We are all unique beings on this planet and although we have different temperaments we have some similarities in the way we react to stress. There are basic universal responses to stress such as increased breathing rate, sweating, negative emotions of anger, sadness, shame, guilt, jealousy, disgust and contempt. There can be also a desire to move, run away, fight or pretend nothing has happened.
I personally find it hard to live a stress-free life as I experience the majority of these reactions. The difference is that I have managed to learn how to control them (well, it just took me over 10 years to do that!)
Here I would like to share my favourite 5 tools that I use to combat stress, anxiety and worry.
I have created a video to showcase them to you, as visually it may be easier to grasp them.
TRICK 1: Lazy Tongue
To help your parasympathetic system to start working and calming you down, you need to drastically change your physiology to send a signal to the amygdala (a part of the brain that gets activated under stress) to relax. You can do it by simply opening your jaw and making your tongue lay flat down. It should feel like a lazy tongue (hence the name!).
I find this exercise very helpful to change the mood as well. Once I get to practice and look myself in a mirror, I start laughing and get out of the worry or anxiety zone.
It’s a simple but powerful trick for your mind.
TRICK 2: Willing Hands
When we get stressed, we generally tighten up our body muscles (e.g. shoulders, hands and legs). Evolutionary it was useful as it allowed for readiness in case of fighting or fleeing. Nowadays, it’s just a bi-product of evolution as we don’t need to get tense. We can be better of relaxing and enjoying life on a higher level, with more positive emotions and more effective mindset.
‘Willing hands’ is a tool to become aware of your hands and open them with palms facing up, putting them either on your lap or stretching them along with your body if you are standing. Relax your fingers, hands should not be too strained. They are only ‘willing to help’. Having more relaxed hands (like in a yoga position of doing mudras) is a great way to trick your sympathetic nervous system into being off-guard, so there is no stress needed and the body starts melting into a relaxation state.
TRICK 3: Clock-foot
This is a great one if you have to sit for a long time or work at your desk. Put your right leg on top of the left one by crossing knees as you are sitting. It’s a classical cross-legged position where you have your right foot in the air. Start rotating your right foot clockwise but very-very slowly. At first, it may appear to be difficult to control the speed as under stress most people would have a tendency to rotate it at a much faster speed.
Keep controlling the speed and rotate 21 times, very slowly your right foot. If you have time for another round, change legs and do one more on the opposite leg, anti-clockwise.
TRICK 4: Sunshine Face
Try it even as an experiment. Look up, smile, open your shoulders and breathe. Imagine it was a sunny day and you wanted to get as much sunlight as possible to fuel your positivity battery. This trick I’ve used again and again in trainings and workshops. I challenged people to experience sadness or worry doing that. Noone ‘on my watch’ could do that. This physiological position is hardwired into our brain as a positive one. I’d love to hear from you how it helps you change your emotional state.
TRICK 5: Peaceful Giant
Imagine you were a huge statue, a giant of about 1000m tall, looking on the Earth and seeing people walking around, while you stand still and peaceful protecting the place for others. You are so powerful and mighty, so kind and blissful, that you can feel this expanded energy even as you imagine this in your head. Isn’t this magical?
Here are my favourite 5.
I would love to hear from you. How was it to do them? Try them under stress and please let me know how it helps you with your anxiety or worry. I’m collecting feedback for my psychological research and I would really appreciate if you could get in touch with me by writing to email@example.com or join the Facebook Psychology of Human Enrichment group.
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