These past several months may have you being pulled in a million different directions. As we have all had to shift our norm, wear different hats as a colleague/parent/teacher and except daily disruptions, factors such as the coronavirus pandemic are having an effect on mental health in America. According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, the levels of stress for adults have increased from 4.9/10 in 2019 to 5.4/10 (more for parents at 5.9/10!) in 2020. Learn how you can use meditation, exercise and breathwork to help you keep your stress in check during the day.
Add Mindful Moments
Adding mindful moments during your day will help keep you on track and productive. Mindfulness is all about being aware in the present moment without judgement. Allowing yourself five minutes of mindfulness before a big meeting or when your mind is racing, you are more likely to feel centered, more relaxed and aware.
Try It: Sit in a comfortable seated position with your feet touching the Earth or ground. Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. Take a long, slow, deep breath in, followed by a longer, slower, complete breath out. Allow your breath and body to be anchors to the present moment. Every time your mind wonders, bring it back to your breath, bring it back to your body. Repeat for 1-5 minutes and incorporate into your daily routine.
Exercise for Endorphins
If you are feeling stressed and your brain needs a rest, take some time to get a little exercise. Can’t leave the classroom or your home office? No problem! Incorporate a little yoga into your day to release those “feel good” chemicals called endorphins to help you clear the brain fog and minimize your stress.
Try It: Get up from your desk and stretch. Starting in Mountain Pose — stand with feet together and arms hanging to your side with palms facing outward — bring your palms together and reach them toward the sky. Stretch to one side and then the other and gently fold forward from the hips and toward your toes. Take three deep breaths. Then slowly rise back up to mountain pose and extend your arms over head and gently reach your upper body back and you press your hips forward. Return to Mountain Pose. Close eyes and feel. Repeat throughout your day. This gentle, full-body stretch will provide much-needed circulation throughout the body and leave you feeling free from aches and pains.
Breathe In, Breath Out
Think about a time when you were relaxed — maybe it was one day on the weekend while enjoying company or maybe it was right before you fell asleep. What was your breathing like? Was it frantic and quick, or relaxed and even? Most likely the latter. The practice of deep breathing during a time when you are stressed can help you relax, release tension and reduce stress.
Try It: Long slow inhale, followed by a longer, slower exhale. The inhale provides you with energy to get you through your day, while the exhale facilitates relaxation to keep you calm no matter what situations arise. Try the “Three-Part Breath” to bring in more fresh breath and oxygen and release what no longer serves you — STRESS!