The 5 Ways I Learned to Ease My Stress, Calm My Mind & Energize My Body.

Via Denise Dare
on Nov 15, 2014
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breathe

When My Jaw Locked Close, I Knew It Was Time for Change.

Have you ever been hit by that wave of exhaustion that leaves you feeling empty and cranky right around 3 p.m?

If you’re anything like me, your life is incredibly full, and you can totally relate to this exhaustion and overwhelm…and stress.

Sometimes, life can feel like a race from sunrise until late into the night.

There’s just so damn much to do in this life, it can be easy to succumb to the pressure and get overwhelmed by stress.

I know because it’s happened to me. (And far too often than I care to admit.)

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a get shit done kinda girl.

Always the overachiever, I put pressure on myself to be the very best…which sadly meant often sacrificing my own well-being in the name of well-doing.

When my body started succumbing to stress in my teens, I began suffering from the dis-ease of chronic headaches and TMJ (serious jaw tension…so severe at times that I couldn’t even open my mouth because my jaw was locked from so much stress!).

Thankfully, I was unwilling to accept my doc’s advice to just continue taking pain relievers.

I knew I wanted to find another way to feel better. To ease my stress. To calm my mind. To energize my body.

And that’s how I landed myself on a yoga mat for the first time.

What a miracle.

Truly, I would be a completely different woman than I am today without my practice.

It’s been nearly 20 years now that I’ve practiced this discipline of bliss, of self awareness, and of learning to love myself.

Turns out that listening to and nurturing my body had a ripple effect.

Now, I have friends ask me, “Were you always this calm?”

And I laugh to myself, knowing there was a time when stress would so easily get the better of me.

Now I know how to shift from stressed and exhausted to energized and at ease in no time.

Learning how to relax and choose more ease has changed everything for me.

And I am so grateful for these five easy and effective practices that help me feel more vibrant and alive…whether I’ve only got one minute or 30, I choose what feels best in the now.

1. Gift myself a 30 minute power nap

If I’m feeling especially exhausted (or cranky!), I’ll set my timer with a gentle sound to awaken me, grab an eye pillow, and maybe some ear plugs, and get comfy on my couch or bed.

I do my best to really focus on my breath to help me relax and consciously allow ease to wash over me body.

I also set my intention that I’ll feel energized when I rise again.

Then, I just enjoy the stillness, soak up the relaxation, feel the ease.

And remember to let go of any guilt about giving myself this gift.

I remind myself that this loving care is a gift to me and to everyone around me.

So I surrender and give myself permission to enjoy nurturing me.

2. Recline in Savasana for 20 minutes

First, I recline on a yoga mat, the floor, or maybe even a soft patch of grass at the park. Whatever suits me in the moment is just right.

Next, I allow my eyes to close softly and let my breath feel natural.

I allow my legs to relax so they’re wider than my hips and rest my arms by my sides with palms turned up.

An alternative hand placement is bringing one hand to my heart and one to my belly…to really tune in to the flow of my breath and the beat of my heart.

Now, all I need to do is rest.

Relax.
Surrender.
Release thoughts.
Soothe my body.
Reemerge feeling light and energized.

20 minutes of deeply breathing in Savasana (aka corpse pose) can absolutely transform the state of my mind and body.

3. Meditate for 10 minutes

I trust that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.

The point is to align with my higher consciousness, my deeper wisdom, my pure love.

I let myself experiment with what feels right.

Next, I choose my seat, whether lying on my bed, standing in the middle of a forest, walking along the beach…it’s all good.

I allow my eyes to gently close as I become aware of the breath.

Doing my best to stay focused on the present moment, acknowledging but not engaging in my thoughts.

I give my focus to the present.

Sometimes, I’ll add a simple mantra to the inhalation and exhalation to help maintain focus.

One beautiful mantra is So Hum, meaning “I am that.”

This expression invites the busy mind to calm and focus on the essence of being rather than doing.

Alternatively, I may want to add a visualization, like imagining any thoughts transforming into leaves that fall upon a stream and float away.

Whatever I choose, it’s just practice.

I trust that no matter what, my meditation is for my good.

I simply allow my meditation to be a means to tune in, to free my mind of the busyness of thought, and to align with my inner wisdom.

The more I meditate, the more ease and energy I feel.

It’s totally worth it.

4. Legs up the wall for five minutes

Even if my life is uber-full, I can still fit this into my schedule!

To begin, I set a timer with a gentle ring to remind me when five minutes has passed.

Then, I find a wall with open space on the floor.

I sit down with one hip against the wall.

As I recline onto my back, I lift my legs so they are vertical.

(Another option is to recline and rest your legs on a chair or couch with knees bent at a 90 degree angle…I’ll do whichever version feels best for my body in the present.)

I relax my hands by my side or on my heart and belly.

