We all experience stress... the stressors from work, finances, health, relationships, and more all add up. It may not be possible to fully alleviate all the sources of stress in our life. What matters is how we react when faced with these stressors. Last year, I became aware that I had been pretty much living in a constant state of stress. Even in moments where there were no active stressors - I was still feeling the effects of constant underlying stress. This ongoing stress impacted my mental, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual wellbeing.
Fear-based and negative thoughts ran rampant through my mind. My body held tension in multiple areas - mostly in my jaw, neck, shoulders, back, and hips. My emotions fluctuated wildly as I reacted to various situations. I experienced disconnection and strain in several relationships. And I felt disconnected from my Source and my highest self, too.
I was trapped in my stress-based patterns - finding myself overly impatient, often agitated, and rarely able to relax. Living in this state was not only unhealthy, but was also a huge energy drain. Once I became aware how much I was letting stress impact my life, I knew I had to make some changes.
Wherever possible, I addressed the stressors/sources of stress first. Sometimes this meant closures, endings, and letting go. Other times, it meant having difficult conversations or taking other actions to lessen the impact of the stressor.
I worked with various professionals to help me address the physical tension in my body. I did a lot of writing in my journal to process my thoughts and my emotions. I re-invested in my spiritual practices. And I started to explore new modalities to help me unwind, relax, and restore.
I integrated a new restorative practice, which eventually helped me learn to relax my entire body. I'm not gonna lie - restorative was incredibly challenging for me at first. For busy bodies like me, it can be really hard to feel like you're lying there 'doing nothing.' My body still wanted to hold on to the tension out of habit. My mind wouldn't rest and I felt like I was wasting time.
But I kept returning to the mat. And with continued practice, I allowed myself to be completely supported by the floor and the various props (blankets, bolsters, and blocks) so I could come into complete relaxation. Eventually I came to cherish my restorative time. I fell so in love with it that I took an immersive class to learn how to teach it to others, too.
I have found restorative to be an important part of my personal and spiritual wellbeing practices. Not only am I learning to be more gentle and compassionate with myself, but I am also becoming more aware of what's happening in my mind and body and paying attention to the areas that need support and release.
Have you tried restorative? What's your experience been? What did you find challenging? How has it helped you?
I will be starting to schedule regular restorative classes in March and can't wait to share this practice with you.
In the meantime, if you need support in addressing the stressors in your life, reach out and let's schedule a discovery call to see how I can help you.
Creating restorative niches
Do you have a space in your home that's just yours? A place away from stimulation, distractions and stressors where you feel comforted and at peace? Having a personal sanctuary or restorative niche that nourishes you, relaxes you, and supports your needs is important for your overall sense of wellbeing.
What kinds of restorative niches might you need in your home? You might spend time in your space for solitude, stillness and quiet. Perhaps you read, meditate, write in your journal, or do yoga. Do you need a space to do your hobbies, pursue your leisure interests, or to create?
Not everyone has the ability to dedicate an entire room to a personal sanctuary.... and that's okay. You can work with whatever space you have available - even if only a closet or a corner. I invite you to reflect on the following questions, and then look at your home with fresh eyes. Bring a little creativity to the process of designing the restorative niches you need.
What kind of Sacred Space(s) do you need in your home?
What is the purpose of the space? How will you use it?
How you want to feel in your space? Creative? Inspired? Free? Relaxed? Peaceful?
Do you need one space or multiple spaces? For example, if you want a space to feel energized, inspired and creative, AND a space where you can feel relaxed and peaceful - might these need to be different spaces? Or can you create different 'zones' for each type of activity?
Can we talk about anger for a minute...? Anger gets a bad rap. But our goal should not be to never feel angry... Anger is a normal, valid human emotion; things happen and sometimes the very appropriate response is to get pissed. Having said that, we don't want to stay angry for too long. Anger is a low-frequency emotion and is incredibly depleting of our energy. In addition, festering anger may cause unhealthy or destructive reactions, may have a negative impact on our relationships, and may be detrimental to our health over time. Instead of repressing it, I've learned that it's healthier to acknowledge when I feel angry and find healthy ways process and release it so I can shift my energy.
Here are some recent techniques I've tried that have helped me release anger in healthy ways.
*Write in my journal about why I am feeling angry; include details about what happened, how the situation impacted me, and what I'm most angry about.
*Scream. As loud as I can.
*Sit in stillness and practice slow, deep breathing for 10 minutes, focusing on creating a sense of calm and ease.
*Physical activity/exercise. Go for a walk. Get outside.
*Talk to someone I trust to verbally process and release.
*Hug someone I love.
*Intentionally tense all the muscles in my body for 10-20 seconds, then release and relax them all. I often repeat this 2 or 3 times.
*Find a soft/safe item to punch. What I have found to be easiest for me is to stack a couple of pillows on my bed and punch them as hard as I can. With each punch, I speak out loud one of the things I feel angry about.
Different situations create different intensities of emotion. What I've learned is to experiment with different techniques to see what works best for the different intensities. Feeling minorly agitated or annoyed is much different than feeling extreme anger or rage. Some days, I practice one or two of these and feel the anger leave my body. Other days, I need to practice several (or all...!).
When you feel angry, what have techniques have you found to be most helpful for you?