A Toolbox to Counter Stress - No special equipment necessary!

Stress is widespread, and growing across the world with the health crisis.

December 28, 2021

Stress is widespread, and growing across the world with the health crisis. It affects us mentally and physically and it’s important to acknowledge that this is our new reality. Stress is part of everyday life. Here are four evidence based stress management interventions you can try.

1 Mindfulness meditation. Sit comfortably for 5-40 minutes (yes even 5 minutes is beneficial) and focus on your internal breathing. This simple strategy reduces negative emotions, and depression and strengthens areas of the brain associated with relaxation and joy. Focus on the present moment, not the past or the future. Just be. Just breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth.

2 Diaphragmatic breathing. Also known as belly breathing, this is a technique we can use to reduce stress, lower high blood pressure and decrease anxiety and depression. When we become stressed we often lift our shoulders to inhale and exhale. The breath becomes short and shallow. To breathe right down to the diaphragm, sit or lie down on your back and take slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose, right down into the belly until you can see or feel the belly fill up (kind of like a balloon). Pause for just a moment, then slowly exhale (deflate the balloon completely). Try placing your hand on your belly so you can feel the breath coming in as well as the exhale out. To take it a step further, work towards slowing the exhale down even more.

3 Body Scan with muscle relaxation. Lie down on your back and close your eyes. Starting from the feet and moving up (or start from the face and move downwards) slowly become aware of each muscle group. Contract each muscle group for a few seconds, then completely relax it. For example, starting with the feet, then the calves, next the thighs, then the buttocks, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms, forearms, hands, neck, then the face, forehead, jaw, and eyes. Try this at the end of a class or just before bed.

4 Positive Visualization. Mental imagery can relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia simply by imagining a nice place for 5-15 minutes. A beautiful scene, especially natural environments connect us with nature and lower stress levels and relaxation. Try this anytime you need a little beak, it is simple and effective.


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