Category Archives: Uncategorized

In-The-Moment Destressifying

I don’t think it’s realistic to say “don’t stress.” — Chloe Kardashian

in-the-moment destressifying

You have all the tools you could ever need to live a self-actualized, stress-free life. No equipment is necessary. But sometimes, in the moment, we will succumb to our conditioned knee-jerk reactions that transcend someone else telling us not to stress. We need to get present really quickly or the stress hormones and panicky chemicals will have their way with us. We need to invoke present moment techniques like 16seconds, Reaching for SODA, and squeeze&release so we can pattern interrupt our reactivity and get to the other side of the moment.

You already know all the techniques; but because our stress is so personal, we can often benefit from helpful customized guidance to help you destressify when the moment strikes.

Destressifying Techniques Based on Your Personality

Depending on your personality, there is most likely a technique that feels right for you in a given moment to shift you from your conditioned response to your best version:

1. You’re a People Person Practice: Metta Meditation

This is a nourishing and healing meditation, and an example of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before you rush to put it on someone else. But don’t worry… after you’re filled with oxygen, you get to flow it out to every corner of the galaxy! Try this over the holidays. You may even want to start your family dinner with everyone holding hands and doing this metta meditation. Everyone will feel the shift. Remember we transform the world by transforming ourselves… one heart at a time.

2. You Need To Get Calm RIGHT NOW! 
Practice: Alternate nostril or mindfulness meditation

You know that feeling you get when doing something you love? You’re so absorbed yet your mind is super clear? This mindfulness meditation can help invoke that feeling. Stop yourself for two minutes a day and bring your attention to your breath. Just follow your breath in your mind’s eye going in and out through your nose. The idea is that by staying with your breath, you’re not going to the past or future in your thoughts. If you’re extremely busy or a beginning meditator, this method works really well because it’s quick and you can do it anywhere. It’s also beneficial for combating stress and anxiety in the moment. To take it deeper, practice alternate nostril breathing.

3. You’re a Foodie, or Have Food Issues
Practice: Sensory Meditation

A form of sensory meditation is mindful eating. Choose a piece of chocolate or truffle—and focus on the flavors and experience of eating it, savoring every bite, and connecting to the moment, without any other distractions like television, work, or other people. Simply place the piece of chocolate in your mouth, close your eyes, and for five minutes just allow the chocolate to dissolve. Don’t bite or chew it… just let it slowly dissolve. Connect to the changes and nuances in flavor, texture, and sensation. Just allow each moment to unfold and stay fully present with the process. If you struggle with emotional eating or weight concerns, or just haven’t been taking the time to notice what you’re putting in your body, this is a great tool for gaining more awareness, becoming mindful of your eating, and bringing more joy to the experience.

4. You’re A Perfectionist
Practice: Heart Breathing

Instead of searching for the things that didn’t work out that you need to fix, place your hand on your heart, and say “peace, harmony, laughter, and love” to yourself. Do this for five minutes repeating the words slowly. They’ll become positive affirmations, and are meant to help allow you to experience self-compassion, reminding you to not take everything so seriously, and perhaps even celebrate your accomplishments.

5. You Need To Let Go, Shake It Off, and Have Fun More
Practice: 8 destressifications of the spine as you blast your favorite song & sing along.

This doesn’t have to be a serious meditation, you can hum under your breath for the first few destressifications, and then bust it out when your arms are raised. Make it fun!

Destressifying Techniques for On the Go

Take a look at all the various opportunities you have throughout the day to move beyond stress. Once you are living a destressifying life, these in-the-moment tools will matter less; but as we journey to full on self-actualization, our interpretations of stress can take their toll. Use the following methods below, to help you destressify while traveling, sitting at your desk, on the phone, or as you hear bad news for the first time:

1. Heading to the airport: play calming music and destressify through your senses; or dive in and sing along with a flying theme. The Letter by Joe Cocker; Back in the USSR by the Beatles; Coming into Los Angeles by Arlo Guthrie, or Aeroplane by the Red Hot Chili Peppers or my personal favorite, Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters or pick one of your faves.

2. Destressify at the airport – take it slow and breathe as you allow all the activity around you to drift right past – stay centered in you heart; practice mindfulness meditation drinking it all in and coming back to your breath.
Checking in – get focused on the flight details, your desired seat, checking your baggage; and sending kindness to the ticket agent (do a mini-metta meditation); put your phone in your pocket – don’t multi-task.

