Tips for beating anxiety and creating energy and calm

It’s impossible not to be feeling anxious at the moment. So I wanted to share my top well-being tips and techniques for creating energy and calm in the mind and body. The criteria I set myself was that they had to be free, require no ‘kit’ and be easy to do.

You don’t need to do all of them all the time, just find the ones that work for you then try and do those a few times a week. Small and often is better than big and never. I’ll keep adding to this list so share any favourites with me.

They’re in no particular order – although the first two are my personal favourites!

1.Breathe – Calm breaths puts the breaks on our anxiety. Invest the time to practise slow and steady breathing when you don’t need it so that when you do you’ve trained yourself to manage your natural stress response. Here’s a link to my favourite breathing techniques

2.Move – we all know that movement is great for body and mind. Understand your energy level and then pick a class, movement or activity that makes you feel good and nurtures your body. If you’re feeling full of beans then go for a run or dance round the house, feeling in need of a stretch then go with that but try to create time to move for at least 15 minutes a day every day

3.Eat well – eat a colourful plate, with sensible portions and eat mindfully rather than while distracted – not just to eat less but to actually enjoy every mouthful.

4.Affirmations – A positive short statement in the present tense that you repeat to yourself first thing in the morning loudly and proudly. It should focus your mind on a positive behaviour or mindset you want to create (usually countering one you don’t currently have) so for example: ‘I am happy’, ‘I am in control’ ‘ I will succeed’.

5.Gratitude – we’re programmed on a primal level to look out for danger and negativity to protect ourselves. A technique to reprogramme our minds to focus more on the positive is to take a few minutes out every day to reflect on the day we had looking only for small almost insignificant moments where actually we can find something to feel grateful for. A parking space, a smile from a stranger, a compliment etc.

6.Reframing – if you’re ruminating on something that has happened or might happen – strip out the emotion and look just at the facts. Become an observer – treat the scenario like you’re just a commentator going through the facts and see if you can find a different way to look at those facts minus the emotions.

7.Walks in nature – this works on many levels – you create energy, positive chemicals release, you’re exposed to Vitamin D, your problems feel insignificant around ancient trees and you absorb yourself in your environment not your mind

8.Journaling – not writing a diary but simply getting your thoughts out of your head. Unacknowledged thoughts way heavy on our minds. So pick up a piece of paper and get your thoughts out.

9.Watch the self-talk – ‘Talk to yourself like you would a friend’ is one of my favourite tips.

10.Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep – Create a routine, avoid bright light (can you brush your teeth with just the hall light on), avoid your screen and see if you can fit in a 30 second gratitude practise before bed.

11. Set yourself up for a good day – make your bed (you’ve achieved something before you’ve even left the bedroom), choose what you do wisely with those first few minutes that will set the tone for the day. Write down your goals before you look at your phone so you know what you want to achieve and then appreciate it when you do!

12.Connect – we are social creatures, nurture your connections friends, family and community – also helps to create a sense of belonging. Find time to talk and also listen. Hug (if it’s appropriate) physical contact also releases chemicals for the giver and receiver. Pets count too!

13.Get to know yourself and prioritise yourself – know what brings you energy and calm and protect this by setting boundaries and saying no. You’ll be more useful to everyone else if you prioritise you and your needs as well.

14.Give – reward chemicals are released when perform acts of kindness for others. You benefit, they benefit. It’s a win win.

15.Meditate/mindfulness – this doesn’t mean sitting still and shutting out all thoughts for an hour. You can meditate or be mindful through gentle or dynamic movement focusing on how your body feels and your breathe. It’s simply about being in the present moment in a state of awareness rather than worrying about the past or the future. If during your practise of mindfulness you do drift into your thoughts, come back to your breathe and remind yourself – ‘you can’t stop the waves but you can surf them’.

16.Have fun – make time for doing things that are simply being done for no other reason than to be fun.

#wellbeingtips #anxiety #toptips #calm #energy #breathe #wellbeing #zenergyactive

We need to relearn how to breathe

copy ofGiven each of us breathes roughly 23,000 times a day you’d assume we’d be pretty good at it. The fact is we’re not. And because of that we’re missing out on a raft of well-being benefits.

Research is proving that the simple act of breathing correctly benefits both our physical and mental well-being. Shallow breathing increases the heart rate and blood pressure pushing up our anxiety levels. Whereas steady, regulated, deep breaths are proven to switch you into the parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ nervous system allowing you to feel calm and think clearly.

This article from the BBC is states “scientists are finding that a particular frequency of breath – at around six exhalations a minute – can be especially restorative, triggering a “relaxation response” in the brain and body”. So that’s the equivalent of breathing in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds 10 times.

‘Breath work’ was a hot well-being topic at Live Well London – a well-being event I went to recently . I was lucky enough to attend a workshop by The Breath Guy – Richie Bostock (who is quoted in the BBC article). He specialises in working with corporates to help employees unlock energy, creativity and focus all through a variety of breathing techniques.

At the start of the session he asked us all to breath in through our mouth and as we breathed out to make an audible sigh. After just a few of these steady sighing breaths looped together my shoulders felt lower and my brain clearer. As Richie said ‘it’s not called a sigh of relief for nothing’.

The most powerful aspect of creating calm in this way is that it’s quick, simple and free. As Richie says ‘the answer is right under you nose’.

