Bringing Balance and Presence During Stressful Times

It can be hard to find the time to go for a hike, join a yoga class, or enroll in a meditation course. Many lives nowadays are jammed packed and over scheduled, leaving little time to de-stress and nurture ourselves. You are not alone. Many people experience stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, especially during stressful times. Oftentimes when we are experiencing anxiety we are focused on the past or imagining outcomes in the future.

 

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Mindful practices support you to bring you back to the present moment, reducing symptoms of anxiety and supporting your body and mind to release tension and stress. 

Incorporate Daily Practices

Here are some helpful practices you can incorporate into your day that you won’t have to schedule in. These can be done sitting at your desk, on your lunch break, during your daily commute, or in the morning while you are getting ready for your day. Each practice is 5 minutes or less, and none of them require you to adjust your schedule. These practices can be incorporated into your day where you see fit. The de-stressing practices will help bring you back to the present moment, reground, recenter, and re-balance.

 

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8 Helpful Practices

  1. Name 3 colors in a room: When you notice your stress levels increase, take a moment to stop, breathe, and name 3 colors you see in the room. This practice will help bring you back into the present by bringing you in the here and now.
  2. Notice where your feet are: Place both feet on the floor, spread apart. Take a moment to feel the ground beneath you by pressing your feet against the floor. Notice the chair supporting you if you are sitting. This practice can be done sitting or standing, during a meeting, sitting at your desk, or even riding the bus. Grounding exercises helps to alleviate stress and anxiety by rebalancing energy, moving upward energy down allowing more spacious breath and relief. 
  3. Mindful walking: While walking to this bus stop, or walking from the bathroom back to your desk focus your energy on which foot you are moving. Say to yourself – left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. This practice will help to bring you back to the present moment, providing a moment with ease and you lessen your overwhelm by focusing on the moment rather than what meeting is next or an upcoming deadline. 
  4. Mindfully get dressed in the morning: In the mornings pay attention to the order you get dressed. Notice if you are putting on your right sock first, or your left. Did you put your left arm through your shirt and then your right? Which shoe did you tie first? This practice will bring you back to the present moment and wont take any additional time out of your day. Try it with one garment of clothing, and the next day add another garment if you would like. You can gradually increase this practice as you mindful prepare for your day.
  5. Exhale longer than you inhale: During times of stress or anxiety, focus on your breath. Double your exhale. If you inhale for 3 counts, exhale for 6 counts. If you inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 8 counts. Notice your breath while packing your lunch, walking to your car, or checking your upcoming appointments. Try to remember to breathe. 
  6. Digital Detox: Give yourself breaks from your devices. When taking a break at work, leave your phone on your desk or in your purse for 5 minutes. When riding the bus, try to not take your phone out for 5 minutes or for 5 bus stops. Our devices can be overstimulating, taking small breaks can decrease anxiety and stress levels.
  7. Wear calming colors: Colors have vibrations and impact how we feel. During times of stress and anxiety choose calming colors like light blues, warm hues, and soft comfortable materials. These soft materials also serve as a tactile function, supporting regulation in times of stress and anxiety.
  8. Stretching: Take a moment to touch your toes, this can be done sitting or standing. This practice will give yourself a moment to balance yourself. We can hold stress in our bodies, this will allow our bodies some relief and ease tension. 

Be gentle with yourself during times of stress. Use these helpful practices as a toolbox you can pick and choose and from where you see fit. Try to remember what has worked in the past, and try it again.

 

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About the Author

Sara Levey is an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) at Well Clinic in San Francisco. In her words, “By creating a safe, contained, relational space healing and shifts are able to occur.”

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