  • In the TSA line – 16seconds as you drift your attention to the soles of your feet and feel your bare feet connecting with the floor; slowly and methodically put all of your jewelry, watch, phone, belt, shoes, etc. into the same bin; take your time; keep going through several rounds of 16seconds until you have collected all your belongings; breathe and smile.
  • Waiting at the gate – as soon as you sit down do a few rounds of 8 destressifications of the spine; make a phone call; and then reach out to someone you love and text them to let them know you are thinking about them; then practice a relaxed destressifying body scan.
  • Walking on the plane – start with 16seconds; then practice reaching for S.O.D.A.; as you stow you carry-on; as soon as you sit down, do 8 destressifications of the spine.
  • Taking off – heart breathing – version 2 and alternate nostril breathing; this is the perfect time to practice a destressifying body scan. Remember: if there are any areas of your body that feel tight, constricted, or painful, breathe deeply into them until they release.
  • While flying – meditate during the flight for a few minutes here and there – use any technique you’ve gotten comfortable with; drink lots of water; set your watch to the current time as you cross time zones; do a few rounds of squeeze&release; and every 30 minutes do the 8 destressifications of the spine.
  • Getting ready for landing – focus on the seat back directly in front of your eyes and lock into a trance of quiet continuous breathing.

3. Destressify on the phone

  • As it rings – Upon seeing an anxiety-producing number or name appear on your phone, begin reaching for SODA.
  • Starting the conversation – 16seconds; as the conversation winds down do a mini-metta meditation and send them unconditional loving-kindness.

4. Destressify at your computer – look away from your screen to a pleasant image every 15 minutes; play the sound of trickling water or listen to a guided meditation on davidji.com; take a break every two hours and practice a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing; then do 8 destressifications of the spine.

5. Destressify after hearing bad news – allow your emotions to flow; practice emotional awareness and surrender to a 20 minute practice of the Mindful Flow Meditation; then reach out and connect with a few core relationships in your life – share, vent, cry. Recognize that you will get to the other side of this but be gentle with yourself and allow your emotions of pain and sadness to flow. In the days that follow, start your day with Metta Meditation and end your day with the Mindful Flow Meditation. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel – it always seems further off than it actually is.

Integrating destressifying Techniques into Your Day

The goal is not simply to live our lives in bliss (although that would be nice) – but to cultivate our ability to connect to present-moment awareness and then come into the next moment with greater awareness, calm, clarity, creativity, intuition, and fulfillment.

Intellectually, we understand the scientific benefits of introducing a pattern interrupt into our non-stop flow of thoughts, words, and actions. And once you lock in a daily practice of meditation, the results will effortlessly circulate through your life. But if we can integrate in-the-moment destressifying techniques throughout the course of our day, we will diffuse potential stressors as they unfold.

In the morning at home: ideally you’ve already completed your first meditation of the day using RPM. Creating stillness as the starting point for your next 24 hours sets a powerful trajectory. But the unknown stress can lurk right around the corner. As soon as you feel stressed, implement any of these ten steps to bring you back into the moment:

  1. Spend five minutes holding your child, your lover, your pet, or yourself… which will instantly ease your blood pressure.
  2. Take a 10-minute walk connecting to nature to ease anxiety and replace it with calm. Leave your phone home and don’t plug in any music. Just drink in everything you see, hear, touch, and smell as you walk at a leisurely pace.
  3. Practice 15-minutes of yoga or stretching. Start with 5 minutes of deep alternate nostril breathing. Then gently move through a classic sun salutation flow to awaken your energy, release tension and rejuvenate your body. And then lay on your back with your eyes closed for 5 minutes.

At work: Ideally you are walking into the workplace with stillness and silence already flowing through you. But as soon as you notice frustration, irritation, or intensity starting to build, take these steps:

  1. Upon feeling the spark of your emotional tell, Reach for SODA. Stop, Observe, Detach, and Awaken to the best version of yourself.
  2. Pour some lavender or sandalwood-based oil or lotion gently into your open hand. Massage your palm with your thumb, then massage each finger from the base to the tip, and then the webbed area between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Step away from your desk and go outside or to an unoccupied place where you can sit. Close your eyes and breathe in and out deeply through your nostrils ten times to lower your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure.
  4. Take 3 minutes and chew a piece of gum to loosen the stress in your jaw. While you chew, roll your neck around to ease out any tightness.

