A powerful ritual
I have spent a lot of time recently chatting with clients about their stress level & wellbeing.
Pretty consistently we talk about how out of control stress is right now, and how they just don’t know what to do about it.
Since the stressors aren’t going away anytime soon, it’s time to create a healing ritual of mindfulness, meditation and gratitude to allow you to feel calm and to interrupt the chronic stress cycle.
Often, I hear that people don’t find breathing exercises helpful in moments of stress crisis (whenever the fight or flight part of your nervous system is triggered for whatever reason).
But I think that all it takes is creating a ritual around your breathing exercise and consistent practice to condition your mind and body to relax and breathing to calm.
Eventually your ritual will be successful at breaking the stress cycle in those critical moments of stress & crisis.
Rituals allow you to quickly and more easily shift and engage in a specific mindset.
Basically you are giving your brain the cues that tell it what is coming so it can say “oh, we like the serenity we feel after this, let’s get right to that”.
Think about when you get on the massage table for your appointment, once you are settled you probably have a big sigh exhale and immediately start to let go and relax. Same exact thing.
So if your goal is to calm and sooth your nervous system, having a ritual around your breathing exercise can help you more quickly achieve that serenity and calm.
Creating Your Own Ritual
Your ritual should have a couple of key components when your goal is reducing your stress response. Basically the more cues you can give your brain the better, but keep it simple enough that you don’t get bogged down in the process and end up more stressed or frustrated than when you started.
Some other things that can add power to your ritual ... crystals like amethyst (has a calming vibration that is wonderful in times of anxiety and stress) or rose quartz (has a strong vibration of unconditional love, joy, warmth and connection to the heart); a mala to mark of your breaths; a mantra, my favourite one recently is Shima (pronounced she-ma) which means Love; a dedicated space to practice; aura spray (I love these from Alypsis); a mediation cushion (comfort is key).
What is the best time of day to practice?
Well this depends entirely on you.
If your quiet moment is when the kids are down for a nap, do it then.
When your stress is waking you up during the night, try preforming your ritual just prior to bed.
Alternately, you could try first thing in the morning for a positive and calm start to your day.
The key is to pick a time that you can consistently commit to practicing your ritual.
Rituals don’t have to take an incredible amount of time, but they do need to be practiced regularly in order for you to experience the quick and easy slip into your desired mindset.
Real Life Inspiration
One of my clients was struggling to calm her mind and get good restful sleep at night, so the ritual below is what we pulled together for her to try.
She practiced this ritual every night, just before turning off the lights, and by her next massage appointment 4 weeks later was already experiencing improved sleep which in turn made the days easier to handle. It was still a work in progress for her, but she was beginning to feel less overwhelmed and stressed; and the plan was to continue with regularly incorporating her ritual into her bedtime routine.
I hope this inspires you and helps guide you in creating your own ritual to calm your stressed nervous system.
If you are needing some further help pulling your ritual together please let me know and we can chat.
Remember that this is an extremely personal ritual and what works for me might actually stress you out.
So do what works for you!
So much of our world now is fast, fast, fast … even the physical speed we move at can be fast. How much can you accomplish in a small amount of time? How much can you cram into a weekend or a day off? How productive can you be?
But is that really what is best for us?
What would happen if you tried to slow down and be a little less busy? A little less productive? Move a little slower? Accomplished a little less?
One of my favorite ways to slow down is to head to a forest for a wander. Not a speed walk, but a dawdle through the trees with my camera. Taking in all that I can and capturing all the amazing things that I see along the way.
This way of basking in nature is actually referred to as Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing.
Forest Therapy in the simplest of forms can be described as mindfulness in nature. It revolves around spending time in nature, particularly among the trees.
Taking your time to move slowly through the environment, or even just sit. Close your eyes and just breath … then open your eyes and open your senses.
What can you see … what do you smell … what can you hear … is it warm or cool … what does the light look like as it filters through the trees?
Taking the time to notice big & little things like tiny mushrooms on the forest floor or how the branches of the trees catch the falling snow.
Spending time in nature can actually be an antidote for stress!
It can actually lower you blood pressure and cortisol levels, decrease nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, decrease anxiety, and improve mood.
“As we strengthen our connection with the natural world, our sense of beauty, wonder, awe and curiosity is restored and our brains and nervous system are calmed. Stress levels are lowered and the immune system boosted.”
Where are my favorite places around Peterborough to get a dose of nature?
So, will you join me for a little Forest Therapy this week?
I think we could all use a dose right about now, don't you?
How do you want to feel next year?
We have reached the point in the year where all the Christmas prep is done, all the gifts are wrapped and the groceries bought.
It is a time of year where you can sit back and appreciate what the last year has brought us before we turn our sights forwards again to the new year.
Now, in all brutal honesty, I have never been one to set new years resolutions or intentions. Why set myself up for failure and disappointment when I don’t meet my goals?
I am all for the practice of choosing how I want to feel next year … or more specifically, how I want to feel every single day.
About a year and a half ago now, I was introduced to this idea in a book called The Desire Map (bless you Jane for the recommendation and Danielle Laport for all of your wonderful inspiring work).
As soon as I started reading my copy from the library it struck such a cord with me that I knew I needed to actually get a physical copy of the book. I needed to be able to hold the book in my hands, press it to my heart, and be able to revisit it regularly.
It felt like Danielle Laporte was speaking directly to me.
The idea is that through a series of exercises you identify your Core Desired Feelings … the feelings that you ultimately want to be the driving force behind all of your choices and actions.
Once you have identified the feelings that resonate most you then make a list of intentional actions that answer the question …
What do I need to do
I am passionate not only about Massage Therapy, but also living a holistic lifestyle and empowering others to do the same!