Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious about the state of the world? We feel you!
Living in ‘fight-or-flight’ mode can affect our entire physiology. In times of crisis, it is super important to make time to rest and nourish our bodies, but it is often the last thing on our mind and, for many, not a luxury that is available.
All healing occurs in a parasympathetic state (this includes healthy digestion, detoxification, and cellular regeneration) so it is super important to find tools to turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, and pump the brakes on anxiety, overwhelm and stress.
Daily Tools to Support You
With so many of us living in a state of fight-or-flight on the daily right now, we wanted to offer some tips to help you regulate your nervous system:
1. Breathing Practices
When we engage in deep and rhythmic breathing, we activate the vagus nerve, turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, and pump the brakes on anxiety and stress.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the best place to start, and involves taking deep, slow breaths from the bottom of the abdomen and filling up your lungs with each inhalation:
- Start by exhaling all of the air out of your lungs.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
- Begin to inhale through your nose, and as you do, feel the hand on your belly move outward. Your belly (lungs) should be expanding.
- Now, exhale out of your mouth. As you do, feel your belly retract back toward your spine and relax. The hand on your chest should not move.
Another simple practice to try is the box breath (also known as Sama Vritti) – a technique that the Navy Seals use to relieve anxiety in highly stressful situations:
- Close your eyes⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Retain your Inhale for 4 counts⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Exhale for 4 counts⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Retain your exhale for 4 counts⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Inhale for 4 counts⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Repeat as many times as you like – at least 4 rounds recommended)
Exercise is one of the best ways to remedy anxiety, both in the short and long term. Whatever your jam, whether it’s walking, yoga, dancing, Mana Kai, running, swimming (insert your fave activity here), movement can take your focus away from your worries whilst also releasing muscle tension.
Regular exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals in the brain, which builds up your ability to deal with all emotions. It also boosts your confidence and your mood.
3. Get Into Nature
Studies show that time in nature — as long as you feel safe — is an antidote for stress and anxiety.
It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood.
Take as little as 5 minutes to connect with nature – become really aware of what you see, hear, touch and smell – and the anxious thought patterns will start to fade away.
If you can’t get into nature, sit on the ground with your back against a wall / couch and your legs out straight in front of you. Feel your body grounding down into the earth.
4. Meditation + Visualisation
Meditation helps you to quieten the mind and lessen the chaos by anchoring you the present.
If your mind is frantic and you’re feeling overwhelmed, start by taking a few deep breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Feel the rising sensation as you breathe in, the falling sensation as you breathe out.
Now focus your attention on the physical sensation of being grounded, feel yourself connected to the earth. When thoughts arise, come back to that sensation. Stepping out of the mind, and focusing on being present in the body. Try this for 5 minutes + you’ll start to notice a shift. If you’re struggling to sit, try a walking meditation in nature.