Right now, we're collectively exhausted. 2020 has challenged us mentally, physically and emotionally and every day we're learning to cope with and manage new changes and stressors. More and more of us are becoming interested in practices like meditation, exercising and breathing techniques to help practice mindfulness and alleviate stress during this time.
Exercise 1: Tap Into Your Toughness
"I'm certain you've been through tough times. It may have been losing someone close to you, a breakdown of a relationship or a serious accident/illness and as cliche, as it sounds, you got through it. First, know that you are tougher than you give yourself credit for. Second, bump up your toughness by introducing it to its good friend, discipline. I'm not talking about the type of discipline you received after going to that high school party when your parents said you couldn't. I'm talking about self-discipline. Putting goals around healthy habits. This is the exact reason why I launched the 5-Week Mindfulness Challenge, 5-Alive. To help make meditation an enjoyable, healthy, lifelong habit. Write down some goals around exercise that make you feel good and healthy and then share them with your friends. Show them and yourself how tough you are and you will be rewarded."
Exercise 2: Mentally Remove Stored Stress in the Body
"Any newly prescribed drug before it hits the pharmacy shelves has to go through what they call a 'placebo test'. Where the manufacturer has to do a clinical test of its drug against a placebo pill (a simple sugar pill that has 'nothing' in it). What astonishing often happens is that up to 7/10 of the time the placebo pill has an equal effect as the newly tested drug. The power your mind has to heal is very real.
"One of our most popular classes at Soul Alive is our Healing Hump-Day class. Where you're guided to mentally scan your body for areas that feel uncomfortable, painful, tight, heavy etc. and then use your cognitive ability to 'pull-out' the pain and replace it with a feeling of ease, lightness and freedom.
"This exercise is a very powerful process to keep your body feeling good and your mind at ease."
Exercise 3: Breathe Deeply For 2-Minutes
"I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard about the benefits of deep breathing and I have to admit, the hype is worth it. Our breath is the life force of our bodies. There is no other more essential element to human life than breathing. We can't exist for much longer than 10 minutes without it. What does our body automatically do when we feel frustrated (maybe after the initial anger response)? We usually take a big, deep unconscious sigh. This is the body's auto stress relief responder. So it makes sense to consciously engage in breathing exercises, particularly when we're going through a difficult time."
Box breathing is a simple and great technique to try:
- Close your eyes. Breathe deeply in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
- Repeat the this process for around 2 minutes and see how you feel.