if anything you can do today. Remember to cross things off of your list when you are done
- Some “concerns” that trigger a stress response are completely out of our control, for these we have the work of acceptance which can only be accomplished in a calm state of mind.
Yoga is an activity that has many grounding exercises built into the movement and stillness. My plan this season is to spend more time on the yoga mat, less time in the gym.
Once you have moved from a stressed mind to a more grounded peaceful state remember to take a moment of gratitude for all that you have in your life, even though it is sometimes stressful.
Find the good and smile.