Stress and anxiety, whether you choose to accept it or not is something most, if not all of us, feel in our daily lives. And when it comes to feeling and doing our best, it is our biggest hindrance. It can stop us from exploring our full potential, opening up new chapters for ourselves and ultimately creating our most fulfilling life. It’s often a state of freeze caused by a fight or flight response and a sense of feeling helpless, which feels/looks different for everyone.
Practising mindfulness and meditation is one of the most powerful ways to help us get out of that funk and get ourselves unstuck. It reduces stress, improves concentration and helps us develop more compassion for ourselves and others enabling us to therefore put our best foot forwards. However, for some of us the thought of ‘sitting still’ to meditate or be mindful can cause our anxiety and stress to peak rendering the exercise counter-intuitive.
So instead, we can copy the principles of mindfulness and meditation and incorporate it into movements. It helps us reconnect with our bodies, centres and grounds us. The whole idea behind self-help is to find practises and habits that suit your needs and personality. It’s totally pointless to adopt a technique which doesn’t align with how you work, otherwise it’s a habit to which you won’ ever stick.
Below are 5 alternative ways to get out of your head, into your body, and develop skills that are going to enable you to give yourself the best chance at success:
Walking is a fantastic way to practise mindfulness as it’s something you probably do every single day. Whether it be ten minutes on your way to work (which is actually a great way to prepare and let go of any negative thoughts about the day ahead), a walk in the park in the evening or on weekends. You’ll also have the added bonus of walking in nature which can help you feel more connected, awake and alert.
This one probably doesn’t come as much a surprise as the art of yoga is steeped in mindfulness/meditative practises. It combines the gentle movements of the body, with the awareness of your breath to help you really tune in. Exercise in general is a great excuse to zone out of your thoughts and into your body, so if yoga doesn’t appeal to you, try applying it to your next low-moderate exercise class.
There’s a reason people have ‘Zen gardens’. Gardening, even if you don’t have a garden, and instead have potted plants in your house, can still be a great way of getting into your zen. It helps you get into a sense of flow, and also means you’re investing and taking care of your home space which is really important for a more relaxed, decluttered space and mind.
Swimming, mostly due to the relaxing effects of the water paired with your focus on breathe, is an amazing way of adding some mindfulness to your day. As well as enabling you to get into a real meditative state, it obviously has the added benefit of being a fun way of taking care of our bodies and keeping fit! It’s a win win.
5) Artistic/creative outlet
Creative engagement forces you to engage and remain focused with the task at hand, and therefore allows you the space to let go of your stress. Creating and imagining also gives us a sense of purpose. It’s even been found to lower blood pressure, the stress hormone cortisol and even your BMI.
So whichever habit you choose, even if it’s not on this list / or some variation of the list, make sure it fits in with how you work, how you learn and ultimately what makes you feel good. We can only perform our best when we take the time to feel our best!