I talked a bit about self-care last week and I wanted to continue our conversation about ways to beat stress and anxiety. If anything, I’ll be needing them more in the near future….. Why you may be wondering? Well, our family is about to get a bit more chaotic since we’re expecting another little one in January! We’re so incredibly excited and can’t wait to find out the gender of this sweet baby in a few short weeks.
But since our first child was an easy one (though the terrible two’s are certainly here 😁), my husband and I are gearing up to be a bit more stressed with baby #2, better safe than sorry 😉. Hence the need for stress relieving techniques!
One of my favorite ways to relieve stress is by meditating, simply because it can be done anywhere and you don’t need any fancy equipment or another person to help you.
This week, I tried meditation in the evenings after I put my little one to sleep. It not only helped to get my body relaxed and ready to sleep, but also helped clear my mind. I don’t know about you but I’ve always been a night-worrier. I can lay in bed for HOURS thinking about everything I need to do, or worrying about what I should have done. I need to be exhausted or on vacation to fall asleep quickly. But when I meditate (usually in the evenings) I find I can control my thoughts and let go of the constant commentary in my head. Who knew a mind could be so chatty…
Onto how do this! Many people think meditation requires all sorts of gear, body and attention control, or extended amounts of time. Don’t be fooled, meditation is incredibly easy and here’s how:
1. Location, location, location: You don’t necessarily need a quiet place, I’ve meditated on my way to school while riding the chaotic NYC subway. Ideally, however, you obviously want to be in a place where you won’t be bothered. This means no little kids pulling on your hair or even whispering “mommy, mommy!”. Perhaps leave this activity for when your kiddos are napping, BUT if you have older kids that can sit still you should definitely try it with them! Bonus for you to have a few minutes of peace, and bonus for them to start practicing how to clear their mind in a world of constant stimulation.
2. Length: Speaking of timing, I’d recommend starting out with 5-10 minutes. It’s short, simple, and gets you in the habit of finding time for yourself. You can later increase the time as you see fit, but they key here is to be consistent as a few times meditating won’t have any long-lasting effects. We’re talking about teaching our brains how to focus and control run-away thoughts, the more we practice, the better we get at it (as with everything else in life).
3. Get comfy: Find a comfortable position to sit in. A large amount of people like the lotus position, but I know this can sometimes be hard on knees (mine included), so its fine if you just sit on a chair or couch, or even lie down. Lengthen your spine and place your arms where you find that they are most relaxed- try just pacing them on your lap.
4. Eyes closed: Begin by closing your eyes and taking deep breaths that come from your belly and make your chest rise and fall noticeably more than your usual breathing. You’ve heard this I’m sure, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth to get a flow of oxygen through your body. I like to take at least the first couple of minutes to just focus on my breathing , which also helps to focus my mind and senses on the now.
5. Keep breathing: Some people find that counting their breaths helps them to focus, others find that it’s distracting. You do you. Keep breathing and become aware of how each breath moves your body. Does it make your shoulders tingle? Your stomach expand? Your neck lengthen?
6. Now what? At this point, your mind may begin to wander, and that’s ok! Simply guide it back to your breathing. Other meditation techniques include repeating a mantra (think “Om”), or a positive phrase (“I am relaxed, “I am at peace”, “I am enough”, “it’s a beautiful day”, etc) to continue helping your mind to stay in focus. Continue until your time is up. At the end, I love taking a deep breath and taking note of how relaxed I feel (it helps me to remember why I meditate)
This is the simplest form of meditation. Others find that they meditate to focus their mind on specific questions or dilemmas they have and find solutions. Either way, meditation not only helps you to reduce stress and anxiety, but can also increase your patience, find spiritual peace, and help you better be able to live in the moment- the latter which can be difficult to achieve in a world of constant social media sharing. All of these sound like exceptional benefits for 10 minutes of your time, right?
I’ll be sharing another stress-reliever next week, but I have a feeling I’ll keep coming back to meditation as my go-to form of stress relief. Let us know of any other techniques you’ve tried!