We’ve all heard of yoga and meditation (bit of a given if you’re here on my blog) but for those who are looking for something a little different to help them through periods of stress and worry, I’ve got you!
Below are my 5 favourite, slightly more esoteric, methods that I turn to when I’m feeling stressed/exhausted/worried/anxious etc. They all work by interrupting the stress response in the brain, which as I always go on about in classes and workshops – gets switched on waaaaay too often in our modern lives. With everything going on right now, it’s possible you’re feeling more stressed than usual and so may benefit from an extra tool in your toolkit to carry yourself through.
I’d love to hear which one you like best, so let me know how you get on!
1. Power Posing
For those of you who have been at my morning sessions on Instagram this week, you’ll know this one already. Developed by Harvard professor Amy Cuddy, this works from a fake-it-till-you-make-it perspective, as she discovered that your body language can shape both how you feel and behave. Simply put, we can improve our ability to cope with stress by taking a ‘high power’ posture – one in which you take up a lot of space (think, Wonder Woman or someone man-spreading on the tube). Hormones are involved, and wow does this work! Watch her TED talk for more guidance and amazing information on this crazy phenomenon.
People tell you to take a deep breath when you’re stressed for good reason – it works! However ideally you want to take that breath into your belly so that you hit the vegas nerve, which connects with the stress response in the brain and will signal to the brain that everything is okay. Try it here.
3. Cold Water Immersion
When I lived closer to Hampstead Heath (I actually grew up not to far from there) and memories of a lazy hot summer’s day spent picnicking on the grass and numerous swims in the pond are some of my favourites. However, I also used to go for a far less leisurely dip in October, when it’s windy and cold and you don’t really want to be there at all. Obviously, outdoor cold water swimming isn’t viable for most of us right now, so what I’ve been doing is turning the water to as cold as I can handle at the end of my morning shower. 30 seconds of freezing cold certainly sets me up for the day (maybe just as I think if I can handle that awfulness I can handle anything?) More information here.
4. Body Shaking
For those who come to my sessions often know that I push this remedy A LOT. It’s one of my favourite practices to start the day – especially now feeling so stuck inside my home all day! It’s wonderful for an achey body, and even better for a stressed and worried mind. Try it here.
5. Coping Visualisation
It’s not just our thoughts that contribute to how we perceive a situation; the images we create (both positive and negative) in our minds also play a BIG part. One of my most effective stress-management techniques I use with clients is visualisation to help them challenge the negative and/or catastrophic imagery and thoughts that plague them. There are five steps:
Crucially, don’t stress yourself out with the exercise itself – imagine ‘coping’ with the event, rather than ‘mastering’ it.
(Image Peter Gamlen New York Times)