You can read the full BBC news article here: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200303-why-slowing-your-breathing-helps-you-relax

 

And here’s Richie Bostock’s details: https://www.thebreathguy.com/

The Breath Guy session – Live Well London

Mindfulness meditation: creating space away from ‘the weapons of mass distraction’

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If the thought of shutting down your busy mind to reap the many benefits associated with mindfulness meditation leaves you cold, Ruby Wax’s take on it may give you hope.

Ruby – the comedian and author – has a new book out called ‘How to Be Human’ that she wrote with a Buddhist Monk and a neuroscientist. This unusual triumvirate provide a scientific, spiritual and humorous perspective on what it is to be human in the 21st Century and why so many of us aren’t happy despite all the technological and societal advancements. Mindfulness meditation is a technique they all agree upon as an effective way to manage our overloaded self-sabotaging 21st Century minds.

Here’s a brief summary of their advice on how to do it:

‘Weapons of mass distraction’ – mindfulness meditation is about creating time and space to be fully in the present moment away from the many ‘weapons of mass distraction’ that don’t allow us to just be. The art of mindfulness meditation isn’t shutting out all thoughts in fact the opposite is true. It’s about how you handle the thoughts that come. By creating a calm mind and body you allow your thoughts to come and go, ebbing and flowing, as you acknowledge them but hold yourself back from pursuing them. Each time a thought tries to drag you down into the detail, you draw your mind back to the present moment and allow the next thought to present itself.

 

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You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf them – it’s this practise of creating detachment from the thoughts and simply accepting with curiosity and an open heart ie no judgment whatever feelings and thoughts float into your mind that is at the heart of mindfulness meditation. Each time we draw ourselves away from our thoughts and back into the present moment two things happen. Firstly we acknowledge our thoughts (unacknowledged thoughts way heavier on us than acknowledged ones) and secondly our neutral pathways strengthen with this practise to help us pull back from drowning in our own thoughts more easily every time.

 

So remember:

1. Don’t try to battle your mind when thoughts float up during mindful relaxation, acknowledge the thought and come back to your breath or back to the sensations in your body

2. Picture yourself surfing those thoughts whenever your mind is busy with thinking. You are not your thoughts – you’re simply surfing on top of them – aware but not necessarily acting

3. Unacknowledged thoughts weigh far heavier on your mind than acknowledged ones. Write them down, own them, then you decide which are helpful and need attention and which are unhelpful and can be dismissed. You’re the boss of you.

#howtobehuman #weaponsofmassdistraction #rubywax #mindfulness #mindfulnessmeditation #zenpilates #calmmind #breathe #youarenotyourthoughts #zenergyactive

‘Co-ordination of mind, body and spirit’, J Pilates

I’ve heard Pilates described as a ‘non-spiritual yoga’ which I believe does an injustice to Pilates (not just the exercise system but to the man and creator himself). It may not be spiritual in a mystical sense but it’s origins have a focus on one’s spirit or energy.

In 1945 Joseph Pilates published ‘Return to Life through Contrology’ – the original name for Pilates. At the start of the book he sets out his philosophy and it’s quite incredible how relevant the themes are to today’s society and how forward looking he was around the need for a holistic solution to address mental and physical well-being.

He talks passionately about the need to develop mind, body and spirit in order to thrive physically and mentally. He saw Pilates as a well-being approach to combat the mental pressures as well as the physical strain the increasingly fast paced living and desk based work were having on the population even back then.

His guidance to achieve ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ (a sane mind in a sound body) reads like a contemporary well-being article; quality sleep and diet, proper breathing, good posture, walks in nature, connecting with loved ones and daily Pilates exercise.

Rather than large muscles or weight loss, he promotes an exercise system that develops a body free from pain and flexible and strong enough to allow daily tasks and hobbies to be pursued with energy and zest. “Body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a co-ordinated whole..freed from nervous tension and over-fatigue is the ideal shelter for housing a well-balanced mind.‘

Before he introduces the exercises he ensures readers are clear that his exercises aren’t just about movement they are about a focus on breathing, blood flow, small as well as global muscles, mental concentration and control. Through this holistic approach the true benefits can be felt within the mind, body and spirit.

#josephpilates #pilatesprinciples #pilatesforwellbeing #zenergyactive #pilatesforlife #pilatesforenergy #holistic #wellbeing

What’s on your care label?

There are many great tips out there for helping you achieve happiness, the problem is not all of them work for everyone. You need a really thorough understanding of you to create a life and self-care rituals are meaningful.

The analogy we used in the Den this week was ‘What are your care instructions’? Just as clothing comes with a label explaining the fabric and how to take care of it – what would your care label say? What are the 5 instructions someone would need to know in order to take care of you to ensure you’re well taken care of inside and out? Then ask yourself, do you do them? What’s just a small action you could take towards taking better care of you? And on the flip side, what would be the instructions to prevent damage – and do you avoid those scenarios?

For most of us ‘exercise regularly’ will likely be on those care instructions, yet it’s often a neglected area. Experimenting with what that looks like for you and finding something you truly enjoy rather than ‘should do’ will make it stick. Finding Pilates was a revelation – a means to keep strong and supple without having to go to a gym for a hard core training session. But it’s different for everyone, the important part is knowing you and what you need to take care of you. #careinstructions #selfcare #selfunderstanding #wellbeing #pilates #zenergyactive