a stress-reducing, immune-boosting workshop for
mind and body

Stress Trick #1 - Mindful Eating

Because our energies are geared towards fight or flight when we are stressed, our immune and digestive systems are put on the back burner. If you choose to eat when you are stressed, food won’t digest properly which can lead to intestinal ailments. Before eating, take a moment to appreciate the food – pause, breathe, look at it and smell it. Focus on the taste and the act of eating. Avoid using your cell phone or eating in front of the computer which can elicit stress. Try looking at something visually pleasing or lighting a tea candle and focusing on the flame while eating.

Stress Trick #2 - Get Distance

When we are stressed, our bodies are designed to focus intently on the stressor. (Imagine if a saber-toothed cat were chasing us, we would want to give it all our attention!) Therefore, our peripheral vision becomes limited when we are stressed. If we can remember this fact, we can then take a step back to get a larger perspective on the situation. Momentarily getting “distance” from our stressor can help us respond in a more productive way. We can get distance by walking away and taking a few deep breaths. We can engage in another activity to take our minds off the stressor until we are ready to explore new insights and options. Or we can mentally walk away and shift our attention to something else. Visualize a beautiful scene in nature or simply “drop into being” by focusing on sensations that are coming in through our five senses. For example: What am I hearing right now? What am I smelling? What is my body touching and how does it feel, etc. ? This type of mindfulness practice can give us a needed reprieve when we are under any type of stress.

Stress Trick #3 - Eyes of a Child

You can get back to a place of compassion by imagining the people causing you stress as they were when they were a baby or young child. You can even keep baby photos or pictures of them from their childhoods on your desk or dresser to remind you daily that we all start from a place of innocence. We then take on layers of behaviors and perceptions based on our surroundings and our unique internal wiring. Seeing them as the innocent children they were brings us back to a place of tolerance and acceptance. When we look into the eyes of a young child, we instantly see the beauty and innocence of humans. We can connect to the soul – theirs and ours – by just looking into those eyes and finding that pure source again. Breathe in deeply as you gaze into the eyes and send out love. If you don’t have photos, you can just imagine that you are gazing into those beautiful innocent eyes.

Stress Trick #4 - Act As If

It’s not easy to control our thoughts and emotions, especially in the heat of the moment, but they are there, underneath our behaviors and actions. There is a “two-way radio” between our mind and body: what we think about affects our physical being just as our physical experience affects what we think about. If we can practice being more in control of our actions, despite what may be going on inside our heads, we will find that it gets easier to control what we think about and how we react. Even if we’re not feeling calm, loving or confident, we can act “as if” we are feeling that way. We can “model” the behavior and demeanor of someone we admire and, eventually, we will naturally exude more of those qualities. By acting “as if” and practicing modeling, we will positively influence our minds.
Stress Trick #5 – Fall Back on Your Resources
Having resources at the ready for help in times of stress is essential. Know who you can call when you need a supportive ear. Consider a stress management “tool box” that you can go to when things get overwhelming. In it you could have a favorite book earmarked at uplifting passages, items to soothe the senses: scented oils, chocolates, a cd of your favorite music, a stress ball and perhaps a relaxing card game such as Arjuna (www.arjunacardgame.com)
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