Ease stress and anxiety at home.
In life it sometimes feels like our top two super villains are stress and anxiety. Why can’t they just leave us alone? As you know, the less you let them get to you the healthier you are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. So defeating these negative emotions by looking at how they affect you as a whole is a wise battle plan.
Meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and connecting with your emotions are some of your best allies. Here’s how they can help you become more calm and relaxed to restore your well-being.
Confronting stress head on may sound a bit masochistic; but according to Igor Vasilevitsky, a holistic counsellor and founder of Australia-based Holistic Life Counselling, it’s an effective way to eradicate its root causes. He allows the negative feelings to arise in his body rather than push them away. And the pay off is that the unfolding process releases the stored baggage (which triggers stress) we’ve been hauling around. Given that we tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain, this takes practice and can be uncomfortable or feel strange at first.
You never really escape your true emotions by distracting yourself with work, venting to friends or hitting the booze because “our subconscious will continue to knock on the door, with ever-increasing urgency through stress on the mental, emotional and finally, physical levels,” says Vasilevitsky. “Instead of running, we can stop, face and slowly begin to listen to these calls for attention, allowing the natural healing that is always trying to take place, to unfold.”
He recommends asking the tough questions like “What must I believe about this situation to feel this way?” For instance, when a relationship ends, we experience stress in the form of frustration or anger. But by staying connected and present with this feeling, Vasilevitsky says, we may figure out that the end of a relationship is associated with loneliness, a revelation which causes sadness and grief. “This is the process of delving into the wound beneath the Band- Aid. And by fully feeling, and perhaps crying, we allow ourselves to process through and heal this issue.”
The therapeutic and balancing effects yoga has on the body and mind abound. “When we worry or are anxious, it is usually about something that has happened in the past, or what the future will bring,” says Deb Taylor, a life, wellness and sports coach, yoga teacher and founder of Melbourne website Inspiring Minds Nurturing Bodies (www.inspiringminds-nurturingbodies.net). “When we live each day and focus on the moment, it takes a lot of the anxiety away – and yoga teaches the mind to become more in the now.”
To alleviate stress, Taylor recommends the relaxing and restorative half-tortoise pose (ardha-kurmasana), one of two postures in the Bikram Yoga series that can be practised outside the studio. She recommends to start by sitting on your heels with your knees and feet together. Next, lift and straighten your arms above your head and ensure your elbows are locked. Then put your palms together, cross your thumbs, stretch your arms as high as you can and inhale fully.
“On the exhale, suck in your stomach and bend forward slowly, keeping your body in one straight line from your tailbone to fingertips, until the edges of your little fingers touch the floor,” Taylor says. “At the same time, bring your forehead to the floor and rest it there, and keep your hips down on your heels – don’t lift the body off them.”
Ensure your elbows are locked, wrists and arms are straight and eyes are open. Keep reaching your arms forward and remain like this for 20 seconds while breathing deeply. Finally, slowly come up in the same way you went down, in a straight line and with your back straight and stomach sucked in. Then repeat one more time.
Would you believe that an effective way of coping with a range of emotional and physical issues has been right under your nose all along? It is through essential oils and aromatherapy. “As you inhale an essential oil, those aromatic molecules travel to the olfactory bulbs, which are linked directly to the emotional (limbic) seat of the brain,” Matt Hall author of Essential Oils for Men: Aromatherapy Solutions for Men’s Health says on how inhalation can have an immediate emotional impact.
Nature gives us clues on which oils are ideal for certain problems. For example, citrus fruits grow high up in the trees, and this is indicative of its uplifting, invigorating effect. Hall recommends oils that come from trees or wood to help with anxiety or mental fog. “Trees dig their roots deep into the ground and offer a more stable environment for the tree to grow tall,” Hall says. “Using essential oils like cedar wood, vetiver (a long grass native to India) or sandalwood can promote feelings of being grounded, secure, safe and peaceful.”
“When we live each day and focus on the moment, it takes a lot of the anxiety away” ~ Deb Taylor