*This post is kindly sponsored by Rescue Remedy*
When I first started mentioning meditation on this platform I was pleased to find you all welcomed the content. Years ago meditation was mostly considered to fit somewhere between monks and serious yogis and many refused to acknowledge the mental health benefits and learn more about it.
I love how far we’ve come with ‘mindfulness’.
Personally, it has helped me let go of so much from my past I didn’t even realise was still holding me back in my present. Certain meditation tips paired with particular scents and tastes has lead me to be able to keep my mind calm when the surroundings are chaos.
Recently some of you have been asking me about how you can de-stress when you’re at work or on-the-go when they don’t have the time to sit somewhere and do a full meditation.
I thought I would pull together my favourite quick tips for reducing anxiety, lowering your heart rate and generally calming your mind.
- Breathe – If you are very short for time my favourite thing to do is a simple breathing exercise. Take a moment to forget about the stressful memory and think only about the numbers you are counting. Breathe in and count to four as you do so, hold that breathe counting to two, breathe out for four and hold your lungs empty to two. As you repeat this over and over again focus on just the numbers, on how the air fills your lungs and assess your muscles individually. Start with your feet, wriggle your toes, circle your ankles. Tighten each body part and then release it. Work your way up your body; calves, quads and hamstrings, glutes, hands, shoulders and your neck. Still, always focusing on the numbers you’re counting slowly and deliberately. Feel your body release a little more on each exhale. I love to do this sat at my desk, on the toilet, out for a walk or in a taxi – there are so many opportunities to work this into your day and the mental clarity for me is worth taking that short amount of time!
2. Visualise – I love this method. For me this also works for headaches and stomach irritations and you can it tie in with the breathing if you like.
There are two ways I do this and it depends on my situation. If I am having a generally tough day and there isn’t one particular problem I need to work through I like to picture a calm moment. It could be a memory of a place or one your make up. I’m going to let you in on mine to give you an example…
My “happy place” as I like to call it when I visualise it in my meditations is a succession of tree houses in an Amazonian-like rain forest. It’s a made up scenario but as I love being surrounded by nature and climbing trees it is something that reflects my soul and what grounds me. Being high up in the trees gives me a look out around me and a view of what’s below, it gives me a sense of control and as I hear the rain, wind and animals around me my heart rate always begins to drop. I like to sit there a while and walk through my happy place, imagining what it feels like being there, if there is anyone with me, enjoying the crisp fresh air. Conjuring up enough detail about your surroundings makes you focus solely on the big picture in your mind and leaves no room for the problems that are creating a state of panic in your body.
The other way I work through my problems with visualisation is if an injury or a headache is becoming stressful for me I work with something slightly different.
Let’s take a headache for example. I get them for a number of reasons; maybe I’ve been so focused on work I haven’t had enough water so far in my day or consumed enough calories. Another reason for headaches is that your body can’t tell the difference between getting stressed over a deadline and the fear you get facing an attacker. In both cases your body releases the same hormones that increase your heart rate and coil your muscles as if you’re ready to “fight or flight”. This means that you need to learn how to counter your body’s natural reaction to elevated stress levels. If you don’t learn how to read when your body is going through this process and react accordingly, you open yourself up to all sorts of health concerns after an extended period of time. As well as anxiety and depression one of the symptoms your could get is persistent headaches.
If I have a stress-induced headache I like to picture the pain in my body as a dark coloured ribbon. You may choose a different visual but for me (with no reason I can think of as to why) I have to untangle a ribbon. With each inhale I breathe bright white air into my body, penetrating the pain which slowly relaxes my muscles. With each exhale I loosen the ribbon and blow out some of that dark colour that’s causing me the pain. For me this is a tool I use whenever I get an injury, headache or even period pains and is a favourite of mine.
3. Activity – I think removing yourself from the situation is always a great option if you have it. Whether it is a ten minute brisk walk in the fresh air or just a trip away from your desk to the toilet so you can take a few moments to do a breathing or visualisation exercise.
Stepping outside and taking 10-15 minutes alone will take you away from the problem, allow yourself to clear your mind and the walk will also provide those wonderful endorphins that decrease your perception of pain and prompt feelings similar to ones morphine provides the body.
4. Scent and Taste – For me I have a few trigger scents and tastes that calm me. Whether they remind me of a calm moment, my childhood or it’s something I’ve used when I’m stressed that my body has become accustomed to smelling or tasting to relax me I’m sure (maybe without you even knowing) there are things in your life that do the same for you.
When I was much younger my sister was quite ill (she was later diagnosed with coeliacs disease that at the time was very unheard of) and to keep her calm she carried around Rescue Remedy drops in her handbag. The taste of them evokes strong childhood memories for me, even now anything lemon (my go to is a warm lemon water with root ginger and honey drink) relaxes me. Scents is a great one to find for the individual. Coming home after a long day and lighting a candle wafting your favourite smells around the room, or carrying a roll-on or spray that works for you can make a huge difference to your body.
There is so much in our daily lives nowadays that creates tension and stress. Deadlines, colleague disputes, relationship problems – all of which drains our bodies. Give a little love back to yourself and take a moment to correct an imbalance in your body with one of these simple tricks. Whether you’re at your desk or on-the-go, you’ve now got no excuse not to work towards a more mindful you!
I love that Rescue Remedy have always included flower essences but now also include Vitamin B12 and B5 to support your body’s normal mental performance. They’re also delicious in a lemon and elderflower flavour. I carry the mist around with me and the drops are always in my bathroom cabinet. If you want to try them out for yourself, their new products Rescue Plus Dropper and Spray are sold exclusively in Boots.
Until next time,
Similar articles on Popcorn + Pyjamas: