Mindfulness Lectures

Mindful Mondays Series

Stress affects us in different ways. We all handle and hold on to stress differently in our bodies and minds. This short lecture provides you with tools that can help move through the stress more easily.

Releasing Stress

Releasing Stress Transcript

Hi, my name is Kim McDermott, and I am a senior member of the Mindfulness Team here at Mii amo. Welcome to my presentation on releasing stress.

Today we are going to talk about the different ways stress can affect you and give you some tools that can help you with releasing the stress from your mind and body.

Stress can affect you emotionally, mentally and physically. We each tend to hold and store stress in different areas of our body. Some common areas are the jaw, such as clenching your jaw or grinding our teeth. Some of us hold stress and tension in our head, our neck, shoulders and upper back. And then there are those who hold tension in their stomach and organs in the body that can affect your digestive system, where it feels like everything is in knots.

Stress is a natural part of life as well as emotions. When they start to become an issue is when we internalize the stress and emotions, which many times we don’t realize we are holding on to it. A law of the universe is what comes in must go out. So, it is about finding ways to move the stress though rather than let it accumulate in your body.

When the body is stressed, it can create what is known as the ‘flight or fight’ response. It’s like a switch that gets turned on, but has a hard time shutting off, which can create tension in the body, affect our mood, and not be able to quiet the mind.

Another law of the universe is you first must receive and replenish and then you can give. Most of the time we are going and going and we don’t allow ourselves the proper rest and replenishment that our bodies and minds need.

Put yourself in your schedule, just like you have a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Take care of you as part of your ritual. Let taking care of you become a part of your life and this is a major step into reducing stress in your life. That’s self-care.

Here are some tools that may help you throughout your busy days:

Write a to do list either before bed or in the morning, so you don’t get overwhelmed and keep thinking about what you have to do throughout your day, it’s right there on the list. Be sure to keep the list light, so it is not too much, and remember there is always another day.

When we are stressed, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed. It’s about taking a step back and diffusing, resetting, and connecting to become more clear and replenish so we can continue our day more easily and in flow. Take time to reset your day. Be sure to take lunch away from your computer and desk.

Take about a 10 to 20-minute walk outside and get a little fresh air. Just doing those two things in the middle of your day, will reset your mind and the space you were in, so when you come back you are more clear and refreshed.

Exercise and movement is important. Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are great tools to help create balance in our bodies and mind. Whatever your exercise that feeds you, allow and create the time for yourself in these ways.

Also, taking a walk each day for at least 20 minutes will help keep us in balance. Getting outside and being in nature is also key to our health in both mind and body and can help maintain a balance to help with our sleep and stress levels as well.
When you are outside be sure to be aware of your environment, so leave the headphones at home, and listen to the sounds of the birds. Feel the breeze, and notice the trees, the animals, and whatever is there for you to connect with.
Take time to connect with you. Meditation can help in keeping you clear and balanced in both your mind and body. It has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. Make the time in your busy life to have a practice of connecting with you.

This can be for 10 minutes 15, to an hour a day. Whether it is in the morning, middle of the day or night-time, whichever time works best for you. It’s not about the quantity of time, it’s about the connection you make. The more you make the time for yourself in this way, the more the benefits your mind and body will receive.

Do things that help you feel positive and make you smile. At least once twice a week, give yourself time to do something that makes you smile, or makes you laugh and allows you play. Whether it is creating something, taking a dance class, going to lunch or dinner with a friend that is like minded, with someone who it feels good to be around and really enjoy the time with.

When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a great positive exercise is on a piece of paper writing your name vertically down the paper. Write both your first and last name. The point of this exercise is for each letter in your name is to write something positive about yourself.

An example would be the name Jim.

J – Joyful and joking
I – Intelligent
M – Mindful

What this does is switch your mind to positive thoughts, and the words are raising the vibration of your energy.
Also, limit consumption of media you listen to or read on your electronic devices. The news is always literally in our vision and is everywhere our world today whether it is your intention or not.

News is rarely positive, so all of the information that you read, watch and listen to is absorbed into your mind and body. Information is energy. A lot of our news creates fear, anger, shock, violence, and is very graphic of what is happening in our world today, and can have a deep effect on your body, mind and nervous system.

In this season, being made aware of global happenings is important, however try limiting consumption of media to no more than 10 minutes per day or every other day. It’s usually all the same information over and over again so you won’t miss anything – and never before bed or evening.

Instead listen to uplifting information such as podcasts or audiobooks that inspire you. Where you can learn something new or widen your scope of insight to many things or subjects, and areas that you have a curiosity about and that interest you.

Some other tools to help are the belly breath. Belly breathing can put you into a very calm and balanced state quickly. What it does is begin to bring all that energy and blood flow that has risen to your head, neck and shoulders, back into your belly letting it flow through your internal organs.

The belly is your power, not your mind, and what happens when you are under stress your organs and muscles start to tighten and constrict, so the energy and blood flow starts to rise into the chest, the shoulders and the head, and we forget how to breathe. The belly breath allows the natural flow of energy and blood to flow through the body and organs to recreate the natural balance, physically, emotionally and mentally.

When you breathe, breathe from your lower abdomen. When you inhale, feel your belly rise and when you exhale, let your belly fall. Focus on the breath from the lower abdomen, you can place your hands on the belly to help with the focus.

You can also use visualization. Imagine a candle inside of your physical center, your belly and keep watching the flame with each breath. Or you can visualize a nose in the small of your back, and breathe in from the nose as you raise the belly, and then exhale.

Another visual is imagining your belly as a balloon and as you inhale the balloon inflates and as you exhale feel the belly and balloon deflate. Another is mantras with the belly breath.

Mantras can help you clear your mind of your thoughts, and get your body and mind into a relaxed state. Here are a few examples:

  • Within me is a peacefulness, that cannot be disturbed
  • Breathing in, I calm my body, breathing out, I smile
  • This too shall pass, and I will be OK
  • All is well in my world, and I am safe

Using the breath with the mantras can bring your mind back into the body. It’s a good focus tool. As you inhale, raise your belly up, and in your mind, not only say but allow yourself to feel the words, “Within me is a peacefulness,” then when you exhale, say and feel the words, “That cannot be disturbed.”

You are not only saying the mantra, but you are communicating with your body that it’s true. You can also use a deep breathing exercise.

Slowly inhale filling your belly first and then up to your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of five, and then slowly exhaling to a count of five, and repeat several times. Allow yourself to feel the tension leave your body.

Visualization is very powerful, and you can move stress through your body with it. When you are in the shower in the morning, imagine the water as a waterfall running over and through your body, and feel the waterfall begin to release the stress and tension in your body, feeling it leave through your toes and then down the drain.

Water is a very powerful visual for cleansing and clearing all that we no longer need or no longer serves us. There is also a water visual you can do throughout your daily life, whether at home or at work, and that is to place your hands and wrists underneath a faucet, and feel the water as it moves over your wrists, hands, and finger.

Close your eyes and visualize whatever you are feeling whatever stress you have in your body or emotions and imagine it leaving down the drain. This visualization will help you move stress and emotions through the body so you no longer hold them. Water is very clearing and cleansing and calming, so the visual of it is powerful.

I hope some of these tools were helpful for you and remember anything that is stressful in your life now will pass, and you will be OK. Take care and have a beautiful day.

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