Now, I close my eyes and breathe deeply and slowly.

My body and mind so appreciate these few minutes to rest and rejuvenate myself to move forward through my day with more grace and energy.

And, I notice how much more peace I create in my relationships when I’ve taken time to care for me.

5. Get cozy in child’s pose for one minute

If I’m feeling exhausted and only have a moment, then I’ll find a soft spot on the floor, come to my hands and knees, and push my booty back to my heels.

Here, I rest my body on my thighs and relax my head to the Earth.

There are countless variations to this ancient posture, so I’ll do whatever feels right for my body in the moment.

I especially like bringing my knees wide with my big toes touching and letting my body ease between my legs as I reach my hands overhead on the floor and relax my forehead to the Earth.

After I’ve given myself about 10 deep breaths, slowly I’ll lift my body and carry on with my day feeling more connected, relaxed and at ease.

Life is precious. We deserve to enjoy it.

Giving myself the gift of relaxation invites so much more ease, energy, and joy into my relationships and my life.

Here’s hoping these practices will inspire you, too!

 

 

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Author: Denise Dare

Editor: Travis May

Photo: marie-aschehoug-clauteaux at Flickr 


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About Denise Dare

Denise Dare is a Happiness Artist dedicated to helping daring dreamers radically transform their lives from the inside out. She believes that happiness is our purpose. And love is the way.

Through writing, speaking, and mentoring, she inspires us to move forward with clarity, courage, and confidence, so we feel free to shine + enjoy every step of the journey.

Denise believes aligning with ease + freedom + love makes anything possible.

For inspiration + a rad ebook full of challenges to love yourself more fully, visit Denise at her virtual home here.

Comments

12 Responses to “The 5 Ways I Learned to Ease My Stress, Calm My Mind & Energize My Body.”

  1. Lottie says:

    I'm a big fan of these poses and also turn to them in times of overload. Funnily enough I was feeling quite overwhelmed just before I read your post and was reminded to go and indulge in yoga. I feel better now – thanks for the timely reminder -x-

  2. Annie says:

    Lovely guide. Especially touched by your inclusion of nature's metaphors. Looking for weed to your next post!

  3. Asja says:

    What a great reminder!!

  4. Annie says:

    Love it. Sharing!

  5. DeniseDare says:

    Yay! I'm so stoked to read your words, Lottie.

    Thank you for reading + letting yourself be reminded of the wisdom that is already inside of you.

    So happy to hear you gave yourself the loving care you deserve.

    Namaste, beauty.

  6. DeniseDare says:

    Thank you so much for your words, Annie!

    I'm happy to know this resonates with you…and that you, too, appreciate the power of nature to heal + restore us.

    Such an important part of taking loving care of ourselves.

    So much love.

    p.s. I'm lookin' forward to my next post, too…thanks! 😉

  7. DeniseDare says:

    Thank you so much, Asja!

    We can all use a little reminder, I believe. 🙂

    Sending love…

  8. DeniseDare says:

    Sweet!

    Thank you Annie…so appreciating your support!

    All love,

    D.

  9. kellyppm says:

    The story of your locked jaw reminds me of my recent experience with eye burnout. I love my online business so much that I was damaging my eyes from too much screen time. So obsessed was I that I'd just put drops in my sore screaming eyes and carry on working! It finally got so bad that my eyes gave up on me and forced me to stop.

    Now I've been integrating screen breaks into my day and I love your suggestions for things I can do during these essential breaks. Thank you Denise! I'm so glad your jaw is better. 🙂

  10. DeniseDare says:

    Thank you so much for your comment, Kelly.

    I know so often it's our body screaming at us that finally teaches us to slow down and create a little balance and ease in our lives.

    So happy to know you're implementing more self lovin' care…and hoping these practices will feel good to you, too!

  11. Thanks for your lovely post! I never had a locked jaw, but never was calm. At all. I am not the calm sort of person. I thought that's okay … until I had a gastritis out of nowhere and my physician looked at me and told me that most often this is related to stress. "Stress?! Me?! No!" I thought … and started thinking …
    Turns out I was SO stressed out all the time that I did not even notice. So I started to take much better care of myself, but it is really hard for me to learn my lessons. So I loved reading that over time you did become calm … so I have something to look forward to. 😉 And I also loved reading about what worked for you. I do power naps as well and I also meditate. Will definitely try the legs up the wall – have read about it before, but so far not tried it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    xox
    Ursula

  12. DeniseDare says:

    Ursula, I so appreciate you sharing your story + being open to giving yourself more opportunities to relax + cultivate that calm. 😉

    You're totally gonna love legs up the wall…it's amazing how this can transform our energy + stress levels so quickly.

    Thank you for being part of the conversation + for taking good care of you.

    Love + Peace,

    D

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