Get Your Inner Zen On!
Resolutions not sticking? Work on your Inner Zen as a way to reduce stress instead.
Now that the holiday bedlam has been put to… well, bed and we have rung in the New Year, most of us are in dire need of some Zen. Finding inner peace and calm can mean different things to different people. For some of us, it means stopping and reflecting. Others find the idea of stopping just when the year has started to be laughable. The news is that there are ways for everyone to find some inner calm and focus. Plus they don’t always mean you need to slow down your life, though doing so certainly wouldn’t hurt! Below are a few methods for focus and relaxation that everyone can practice, creating a habit to last you the whole year through.
You know that yoga is good for combating stress, but if you don’t have time for a full on yoga session, try daily stretching. Even just a few minutes of stretching your muscles can relieve tension and energize you. Focus your stretches on areas where you feel tension. Common places will be the neck, shoulders, hips and lower back. You might also think about stretching your feet, where your body holds stress from daily activities. Even stretching your shoulders in the shower, under hot water, can help relax you and start your day off on a great note.
Spiritual Meditation (or Prayer)
If you are one of the more than 90% of Americans, or 88% of the world population, that believes in God or a higher spiritual being you should consider spiritual meditation or prayer on a daily basis. Prayer and spirituality provide a positive direction for thought and a chance to connect both your physical and spiritual sides. You may consider using prayer guides or devotionals, meditating with a focus on listening for spiritual guidance or reading your faith’s holy texts on a regular basis. Setting aside time to cultivate your spiritual relationship with God provides a sense of accomplishment and reduces stress.
The darling of Psychologists, Counselors and Coaches everywhere, Mindfulness is gaining traction as one of the most effective methods of therapy and meditation. For good reason too, since it’s a fairly simple concept that anyone can understand and practice. The general premise of Mindfulness is to maintain a state of non-judgmental intention and acceptance towards your thoughts, self and surroundings. The easiest way to begin is by practicing Mindfulness Meditation. Begin by finding a comfortable place to sit or lay, where you will not be disturbed. Then, taking deep, intentional breaths, allow yourself to just – be. Focusing on your intake and releasing of breath, remain still. Notice your thoughts, but do not dwell on them and when your mind does wander, bring it back by returning your focus to your breath. Regular practice will allow you to deepen the stillness of your mind. You will find it wandering less and less. Additionally, applying this same method of intention, recognition and non-judgmental reaction can be brought into all areas of your life, bringing you a regular sense of calm and awareness.
Take it Outside
Being outside and in nature is an instant and proven mood booster. All too often we get stuck indoors, behind our desks, trapped in our climate controlled bubbles. There are many times that we could accomplish the same tasks outdoors! Have a phone call to take for work? Grab your cell and pop outside for it. Brainstorming session with the team? Take a walking meeting which can spur creativity while participating in two uber-beneficial destressors – gentle movement (walking) and being outdoors. Of course, this method relies a little on the weather and outdoor conditions (so you won’t be able to do this every day) but it’s definitely something to add to your relaxation repertoire.
Finding a sense of calm, doesn’t mean that you need to stop and meditate for an hour every day. Spending a few minutes stretching, praying or meditating, practicing an intentional way of thinking and making concerted efforts to be outside are all that is required to incorporate more calm into your day-to-day life.