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Wellness in 2020
Nature has a way of calming your physical body, bringing peace to your busy mind, 
and filling your soul with the essence of the Universe.  Ah, nature...
you truly are my sanctuary.  
- Sandra Watson
 

 

Whether we are trying to manage the current crisis, or just deal with everyday stresses of a busy life, connecting with nature is an important piece of mental wellness.  Want proof?  According to Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Study, there is substantial evidence that immersion in nature benefits your health.  Just 120 minutes a week can have a profound effect on both short term and long-term health benefits. Whether getting out in nature is available to you or not, here are some simple ideas to lessen stress:

1.    Realize this is only a moment in time

a.    Sometimes we think that the current crisis we are in (whatever it is at any given time) will last forever – but it won’t.  When we get consumed with our bad situations and worry about them, then we start to become anxious and can’t seem to turn it off.  Anxiety and stress are very common emotions, and there are ways to help you get through these dark moments.  The first step, however, is simply recognizing that this is what you are going through – and then do something about it from there.

2.    Learn how to calm yourself

a.    Learning techniques to soothe yourself is really important.  Whether you worry constantly or whether you get panicked in certain situations, there are ways that you can help yourself by de-escalating your emotions.

                                              i.     Deep Breathe – you’ve heard about this one before – it’s so easy that there is no way you can get it wrong.  Sit straight in a chair or on the ground, with your hands in your lap. Take a deep breath in (counting to 4 in your mind), and then let it out slowly (counting to 4 in your mind).  Just concentrate on your breathing and try to take full breaths from your diaphragm.  Doing this out in nature enhances the effect, as you listen to the birds and the wind whistling through the leaves and trees. Don’t have a forest out your back door?  Even just sitting on your outside patio and listening to “sounds of nature” on your phone can be a welcome escape.  

                                             ii.     Relax Your Muscles – you may not realize that you are doing so, but when you are anxious you tighten your muscles.  To help, when you are sitting on the ground or straight in a chair (or even lying horizontal), concentrate on tightening one muscle group at a time…and then slowly letting them go while feeling the release.  Work through your whole body, top down: shoulders, torso, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  Hopefully by the time you reach your toes, you will feel more relaxed.

                                           iii.     Talk to Yourself – Sometimes we just have to talk our way out of our mind.  Just as you would to a small child that is struggling, say things to yourself such as “I am in control”, “I can calm myself down”, and “I know this is anxiety, but I know how to get rid of it” and “I’ll be okay; I’ve got this.”

3.     Do a check on your Diet – Eating a balanced diet helps with mood and emotional well-being.  Things like drinking too much caffeine or alcohol can do things like increase your blood pressure and make you irritable or agitated.  Keeping your body fed with healthy nutrients will help with decreasing anxiety. (importance of a well-balanced diet)

 

4.    Keep moving! – I hope we all know by now that exercise and physical activity – even for as little as 30 minutes a day – will release endorphins, causing calm feelings, reduction in stress, and an increase in energy.  At the very least, taking a walk around your block or taking a walk through a park will not only help your mood but help your body as well.  Can’t leave the house right now?  Check out some ways to de-stress at home - 51 Ways to De-Stress and Find Joy at Home.

5.    Consider taking up Yoga – long considered as a viable way to de-stress from everyday life.  Here are a couple resources for you to try.

 

a.    Check out some “how to” videos from Infinite Light Center’s Tony Riposa here

b.    Take your online learning to a deeper level with this article on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction which combines mindfulness meditation and yoga!

 

Whatever you decide you can do, just remember to make it a priority – for you and your health. 

| stressed spelled backwards is "desserts"

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