"I do not even have time to breathe/ think/read this article!" Sound familiar?
We are all busy. Ask almost anyone how they are, and instead of the
standard "fine" or "good," you will most likely get a response of "busy,"
"hectic," "crazed" or "stressed."
We do not need to imagine what that does to our emotional and physical
well-being when we are in a constant state of alert. We see it. We are
tired, anxious, have chronic headaches, neck tension, and many other physical and emotional symptoms from being overworked, overtaxed, and overwhelmed.
We all need down time; our bodies require rest, restoration, relaxation
to refill our energy (qi), and cells – much like a car needs a gas refill
or it will no longer function.
The question is, how? We barely have time in the day to think so how do
we make time for a little self-care/ down time?
1) Give your ears a good massage.
Yes, I said your ears. In Chinese Medicine, the ear is viewed as an
upside down infant. Each organ and body part has a representation in the
ear. By stimulating these points, any blocked energy (qi) can begin to
move freely again. This balances overall energy on both the physical and
emotional level and helps the body and mind relax. So begin and/or end
the day by giving your ears a 2 minute massage to help your body relieve
2) Get disconnected (from technology).
Technology is a wonderful invention that has allowed us to communicate
and connect in ways that are truly amazing. However, I believe we need
to find balance in that connection. It is OK to not answer a call and
let voicemail pick up. It is OK to take a class, go to lunch, take a walk
and not have your phone connected to your person, compelled to answer every call, text or email. I can hear all the "buts" – "What if it is an emergency?" or, "I cannot miss a call or I can lose business." I understand, as I struggle with those questions as well. However, I do think we can all take 15 or 30 minutes a day at
least and turn off the phone. It takes practice to not worry and stress
about what we may be missing. However, in time, there is great freedom and
relaxation from not being constantly hyper-aware of every ring, alert,
or red flashing light. It is also very important to disconnect from all
technology at least an hour before bed to let your mind unwind and
prepare for sleep.
3) Move your body.
We hear it all the time and there is a reason for that. It is good for
every part of your body. It prevents muscles from atrophying, it
prevents your qi (energy) from getting stagnant, it helps your circulation,
heart, lungs, digestive system and mind. You need not feel compelled to set an hour a day for exercise. Simply, take a 10 minute walk, breathe in some fresh air. Grab your dog and watch how they walk – they take in all the scents and sights, they take a roll on their back on someones lawn (though I do not advise – your neighbors may worry), they run through a sprinkler, they stretch with downward dog and they socialize. You do not have to make it a full blown workout. Just
find 10 minutes here and there and get up and move your body. Stretch,
shake it out, dance, whatever works for you – just allow your body to
move throughout the day.
4) Take a ride.
Do you remember the joy of getting your drivers license and getting in a
car and feeling the wind in your hair and blasting some great tunes?
Doesn't that put a smile on your face to even think about? So grab your
favorite playlist or turn on your favorite station and get in the car by
yourself and take a ride – even if it is 5 or 10 minutes. We live in a
great town, take a ride by the water, plan to see a sunrise or sunset
and simply enjoy those few moments with nowhere to be, nowhere to go -
feel the difference of being in the car without the pressures of having
to be or get somewhere. (Of course, you have the option of a bike ride
as well, which combines tip #3, moving your body.)
Sure we do it every day but are you truly mindful of your breathing? Are
you breathing shallow breaths from above your diaphragm or are you
taking deep breaths which can be felt all the way in your lower abdomen?
This is a simple exercise you can do anytime, anywhere. Place your hands
on your lower abdomen and count to 10 on the inhalation and 10 on the
exhalation, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth
for at least 3-5 cycles. Think about taking in fresh, light air with
each inhalation and releasing any stagnant, heavy, stress-filled air
with each exhalation. Fill yourself up with all that is good, let go of
all that is holding you down.
In this day and age, it has become easy to get caught up in negativity.
The media has become filled with fear and bad news. It is not always
easy to let go of the day's stresses in our own life or in the world at
large. A daily practice of gratitude is a great way to bring the focus
to the positive and remind ourselves of what is good in our life. By
taking a moment at the end or beginning of each day to write down what
we have to be thankful for, even if we feel sad, angry or scared, we
allow our minds a moment to let go of some of those feelings that
may be weighing us down and shift to what made us smile or laugh or what
made us feel good about ourselves or another. It takes practice and may
not feel easy or natural at first, but in time it becomes a positive
habit, and gratitude simply becomes a way of being present in the
moment. (If you need a little guidance, I am going to put a link to a
wonderful gratitude journal in the comments section, created by Port
Washington resident, Lorraine Miller)
Acupuncture is a great support for stress relief. I will simply convey
what a new client said to me after their acupuncture session last week.
"I immediately felt all the tension leave my body after all the needles
went in. The only word I can use to describe the session is blissful."
Perhaps some of these tips will speak to you and will be easy for you to
incorporate in your daily routine. Perhaps they will plant the seed for
other ideas that may serve you better. The key point is to make sure you
make some time in each day for yourself. Take note of how you feel to be
connected to your body and see how making time for your own self care
allows you to feel more present and less stressed for your loved ones
and your daily tasks.