Archive for Self Care for Busy Professionals
One of my mentors, Gabrielle Roth, said, “Movement is medicine… a dynamic way to free the body, to express the heart, and to clear the mind.” I couldn’t agree more. Often when I have been feeling lethargic or in a non-creative, non-resourceful place, the simple act of going for a walk has changed my perspective and renewed my energy and enthusiasm.
However, even better is when I dance.
I don’t worry about the steps, or what I look like. I just put on some music, often I will even close my eyes, and surrender to whatever movements my body is inspired to make.
Sometimes I start very slowly and tentatively, listening to my body as it gradually unravels from the demands of the day.
At other times my body is drawn to make large, bold, circular movements, or short, percussive, dynamic jabs. I may start “loud” and then melt into the stillness.
Every day is different, but the results are the same. After a short “movement break” my energy is revitalized and by mind is refreshed.
So, the next time you are feeling out-of-sorts, I invite you to put on your favorite music and dance around to it. Don’t worry about feeling awkward. As the wonderful choreographer Twyla Tharp said, “Get over yourself!”
In fact, you could even try it NOW. Go on, give it a whirl. Find your favorite dancing music and rock out!
If you are in a public place (like at work) imagine yourself dancing wildly. It’s almost as good.
And if you need some additional inspiration, here is a great video to get you going.
There is an amazing connection between physical movement and the brain. In fact, in The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge wrote, “Nothing speeds brain atrophy more than being immobilized in the same environment.”
So the next time you are feeling stuck or just stressed out…. get up, dance around, go for a walk, just move. You’ll feel better for it.
So we tend to cut down on the activities that fuel and nourish us, in an effort to “get more done”.
Unfortunately that means that we are often running on empty. It’s no wonder we get so stressed out at the holidays.
So here are some practical activities that you may have been tempted to reduce or eliminate for the next few weeks. However, not only will they actually help you reduce stress in your life during the busy holiday season, but the renewed energy you get might even help you get more done!
Without a doubt, some form of physical exercise is a great way to break the stress cycle. Exercise pumps up your endorphins (feel-good hormones) and decreases your stress hormones. It also reduces chronic muscle tension, helps you sleep better, and decreases anxiety.
Exercise is also a natural way to increase your energy level, alertness, and concentration. But that’s just the beginning…
In addition to simply increasing blood flow, and hence oxygen to the brain, we now know that physical activity actually helps create new brain cells or neurons, and helps them connect better with other nerve cells. In other words, exercise is a powerful way to help you rewire your brain for greater health, focus, creativity and maybe even intelligence. So during this holiday season, do make sure you get plenty of exercise. You’ll feel better for it.
Dance is also a powerful stress reducer, especially learning new moves, which can be both physically and mentally challenging.
And if you guys think that manly men don’t dance, think again. According to Psychologies magazine, Dr. Peter Lovett, a psychologist specializing in performance at the University of Hertfordshire in England, recently examined how women respond to men’s dance moves at nightclubs.
He discovered that shufflers (those who simply shuffle from foot to foot) were rated lowest in terms of masculinity and attractiveness, while those who incorporated the occasional unexpected movement were “eye-catching and appeared more in control.”
So who says manly men don’t dance!
So at that next holiday party, break out the dancing shoes and don’t hold back 🙂
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are also powerful ways to decrease stress and increase energy (not to mention overall enthusiasm for life). Both of these practices incorporate controlled breathing, increased blood flow, hand-eye coordination, and complete body-mind awareness.
I love my regular Pilates classes for the unique combination of strength building and flexibility. Even after a hard workout I leave feeling so refreshed and ready for whatever life brings my way.
Then, after all of that activity you will have earned a massage. Getting a relaxing, therapeutic massage is one of my favorite ways to interrupt the stress cycle and to rejuvenate. OK, so I will admit that I am a massage junkie. I’ve rarely met a massage I didn’t like.
For me, massage reminds the muscles of what it feels like to relax and let go. And when the body lets go, the mind does too. And always, a rested mind is more resilient and operates with greater clarity.
So there you have it – Part One of my holiday de-stressors. Do these things and you will have more energy and enthusiasm during the holidays and beyond.
So what are your most effective ways to stay sane during the holidays? What helps you stay calm and relaxed so that you can enjoy all that the season has to offer? Please leave your comments and ideas below 🙂
You still have five hours to go in your work day and already you feel spent. A co-worker is driving you crazy. You are behind on your reports. You have to learn new computer software yesterday. You haven’t been getting enough sleep and the lack it is making your brain foggy. So you grab that third cup of coffee and the sugar donut with the sprinkles on top.
Adrenaline is a stress-triggered hormone released by the adrenal glands, and in and of itself it’s not a bad thing. In the short-term it helps our brains stay alert and our bodies active so we can get stuff done. But over time, relying purely on adrenaline as our energy source makes us more tired and even more stressed out. And it can make you sick.
Allow me to share with you twelve activities that will not only reduce stress in your life, but will also help you break the adrenaline habit.
Physical Exercise: Without a doubt, some form of physical exercise is a great way to break the stress cycle. Exercise pumps up your endorphins (feel-good hormones) and decreases your stress hormones. It also reduces chronic muscle tension, helps you sleep better, and decreases anxiety. Exercise is also a natural way to increase your energy level, alertness, and concentration.
Dance: Dance is also a powerful stress reducer, especially learning new moves, which can be both physically and mentally challenging. In fact, many schools in the United Kingdom now teach ballroom and Latin dance because of the positive effect it has on the children’s learning abilities and behavior.
Yoga and Pilates: Yoga and Pilates are also effective ways to decrease stress and increase energy, feelings of self-worth, and overall enthusiasm for life. Both of these practices incorporate controlled breathing, increased blood flow, hand-eye coordination, and complete body-mind awareness.
Massage: One of my favorite ways to interrupt the stress cycle is to get a relaxing, therapeutic massage. It reminds the body of what it feels like to let go. And when the body lets go, the mind does too. A rested mind is more resilient and operates with greater clarity.
Stretch: If you are sitting for extended periods of time, particularly at a computer, a few stretches can revitalize and energize you.
Baths: When you get home from work, take a long, hot bath, especially with fragrant aromatherapy oils. In addition to being very physically relaxing, it’s also a great way to shed the concerns of your day.
Walk: If you get a chance during your day or evening take a walk in the fresh air (in sunshine is even better). Even a short walk can rejuvenate your mood.
Be in Nature: Any time you spend in nature can be calming, healing, and uplifting. It is one of the best ways to renew yourself. So take an occasional trip to the ocean, or the mountains, or to your favorite lake or river. Perhaps you prefer the coolness of the forest, or the fragrance of the desert. And when was the last time you stared at the stars on a crystal clear night? If you can’t actually get out into nature at least surround yourself with flowers and plants indoors.
Listen to Music: Listening to beautiful, calming, energizing, or uplifting music is powerful. In fact, studies show that listening to Mozart in the background can help with concentration. This is called “The Mozart Effect.” Try it sometime.
Fan the Fire: Watching controlled firelight is so relaxing. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace at home that is wonderful. Take some time to just sit and stare into the flames. If not, then light a candle and enjoy it’s flickering light. It can be mesmerizing.
Turn to Your Friends: No matter how busy life becomes, don’t forget to schedule regular time to get together with friends and just have fun. Friends are not always one-size-fits-all. Sometimes you need to get specific about the type of support you need as well as who may be best to provide it.
Meditate: Another way to relax and still an overactive mind is to practice some form of meditation, or even just do some deep breathing with awareness. Here is a simple breathing exercise for you to do.
So here are twelve ways to break the stress and adrenaline habit, and at the same rejuvenate yourself. Which one is your favorite? Please leave a comment and let me know.