September 24, 2013

4 Ways to Bounce Back from Stress.

Let’s face it.

Stress hits when we least expect it, and unfortunately, regardless of how well we manage a stressful situation, there’s going to be emotional and physical fall out afterwards.

Symptoms of stress are carried by an over active nervous system into our daily experience. Heart palpitations, an inability to feel calm and present and a racing mind are just a few of the symptoms we know all too well.

Here are three ways to reset yourself in the moment when you find your nervous system running on overdrive.

1. Alternate nostril breathing.

This balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, allowing thinking patterns to calm.  The best part is, it can be done anywhere. At your desk, on the subway, in a parked car or even an elevator.

Sit or stand comfortably. Close your eyes and place your right thumb near your right nostril. Hover your right ring finger over your left nostril. Now close your left nostril with your ring finger and inhale through the right nostril. Pause, close the right nostril with your thumb and release the left nostril and exhale.

Now inhale through the same (left) nostril and close it with your ring finger while releasing the right nostril and exhale. Pause, inhale through the right nostril, close and exhale through the left. Repeat this several times until the distractions around you seem to fade away.

2. Get yourself to a private spot where you can be alone for 5 minutes.

(Consider bathroom stall, conference room, cubicle or car)

Now sit, close your eyes and scan your body to find where you’re holding tension. Are your shoulders raised or jaw clenched? Headache or low back hurting?  Once you’ve found your tight spot, bring all of your attention to your breath. Begin a very slow deep inhale to the count of eight. Pause, and slowly exhale to count of eight.  At first, you may only be able to count to five but as you relax, your breath will slow.

Now focus on the tense spot in your body and imagine you’re actually inhaling and exhaling from this spot. Bring all of your attention here while imagining the center most point relaxing and opening like a camera lens with each breath.

3.  Count on your fingers and toes 20 things you’re grateful for in life.

Actually visualize each finger and toe as you say your gratitude aloud.

Bringing your attention to each individual digit, activates your pre frontal cortex in the brain and takes your body out of the fight or flight response…which is stress. On bad days, your first gratitude may simply be that you’re alive.

Come up with 19 more. This practice also shifts your brain into problem solving and distracts your current thinking loop.  Feelings of gratitude change your body’s chemistry immediately.

4. Reality check yourself.

Realize in the scheme of life, this is just a moment in time. Label the emotions you’re feeling as something outside yourself, because frankly, they ain’t you. Instead of thinking: I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m frustrated etc, think: I’m feeling anger, I’m experiencing sadness, fear is present.

When you can separate your being from the emotion passing through you, perspective arrives.



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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