BY: LBL Team

Zen When You Can

You’d love a weekend spa getaway. But in order to do that, you have to be able to get away.

If work, family, or other responsibilities have you feeling like you’re about to fall over, here are some exercises that will help you regain your balance.

Re-centering over resentment

Mention of balance brings to mind yoga. “A growing body of research suggests that yoga and meditation may reduce the stress that tends to assail bodies confined to desks for hours at a time,” the Huffington Post reports. Downward dog and other poses are great for relaxing. Yoga further incorporates deep breathing and meditation, both of which promote a state of Zen.

Of course meditation alone can help ease your anxiety and stress. Simply sit up straight with your feet on the floor and close your eyes. Then begin reciting a positive mantra. Try “I feel relaxed” or “Serenity now.” Sync the mantra with your breaths, and allow any distracting thoughts to drift through your mind like clouds.

If reciting a mantra seems strange, just 10 minutes of deep-breathing exercises can help you relax and unwind. Sit up straight with your eyes closed and one hand on your stomach. Then slowly inhale through your nose. Feel your breath begin in your stomach as it works its way to the top of your head. Then reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Deep-breathing exercises combat stress by slowing your heart rate and blood pressure.

Total body awareness

As you breathe to slow your heart rate and blood pressure, practice mindfulness to slow your thoughts. “Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant,” Forbes. “It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” Take five minutes and focus on just one sensation. For example, you can choose to focus on how the air feels against your skin as you walk around outside, or you can attune yourself to the noises around you. Focusing on your senses should make you feel less stressed.

Extend that focus to the rest of you with a body-awareness exercise. It can help you notice how stress affects your body. Lie on your back. Start with your toes and work your way to your head, noticing how your body feels.

You’ll definitely know how your body feels by doing a laughing exercise. “Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good,” reports the Mayo Clinic’s blog. “Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.” It reduces the stress hormone cortisol and boosts feel-good endorphins. Start laughing to yourself for a few minutes. You’ll likely find that laughing is contagious, and you won’t be able to stop!

Also contagious is the feeling you’ll get doing 10 minutes of stretching exercises a day. They can help ease muscle tension and relax you, especially if you do it before bed. Try stretching all major body parts — legs, arms, shoulders, back. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Kiss stress goodbye

Whatever exercises you choose to try, you’ll likely find that the few moments you take to do them make all the difference in a busy day. “Modern life can be challenging and, at times, stressful,” the Guardian notes. “The difficulties of balancing the competing demands of the workplace and our personal lives can affect the most capable of people.” Time to yourself can give you the poise and strength you’ll need to once again attend to others.

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