You can go to an expensive wellness retreat to calm yourself down. Or you can use some tips from relaxation experts to bring the calm back home. You don’t have to spend any money to have a stress free life.
We spoke to two wellness experts at Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona about simple things you can do every day to reduce stress and improve your mental health. Staying mindful and balanced, living in the moment and avoiding triggers are some of the suggested techniques.
Jess Holzworth is a spiritual life coach and yoga, meditation and breathing trainer. Carolyn Fike teaches practical meditation and how to put the seven chakras into practice.
Here are her 10 ways to live a stress-free life without spending a dime.
1. Cultivate gratitude for mental health
In everything that goes on around us that is worrying, whether on a personal or a larger social scale, it is important to remember the good things.
“When we get into a negative headspace, our world feels small. But when you are in gratitude, there is a sense of connectedness, which is a strong human emotion, ”said Holzworth.
Think about the physical things that you usually take for granted: your heart beats and your legs allow you to walk, for example. The same goes for your surroundings: you flush your toilet and you have running water. You can be grateful for these things too.
Finding easy ways to focus on the positive is a form of stress relief that “makes your heart happy,” said Holzworth. “It has a physical and psychological effect on your whole being.”
2. Live in the moment through mindfulness
Mindfulness means being aware of your surroundings and moving around as stress-free as possible. Thinking about everything you need to do and how little time you have to do it doesn’t do much good other than causing stress and possibly increasing your blood pressure. The same goes for obsession with the past that cannot be changed.
So doing little things to stay in the moment can help mental health and reduce stress.
And guess what? It’s not about adding anything to your do-list. “It’s just about showing your full presence in everything you do, wherever you are and how you are feeling,” said Holzworth.
“A few seconds of presence throughout the day will gradually help you increase your ability to feel more of your emotions and, consequently, to feel more alive.”
3. Build mindful micro-practices into your life
Little things can bring us comfort and joy – if we pay attention to them. Both practitioners encouraged what they call “micro-practices of mindfulness,” or the practice of mindfulness of the things we do every day.
So what does that really mean? Both suggested coffee as an example that many of us start the day with.
You can turn this simple morning routine into a mindful micro-practice, Fike said, by “really taking a moment to focus on feeling a sense of gratitude rather than a thoughtless routine we all get into.”
- Pay attention to the aroma of the coffee grounds.
- Hear the sound of fresh coffee being poured into your cup.
- Feel the warmth on your hands as you hold the mug.
- Inhale the steam and aroma of the fresh brew as you bring it to your lips.
- Enjoy the taste and warmth of the coffee in your mouth and throat.
This brief period of mindfulness can put you back in control and reduce stress. And it can be customized for any simple activity.
“It’s really about opening up to the little things like the taste of your coffee. It’s not just about the big things, it’s the little things that give us comfort and joy, ”said Holzworth. “(It could be) the touch of your cat’s fur, the sound of his purring.”
Both suggest looking for brief moments during the day that you could incorporate mindfulness. The warmth of the towels when they come out of the dryer. The feeling of warm water enveloping you as you shower. Also the worthwhile repetition of folding clothes.
“Anything can be done with mindfulness,” said Fike.
“Be in the present moment,” said Holzworth. “Life is a gift and it should be treated and honored that way.”
4. Say hello to the commute
Fike said that even commuting to work, school, or wherever you go can be a time of mindfulness instead of madness.
How Can Your Commuting Reduce Stress? Here are two options:
- Hear something you enjoy to make the journey less stressful.
- When you stop at a traffic light or a stop sign, look around. Look out for things you may never have seen, like a shop, restaurant, or even a pretty tree. “Some people pretend the Buddha winked at them when they see a red light,” said Fike.
It’s about “getting back to something more pleasant than something irritating,” said Fike.
Think of these moments as memories. “A reminder of impermanence, a reminder to be careful, a reminder not to take the red light personally. They are all reminders to slow down. “
5. Pay attention to your senses
“Anything that appeals to your senses will increase mindfulness and bring you into the present moment,” said Holzworth.
