These days, we are stretched and pulled in many different directions; no wonder we often feel “stressed out,” tense, and pressured. We need to balance all that whirlwind activity with some time to unwind. Use the therapies below to help you bust stress & feel more energy. For a complete list, check out the Holistic Ways to Reduce Stress page
Art Therapy has shown to significantly reduce stress levels. Whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpture, or collage, this form of expression taps into your creative side, giving you an opportunity & space to process intense stressful emotions in a way that allows that energy to move through and out of your body & mind. There’s also a mindfulness aspect to art therapy that complements the self-expression element. A mind/body connection naturally occurs when people are "in the zone", fully engaged in a physical act of creation.
Music Therapy has shown that sound has profound effect on your body and psyche. Dancing & singing to your favorite tunes has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels by altering your physical and emotional landscape. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care that includes music in their therapy to help cancer patients, children with ADD etc. Even hospitals are beginning to use music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring. If you know how to play an insturment, great! If not, take a class or go to a live concert. You can also create a music playlist for on the go boost (or borrow mine) to spark your spirit, put a smile on your face & shift your mood & energy using upbeat high vibration beats
Gratitude Therapy has shown to significantly reduce stress levels, anxiety & depression. Being grateful has the ability to calm and soothe the amygdala, the part of the brain that sounds the stress alarm. It's mainly because your brain doesn't know the difference. No matter how stressful your life may seem, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for: a roof over your head, food in your belly, the endless love from your children etc. Sometimes we just need to step back to shift our perspective & realize how lucky we are. Gratitude, like happiness, is not a random feeling or emotion. It's an ACTION, a response that we can CHOOSE to cultivcate in any situation. It's not always easy to do, but we always have the choice to do it. And by filling your bucket with gratitude, there isn't room for the negative energy to come in: and once you change your world view, things begin to flow. Directions: Find any size glass jar (the bigger, the more you'll want to fill it), set it near your bedside table or somewhere visible along with a stack of post-its and a pen. Every day (consistency is key, because through repetition new neural pathways are formed) write at least 1-3 things you are grateful for today. And even if you had a horrible day, focus on the lessons you've learned from these experiences. For example: My dishwasher broke recently, the 6 things I was grateful for is: 1) saving on electricity 2) the opportunity to practice mindfulness while hand washing the dishes for two weeks 3) the invention of a dishwasher 4) deep appreciation & sympathy for previous generations who didn't have the privilege of having such an amazing appliance 5) the guy who came by to fix it 6) the warranty we had which saved us hundreds of dollars AND a new motor which will last us a while
Gardening has been shown to reduce the stress hormone due to its meditative properties. It offers you the quiet space for contemplation, provides a physical outlet for the tension we store in our bodies, exposes you to nature, sunlight & fresh air, which are proven mood boosters. Plus, nurturing something outside of ourselves shifts the focus away from self and this can be valuable in times of anxiety and stress. Besides, all the fresh produce you are going to harvest not only will make you feel proud and confident, but also nourish your body with the freshest produce. Start small with growing organic herbs like cilantro, parsley (full of vitamin C), dill, rosemary etc. in pots in sunny spots and then if you are feeling the sense of fulfillment and stress-reducing properties then dig up a whole garden in the ground.
The Surrender Box is an opportunity for you to "throw" in or surrender all of your problems, your burdens, decisions you are not sure about and let the universe handle the rest so you don't have to worry about it anymore. Whether you want to make it a physical shoe box or a mental box is up to you. I recommend to write out what stresses you on little post-it notes to 1) empty it out of your mind 2) to gain clarity & awareness of the stressors in your life. 3) to release it to the universe
Massage Therapy can be extremely therapeutic not only for the body, but for the mind. A massage can help relieve tense muscles, correct postural stress by increasing and improves circulation throughout the body. Massage therapy can also bring on the "relaxation response" by reducing the stress hormone cortisol production, while increasing the serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter known as the "happiness hormone") which helps ward off depression. And because cortisol is greatly reduced, your immune system isn't compromised to illness. Massage therapy can also increase delta brain waves for a deep and relaxing sleep.
Affirmation therapy can be a powerful tool to help you change your mood, state of mind, increase confidence & reduce stress. The best part it can be applied to self anytime, anywhere! An affirmation can work as it has the ability to program your mind into believing the stated concept. This is because the mind doesn't know the difference between what is real or fantasy. There are both positive and negative types of affirmations. A positive affirmation is a statement of confidence & self-love: "I trust my decisions and have faith in where I'm going". A negative affirmation is a statement many of you might have experienced as a child: "You can't do it, you are so clumsy, so fat, so rude etc." These negative statements can stay with us in the conscious or unconscious mind, which we then reinforce throughout our lives. So, it's IMPORTANT to fill ourselves with positive affirmations or mantras to re-wire our brain into believing what we thought was not possible before. Speak the affirmation that resonates most with you out loud a few times three times a day - morning, afternoon and evening. Our words and thoughts are composed of energy and therefore contain extremely potent power to alter our reality.
Meditation is an effective method to become aware of unconscious thought patterns, allowing you to live with more self-awareness & mindfulness. That first step of becoming aware is all you need to start to re-wire your brain from a stress-induced lifestyle to a more positive, calm & balances one. What people don't realize is you don't need a fancy set-up to start meditating, you can just stop, drop & meditate, that's it! You can sit or lie down anywhere, anytime you find yourself with a few minutes to spare, focusing on the breath & letting the thoughts go by like clouds in the sky. OMG I can meditate is a great meditation app to get you started. A daily practice of meditation helps us find the clarity and calm that is always there, just below the choppy surface of the mind when we are caught up in the hustle and bustle, in the busyness of our daily lives. Read about my personal journey of self-discovery through meditation & all its incredible benefits
The techniques of visualization and guided imagery can help to bring our minds and bodies into a better balance. Using our imaginations, we can visualize a place where we feel relaxed, such as the beach or a forest. That's a lot like daydreaming, giving our minds a peaceful & neutral anchor to rest on. You can built you visualization muscle on your own thinking of a serene place or use a guided imagery visualization. This meditation app has lots of different guided visualization meditations you can use. This type of a therapy helps lower anxiety, stress and blood pressure, reduces the severity of headaches and even strengthens immune functioning. After quieting body and mind, you can feel full of energy, relaxed & refreshed, ready to face the challenges ahead with easy & patience.