After work, you’re carrying the past 12 hours of the day inside every cell in your body. So either as the very last thing you do before you head home or the very first thing you do when you come home, take time to release the day:

  1. Shake the tension right out of your body. Roll your shoulders backward and forward. Reach your arms to the sky and stretch and elongate your whole body from your toes to the tips of your fingers, then do a few arm circles. If you’re feeling sprightly, finish off with ten jumping jacks
  2. Shake the tension out of your mind with recapitulation. Spend five minutes playing your day in fast forward from the moment you woke up – don’t linger for more than one second on each activity or event that unfolded throughout the day – don’t harp on the drama or the words. Just keep playing your day at high speed like you were holding down the fast forward button on your remote.
  3. After dinner, SLOW down. Light a candle, brew some tea, take a bath, or nibble on some chocolate.

These ten steps can keep your body and your mind on a steady destressifying regimen; and if you can commit to them, fewer crises will arise in your day-to-day.

7 Tips To Destressify Right Now

7 Tips To Destressify Right Now

Destressifying is a mind-set, a lifestyle. It’s not simply about conquering stress in the moment, but proactively shifting the way you receive, interpret and respond to life by cultivating a deeper awareness of stress and yourself. Destressifying is about learning to be your best and express yourself at your highest level in every situation. Whether stress is good or bad matters less than what you do with the moment when stress appears, and what you do with your life from this moment forward. So are you ready to destressify? Are you ready to allow the best version of you to shine forth? Here’s 7 tips to get you started.

1. Clearly define your stressor.

Both our body and our mind are impacted by stress; yet, when the experience itself is clearly defined, is relatively short term with a beginning and an end. You will recover more quickly once you know what you’re stressing about.

2. Curb your addiction to stress.

Sometimes we view stress as a motivational force to meet a deadline or step through a challenge. But the consistent overflow of stress hormones that impacts our physiology, and the non-stop swirl of thoughts clouding our mind, create a state of consciousness where we simply become stuck, frozen, as if in a voodoo trance.

3. Squeeze & release.

Think of the most stressful thing that has happened to you in the past month. How did it make you feel? Say it out loud. Now locate the feeling of discomfort it creates someplace in your body. Take a deep breath in and make a really tight fist with your right hand. Keep holding your breath. Now, holding that fist tight, tense your right arm from your wrist, forearm, elbow, bicep…right up to your shoulder. Hold this tension and your breath for 10 seconds and release both. Repeat with your left side then shake it out.

4. Practice #16seconds.

When you’re faced with an immediate stressor, calm yourself in just a few seconds. Breath in slowly to the count of 4. Hold that breath for the count of 4. Slowly exhale through your nostrils to the count of 4. When the last wisp of air is out of you, hold that breath out to the count of 4.

5. Identify your neurotic traits.

Neurotics are mentally unstable, right? Not really. Neuroticism is our tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. We all have emotional triggers or hot buttons that drive us crazy. What we do with that information determines where we fall along the scale of neuroticism. Examples of neuroticism are: reactivity, inability to relax, ease of getting stressed out, frequency of mood changes and swings, ability to be easily disturbed or upset, capacity of worry, anxiety and sadness.

6. Increase the odds that your needs will be met.

Stress occurs when our needs are not met in some way. By gaining clarity on your expectations, better understanding the situation, taking clear steps to meet your needs, and communicating them to others more consciously, you can become more destressifyed.

7. Pay attention to others’ needs, too.

When you place attention on your needs (like you just did in step 6), and see how you prioritize them, a new horizon suddenly appears to understand others’ needs, also. Reflect on your core relationships; your spouse or partner of the moment, your closest friends, your parents, children, boss, co-workers, teachers or people that report to you. Pick just one person and for a few moments think about what their top three needs might be (even if you’re guessing). Next time someone pushes your button or they irritate you, understanding their needs will enlighten you not to take it personally because most likely they are acting to fulfill one of their unmet needs.

Destressifying Through Your 5 Senses

Blake said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. He considered the senses the ‘windows of the soul.”
–Jim Morrison

destressifying through your five senses

One of the magnificent aspects of destressifying is that it is a no equipment necessary practice – meaning no gear is required to shift us from where we are to where we’d like to be – no pills, contraptions, external processes, or plug-ins. We use our five senses, our emotional intelligence, our heart, and our intellect. For thousands of years, these are the timeless tools that been handed down through generations to shift people into states of destressifying. And we continue that tradition here.

