COVID-19 and Beyond, The BBN Method - Part 3 Stress Management

Stress and the stress response is a normal part of life. In the correct amount, stressors can actually help the body become more resilient and stronger. Take working out for example.

Lifting weights stress the muscles which respond by repairing and rebuilding themselves to be even heartier. This process is meant to short-lived and the body resumes normal function.

When we are chronically stressed, the body diverts energy away from organs and critical function like digestion, reproduction, sleep, blood flow, immunity and rationale thought. You may have noticed that you have trouble sleeping or a funny stomach on days you feel stress. The body doesn’t care what the stressor is, it will always react by directing energy to run and fight rather than resting and digesting.  Helping your body to ease back into the rest and digest phase will allow it to heal, deepen sleep, improve digestion and produce a state of calm.

What you can do right now:

1) Meditate. I know it can be hard to jump in but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I promise! I like a free app called Journey Live. You can download it to your phone and choose from several live free meditations every day.

2)Do breathing exercises. These are free and easy to do. All you need are your lungs and fingers so you can do this anywhere at any time. Here’s how:

Sit comfortably in a chair or on a floor cushion in lotus position with your legs crossed. Before you begin, blow your nose if you like.            

Begin: Left hand remains on your left knee. Exhale from your nose.                     

*Place your right thumb on your right nostril to close it off and breath in through your left nostril deeply.                                           

*Place your right-hand ring finger over your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril.                                                   

*Without changing hand position, breathe in through your right side. *Release left nostril and place thumb back over right side exhaling.

*Continue with eyes closed for 5 minutes to refresh your mind and help the nervous system to become quiet and still.

3)Get a Heartmath Inner-Balance. This is a product that I use myself and absolutely love. Once you download the app and order your device, simply clip it onto your ear and match your breathing to the pace the app sets. Your inner stress levels will be reflected in your heart rhythms which are monitored by the device. You will receive simple prompts to help your body find balance and a state of coherence. 3-5 minute sessions several times per day over time are shown to help your nervous system reset, change heart rhythm patterns and change your outlook on the world.

4)Do a walking meditation. This is especially good for right now since we are all at home and more sedentary than usual. You can do this in a small area by basically walking in circles or around your apartment or you can do it outside in a large area. Once you get used to this you will be able to do it while walking down the street and even while at work (yes we will all be back at work and in the streets at some point!) Here’s how:

Stand straight allowing both feet to firmly plant on the ground. Take a moment to feel the bottoms of your feet supported by the earth as both feet equally press into the ground supporting your weight. Take a few deep breaths to center your mind and bring your awareness to the moment. Gently clasp your hands at the back of your body. Now start stepping by lifting your right foot into the air bringing it down in a rolling motion, heel, then middle foot and then toes. As your right toes plant, feel your left heal begin to lift up, then middle foot and then toes bringing your foot forward and down again in a rolling motion heel, middle foot and then toes. In the beginning, you may be tempted to go quickly especially if you are used to doing many things and running around. There is no destination, only the path that matters. Slow your pace, slow your breathing concentrating on your stepping, evenly dispersing your weight across your feet as they roll up and then down across the ground. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath and the sensation of your feet on the ground. As you practice you will be able to go slower and slower until you don’t travel around much at all. Your nervous system will become relaxed and calm as you settle into this slower pace. Don’t worry if you can’t tolerate going slowly in the beginning. Your body will be able to do this as your mind becomes still with practice.

5)Yoga! Pretty much every yoga studio is offering live classes streamed via Zoom right now. If you don’t have a studio you like, I can recommend my favorite classes held at 10am every morning by Kara of Houseofwellnessny.com.  She blends a good dose of healing with humor. She also recently launched a free YouTube channel which is worth checking out called Kara Yoga.

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