It can be the sight of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the smell of flowers, the sound of the sea or the taste of something delicious.
“How often do you literally inhale your food? Instead, slow down and chew it. When you chew your food carefully and carefully, it’s amazing how different it tastes, ”said Fike. “If you are eating anyway, why don’t you do it mindfully?”
6. Reduce stress with laughter
Why does a baby’s giggle make us happy immediately?
Mainly because we noticed. “This is a moment of mindfulness,” said Holzworth.
Next up because we usually giggle too. “Even we giggle is a moment of mindfulness.”
Laughter is a break from the part of your brain that analyzes and plans, she said. It’s a way of activating the part of your brain that is intuition, creativity, and insight. “When we giggle, we lose our vigilance a little. It’s a complete relief. Laughter is good for our health. “
If a giggle can help, think about what a good belly laugh could do to lower your blood pressure and relieve stress?
7. Breathe to relieve yourself
You need to breathe to live, but breathing can also reduce and relieve stress.
Holzworth explained that there is a sympathetic and a parasympathetic part of the nervous system. Both control the involuntary functions of your body. The sympathetic nervous system helps your body deal with stress – think of “fight or flight reflexes”. The parasympathetic nervous system controls your body functions in a resting state – think of “rest and digestion”.
“Unfortunately, I would say that the majority of our population, right now, is person-dominant,” said Holzworth. “These people exist in a stressful state in this world of fight or flight response.”
That means that for a stress-free life we all need more parasympathetic responses in our lives or moments when we are rested, rejuvenated, relaxed and recovered.
This is where your breath comes in.
“Your breath is a master regulator. Taking a few deep breaths will stimulate your vagus nerve and send a signal to your brain that says relax and calm down, ”she said. “Just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths and I guarantee anyone who does that will feel better.”
8. Find your own way to meditate
Meditation means different things to different people. Fike said she initially had no connection with silent meditation, so she accepted guided meditations to help with stress relief.
Mindfulness and meditation belong together, but are not the same thing. Mindfulness, in simple terms, means being aware and can fit into many parts of your day. Meditation is often an activity for a period of time.
There are many apps and YouTube videos available to teach you the basics, guide you through brief meditations, and offer other meditation exercises.
When trying it out, says Fike, it’s important to find a voice that resonates with you and that you enjoy listening to. If you don’t like the voice, you’re not going to pay attention to what they are saying.
Almost all guided meditations are about focusing on your breathing and remembering your physical body, such as the feeling in your toes and head.
There are also walking meditations and meditations around simple tasks that you do routinely.
You can meditate anywhere your feet are, Fike said, such as from the couch to the bathroom.
“You focus on how your feet move, how your feet feel when they connect to the floor, how your bones, tendons and muscles all work in symphony when you put one foot down and lift the other up.
“It’s just a pause to focus on something you wouldn’t normally do.”
9. Detoxify your electronics
Phones and other electronic devices are our constant companions, but putting them down for even a few minutes can free you to focus on the present and eliminate potentially stressful triggers.
Fike recommends avoiding being waved at your devices, especially when you’re talking to someone else. Most things don’t need an immediate response.
Your blood pressure and stress hormones will thank you for hanging up the phone for a while.
10. Don’t stress yourself about the stress relief
Both Fike and Holzworth said that trying to be stress-free is not about changing behaviors or adding all sorts of things to your already busy day. It’s about incorporating things you are already doing to relieve stress.
As an example, Fike uses her own mindfulness and meditation practices. These practices can show how life can literally slow down and help you combat stress.
“I don’t sit in the lotus position and meditate in silence on the top of the mountain for an hour,” she said. “I am a real person with real life problems and real challenges. I take my experiences from real life and present them to people who also live real life. “
When you think that living a stress free life means turning your existence upside down, you will simply be overwhelmed. When you think that living a stress free life means turning your existence upside down, you will simply be overwhelmed. Get used to looking for stress triggers that you create yourself.
“It’s really just about bringing more awareness into your existence and how you interact not just with yourself but with the rest of the world,” said Holzworth.
Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing on finance, health, travel, and other topics.