Our senses are the doorway to our world. We are a tactile, visual, aural, gustatory, olfactory species. We like to touch things, see them, sample them, feel them, taste them, smell them, hold them, listen to them, connect with others physically…and we are biologically and emotionally comforted through our senses. Let’s explore some real-world core steps to destressify through our connection with aromas, food, sounds, visuals, and our bodies.

Sight

We observe most of the world through our vision – because we can access something sitting right in front of us, or a mile away- simply by directing our attention. Additionally, we are a screen-based society – constantly looking at a monitor, a phone, a TV, a tablet, a back-up camera, a navigation system– looking, gazing, reading, watching videos, sending texts, checking messages. But there are powerful ways to destressify using our sense of sight.

First of all, the images that come into us through our eyes have direct impact on our emotions whether we are aware or not – but visual awareness can impact our interpretations, perceptions, beliefs, and our sense of stress. What we take in through our eyes can trigger fight-flight or total chill. Science has proven that positive imagery relaxes us – providing all the benefits of the destressified response – while negative visual impressions such as violence, pain, and sadness inform our emotions, our chemical and hormonal make-up, in an unconstructive way. Yes, of course, seeing a threat coming from off in the distance is very helpful … perhaps even life-saving. But in our day to day, what we absorb through our eyes is rarely life-threatening – yet it can create ripples of stress like any other stressor.

Do you have a Blue Mind?

nichols_w_coverThe book Blue Mind by the compassionate, insightful conservationist, and game- changing marine biologist and research scientist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols has the sub-title The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. The expansive view of the ocean – or any large body of water – seems to have a tranquilizing effect on our brain because there are no physical markers on it –like trees, or bends in the road, or sign posts- to limit or confine it in any way. We mirror our environment and contemplating the endless expanse of the ocean or the serene stillness of a lake will quickly relax you. J even suggests that simply having a glass of water near you or a blue marble in your pocket can create a destressifying theme.

We can destressify through our sense of sight by surrounding ourselves with soothing, relaxing, and life-affirming imagery. Depending on your typical stress response – do you lash out or shut down? Colors can create a nourishing, healing, and stress free environment. If you are prone to anxiety, worry, fear, second-guessing yourself, self-deprecation, or sadness, – surround yourself with earth tones, pastels, even white. If you are prone to irritation, anger, aggressiveness, abrasiveness, or confrontational interactions – surround yourself with cooling blues and soothing greens. Science is now actually heralding the value of spending time near blue waters.

Place pictures around your work-space that make you smile or feel good.
Place destressifying phrases on your dashboard, your bathroom mirror, the side of your monitor that connect you with inspiration, creativity, happiness, and joy. And surround yourself with destressifying colors such as soothing blues or cooling greens.

Touch

We are tactile beings wired for touch. We crave being touched, holding something, or touching another. As babies and children, we cradled our stuffed animal, slept with our doll, or cuddled with our blankie to soothe us when we were scared, sad, or lonely. As adults, we wear jewelry, rub worry stones, carry rosaries, rabbits feet, our favorite key chain…even gripping the steering wheel of our car can ease you from the stresses of the day.

The cover of this book displays a stress ball – one of the first inventions to help people deal with stress. Take a look at it right now – just the image of it is soothing. The technique of squeeze&release (no equipment necessary) gives you the same relief from stress when you don’t happen to have a stress ball around. And science has proven that by flexing our muscles and then easing them we induce a state of destressifying. Any kind of touch helps us sidestep stress in the moment.

Studies have shown that laboratory test rats injected with cancer cells survive longer if they are petted. We will live longer and more stress-free if we are petted – even if it’s by our own self! Hugging others, petting animals (adopt your next pet), even wearing clothes that make us feel sexy or comfortable will relieve stress in the moment. And of course any type of physical repetitive or energizing activity will also destressify us. Rolling your shoulders releases lots of tension in your upper body and rolling your neck in small or big circles has the same effect. Taking a walk, tapping your toes, bouncing on your heels, stroking or self-massaging your arms, legs, lower back, and even your scalp can be powerful relaxation techniques that soothe you emotionally as well.

Body Meditations

Mindfulness meditation, which we previously discussed, is a “bodymind” meditation, because you are taking in energy and information from all of your senses—your hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, breathing, and feeling everything in your body that you can feel, including the largest organ in your body: your skin. But there are also more intimate physical forms of meditation that involve the connection between two people, such as in partner yoga, massage, and lovemaking.

