- Laura Fairweather
4 Simple Ways to Free Yourself from the Weight of the World
I have heard from many people who feel sad, angry, fearful and full of stress as a result of the election process and the election itself. These events have brought issues to the forefront that some may have never had to examine before. Protests from those who feel oppressed are rising and this causes some people fear. No matter what side of the isle you are on, uncertainty has made people feel out of control. When people feel out of control, it brings on large amounts of stress.
Contrary to popular belief, stress can be good. It can be a productive element setting people into motion to do positive things that they might have never done. However, stress can become bottled if it doesn’t have an outlet, becoming unproductive or outright dangerous to our bodies and minds. So I want to share some simple ways for you to free yourself from the weight of the world and once again feel grounded, healthy and fulfilled:
1. FIND GRATITUDE
Take a few moments to concentrate on all that you have rather than focus on the things you wish were different. When we find gratitude, even in the small things, we literally change the chemicals in our body and mind. Studies have found grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, are happier, exhibit less depression and are better equipped to overcome trauma in their lives. Jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed can even help you to sleep better and longer. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it helps to foster resilience.
2. CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Did you ever feel better after spending time with people you enjoy? Have you ever felt good after helping a friend or a stranger? That, my friends, is Oxytocin at work. It is a natural chemical in our body that is an anti-inflammatory, it relaxes blood vessels and it actually helps your heart to regenerate and heal. Biology aside, generosity and finding simple ways to connect with our fellow human beings are remarkable ways to reduce stress. Give a smile, hold a door, say “hello” - any act to reach out to each other makes a difference. Share hugs, laughter, gratitude, a walk in the park, a phone call to say, “I’m thinking of you” are simple yet powerful actions to make stress reduction go a long way.
3. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
The trees, plants, animals, sun and fresh air have a way of naturally restoring and grounding us. Fresh oxygen from plants and a connection to other forms of life can offer a soothing and less turbulent flow of energy all around us. Purposely change sensory lenses as you walk, run, bike or sit; examine the less noticeable smaller life as well as the bigger atmosphere all around you. It is also an opportunity to share the experience with another person, your family, your dog, or walk alone for your own self-discovery. Nature is there to nurture us.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BREATHING
Breathing is essential to our existence. We do it unconsciously all of the time - we have to or we will die. But we also have the ability to harness some amazing things when we actually use it in a controlled manner. “Conscious” breathing allows us to initiate a relaxation response in our bodies that reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, improves digestion, and reduces chronic pain. Simply put, pay attention to your breath. Even if you periodically stop to think about breathing a few times each day, you can make a difference. Here are some things to do for conscious breathing:
Bring air into your belly first before bringing it to your lungs. It helps if you put your hand on your stomach to feel it rise as the air comes in. Belly breathing will naturally help to initiate the relaxation response in your body.
Breathe out completely; we have a tendency to keep too much air in causing shallower breaths.
Follow your breath as it comes in through your nose or mouth, goes into your stomach and lungs, and turns around to come back out. This will help to set a rhythm and lets you experience the present moment, giving you a break from the busy “noise” in your head.
The beauty of breathing is you can do it anytime, anywhere and it only takes a few breaths to make a difference. EASY PEASY!
These actions are simple, yet powerful, and place you in control instead of letting events in the outside world take over. No need to let life just happen; you can make a difference for yourself and for others too!