Life’s busy. Some days you’re pulled in so many directions it makes your head spin…and your heart race. I know that’s the case for me.
Research suggests that certain behaviors can help us feel less stressed, more confident and powerful. They don’t take money or a lot of time. Talk about win-win.
In honor of Maine Women Magazine’s Health and Wellness issue this November, I’ve pulled together 3 quick and easy wellness tips you can use when life is feeling unmanageable, or you’re preparing for an important meeting, job interview or other high-stress event.
Try them out and find which ones feel right for you –
1) Grounding: Tony Schwartz, author and blogger for The Energy Project talks about simple, no-cost strategies for being more engaged and focused without burning yourself out. His big news: you don’t have to work harder. You have to work smarter. Taking breaks throughout your day is a great way to replenish your energy. Try this grounding practice at the start of your day or to reset your energy.
Sit or stand, feet firmly planted on the floor. Lengthen your spine, slight tuck of the chin. If standing, feet are slightly wider than hip distance apart. Close your eyes if you like, or, gaze softly at the floor in front of you. Take a few deep breaths in and out of your nose. Now, imagine you can send roots from the bottom of your feet down through the floor. Imagine those roots reach down, down, down, through the levels of the building you’re in, down through the basement and into the earth. Spread those roots deep and wide into the earth. Next, raise your arms slightly so that the palms of your hands face the floor. Imagine you can send roots from the palms of your hands down through the floor. Send those roots reach down, down, down, through the levels of the building you’re in, down through the basement and into the earth. Imagine those roots wrap around the roots you sent down from your feet. Anchoring you, connecting you with the Earth.
Take a few more deep breaths, and then slowly open your eyes. Noticing the floor in front of you, room around you. Notice the quality of your breath and how you’re feeling.
You can take two minutes or ten minutes for this practice when you want to feel calmer, centered, and focused.
2) Wonder Woman Power Pose: Harvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy has found “power poses” can change people’s perceptions and even change our own body chemistry. Cuddy’s work showed that “making yourself big” for just two minutes changes the brain in ways that build courage, reduces anxiety and inspires leadership.
Stand with your feet wide, and hands or knuckles on your hips. Hold this pose for 2 minutes and reap the benefits of getting big!
3) Mindful body scan: Mindfulness is getting a ton of coverage these days, with good reason. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has proved to be a lifeline for people amidst the chaos and confusion of modern-day life.
Here’s how it works….
Sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Take a few deep breaths in and out of your nose. Notice if your belly expands on the inhalation, falls on the exhalation. Bring your attention to your mouth. Notice any pulsing or tingling in your tongue, then roof of your mouth, teeth and gums. Focus on your nose; notice cool air drawing in on the inhalation, warm air on the exhalation. Now, feel your eyes. Noticing left eye, and then right eye. Feel both eyes at once. Focus on your ears….and then top of your head. Imagine a gentle river of relaxation flows down over the top of your head, over your forehead and face, softening face and jaw. Relaxation flows down the sides of your neck, softening back of your neck and into your shoulders. Shoulders soften. Relaxation flows down your arms, into your hands. Notice any pulsing or tingling in the palms of your hands. Traveling back up your arms to your shoulders, relaxation flows down, softening chest and ribs. Notice your chest and ribs. Relaxation flows down into your belly and pelvis. Hips soften and relaxation flows into thighs, shins and feet. Notice your feet. Feel toes and soles of your feet.
Take three smooth and steady breaths, feeling air flow in and out of your nose. Begin to bring movement back to your body, wiggling toes and moving one finger at a time. Slowly open your eyes.
So there you go: three easy, no-cost tools to support your well being, boost your confidence and renew your energy during your day and your beautiful, busy life!
Martha Williams is a shamanic practitioner and teaches yoga to individuals and groups seeking balance in their lives and optimal performance, health and wellbeing. Her work draws on her training as a therapist, social worker, certified yoga teacher and trained shamanic practitioner. A Maine resident, Martha received her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training from the YogaSpirit School of Yoga, studied core shamanic practices extensively with Dory Cote, and traveled to Peru and sat in ceremony with Q’ero Shamans, Alberto Villoldo and the Four Winds Society