A truly gifted therapist can destressify you with just one touch. Giving someone a massage can be destressifying in itself. And surrendering to the nurturing and healing touch of massage treatment is certainly one of the most stress-relieving gifts you can give yourself as you surrender your physiology, relax your mind, and open your heart a bit. Receiving a massage is a fully present-moment-awareness experience. Regardless of where your mind wanders, you are continuously brought back to the object of your attention: wherever you are being touched in a given moment and whatever energetic or emotional connection the sensation of touch triggers. Physical and emotional destressifying in one fell swoop!

There are thousands of books and videos on massage, so I will defer to these experts on “the best” or “the most effective” modalities of massage. Personally, I prefer traditional Ayurvedic massage, a form of massage therapy, which uses warm, herb-infused oil that permeates your pores. In addition to the destressifying benefits of kneading your skin and relaxing your muscles, Ayurvedic massage de-stressifies your mind through aromatherapy which I’ll discuss in a bit when we address the sense of smell.

If you don’t happen to have a massage therapist on call, you can always perform a self-massage. I suggest this every morning before you bathe or shower. I recommend a lavender or sesame oil. And if you are looking for top quality Ayurvedic oil, I suggest you visit Shankara.com for the finest, purest herbalized body oils. Here’s how to perform a self-massage:

Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room and run your bottle of oil under a hot stream of water. After a few minutes, pour some oil (sesame is best but any massage oil will do) into the palm of your hand.

Rub them gently together and then massage your left hand with your right. Start by pressing your right thumb into the palm of your hand and using a clockwise motion make larger circles in you palm. Spend time rubbing the part of your palm closer to the wrist and then freestyle your thumb all over your palm. Then move to your pinky and massage it moving from the base to the tip of the finger. Continue with your other fingers. Grip, squeeze and release each of your fingers as you invigorate every millimeter of your hand and then do the same with the other hand.

Now that your hands are pulsing with excitement, move your hands to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a few minutes massaging your entire scalp
Then move down your head, massaging in small upward circular motions on your forehead, temples, cheeks, nose, lips, and jaws (This is like a mini-facelift). Then move to your ears, and massage every part of each ear, especially your ear-lobes and behind your ears as well.

Move to your shoulders and in circular motions, repeatedly roll your hand over your shoulder, then your upper arm, spending time on the front and back of your bicep and tricep. Then in circular motions around your elbow, and then on both sides of your forearm. Remember to use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles).

Move to your chest, and massage your abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side (stay clockwise). Proceed down to your hips. Give them a good rub, and then put some dedicated time on your legs. Use both hands on your legs, starting with your thighs moving in long broad strokes at first and then gripping the inner and outer thigh using squeeze and release.

Remember go only as hard as feels comfortable. Circular motions on your knees – front and back. And then using the same broad up and down strokes you used on your thighs, do the same to your sin and calf. Go circular on your ankles and then spend some dedicated time on your feet… just like you did with your hands. Spend a little extra time on your feet considering you stand on them so much – really take the time to knead them and use squeeze & release on each toe. Rub between your toes and on the top of your foot as well. Sit with the oil for a few minutes so that it can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body. Then carefully get into the shower or bath and let the warm water gently wash away the oil still on the surface. Use a mild body wash or soap to actually clean yourself and remove any excess oil you don’t want to get on your clothes. And then gently blot your towel on your body to remove any remaining traces.

I am also a devotee of Thai massage, which is most often practiced clothed. It is similar to having someone do yoga to you. Your Thai massage therapist actually moves you into positions akin to yoga poses and then holds you in those positions as you breathe into them . . . merge into them… as your body becomes theirs. Slowly and effortlessly you stretch, millimeter by millimeter, further than you otherwise thought you could. Stretch your body . . . stretch your mind . . . stretch your heart. The process is extremely destressifying. And it is very easy under these circumstances to surrender to the present moment.

Sound

Each of us has a particular song, rhythm, or music that we like to hear when we want to be relaxed. Some of us prefer songs from our childhood or soft tones to lull us into states of tranquility; others a soothing guided meditation or the voice of a loved-one; and still others surrender to spa music or sounds of nature to wind them down. There are as many destressifying sounds as there are people on the planet, and the ebb and flow of the ocean’s waves have been calming people for millennia. It’s now been scientifically proven through research by Dr. Nichols and brain imagining studies in Europe, that proximity to water actually floods the brain with feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol actually drop when we hear the sound of water and our focus increases. So even if you don’t live near an ocean or waterway – you can place a trickling fountain, rippling sound of water, or bubbling fish tank within ear shot and you will subconsciously destressify.

In addition to all these environmental sounds destressifying us, there is of course the sound of the human voice. And our ability to listen to others really carefully as they speak is an important conflict resolution tool. When we listen for what is felt as well as what is said, we tap in more deeply to the message. Dogs don’t actually understand the words we say to them; but they read our body language, the cadence of our voice, and the tone of what we say. When we listen, we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening also strengthens us, informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us when it’s our turn to speak.

I’ve written many articles about sound waves and dedicated an entire chapter to it in Secrets of Meditation. Several of my guided meditations have alpha, theta & delta waves woven into the background music to help your brain slow down. When you listen to slower sound waves, your brain begins to emit those same type of waves. In our natural waking state our brain sends out beta waves; as we slow through destressifying we move into alpha; as we go deeper into relaxation we move to theta waves; and our state of deep sleep is delta waves. I invite you to experience this sensation of entraining your brain using sound waves; just visit davidji.com/destressifying where you can stream a few of my guided meditations that have sound waves integrated into them.

Taste

Water is the perfect destressifying elixir – hydrating every cell and especially our brain, which is made up primarily of water. Ideally, the water should be room temperature so it can be absorbed most quickly without having to be warmed by the body – but there’s nothing like an ice-cold refreshing glass of water or a splash of water on your face to help you release stress in your jaw, temples, neck, and head.

Stress and food have always been connected because of our propensity to emotionally eat when our needs are unfulfilled. Eating is the perfect solution when we feel lonely, less-than, sad, hopeless. And we now know because of the rise and fall of our sugar levels that the more stressed you are, the more cortisol & glucagon will surge into you and the more you will reach for sugars and carbs to comfort you and ease your stress over unmet needs. Those with consistent diets are less likely to be stressed than those whose eating is all over the place. Ever sat down and inhaled an entire bag of chips or container of popcorn?

Learn About Stressful Foods

Stressful Foods

Foods higher in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals will fuel you more effectively lessening your stress hormones. And we know that there is a monster list of foods that heighten stress, such as:

  • FLUNC foods – Frozen, Left-overs, Unnatural, Nuked, or Canned
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Soft drinks
  • Salt
  • Caffeinated coffee and tea – Caffeine stays in the body for up to six hours before it starts to break down triggering long-term infusions of cortisol.

Replace them with these stress-busters:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Water
  • Omega fatty acids
  • Chamomile and herbal teas
  • Chewing on ice rather than junk foods

Classic stress-inducing behaviors include eating while you are anxious, arguing, or angry. Reach for SODA (not soda pop) in those moments instead of ice cream and step back from the fridge. You’ll quickly destressify in those five seconds. Try eating in silence once a day – no TV, no devices, and no conversation. The concept of mindful eating will surprise you with its simple calming effect.

  • Don’t stand while you eat.
  • Don’t eat behind the wheel.
  • Don’t walk or talk on the phone while you eat, and
  • Don’t eat while you type at your computer.

Ancient wisdom says to eat your largest meal of the day at lunch – yet we all think of dinner as our big meal. If you can shift this a few times a week, your bloat and indigestion will become a thing of the past. Think of all the stress we have regarding digestion and elimination. By following a few basic rules, you will have less indigestion; you will transcend the need to nap mid-day. Try to eat all the colors of the rainbow in each meal. And if you need to snack during the day – ideally you shouldn’t need to, if lunch is your largest meal – try fresh organic food so you don’t have to deal with pesticides or processed chemicals. Take some time with your eating – see if you can eat mindfully… without TV, without talking… without reading… without touching your device. When we are able to more consistently witness our eating behaviors, we can see our non-nourishing behaviors in a more objective light, and rather than being defensive or impulsive, we can then make more conscious, life-affirming choices regarding our food.

Smell

Our connection to smells and the meaning they have carved into our nervous system is profound. Olfaction is our most primal sense and in a nanosecond can trigger memories of our grandmother’s freshly baked cookies, our grade-school teacher’s perfume, or the musty cabin of our childhood summer camp. Events from decades ago are resurrected in our mind when the right aroma wafts into our nostrils. And we can also use distinct aromas to fully enter the present moment for short periods of time. Scrape your nails across a lemon or orange and take several long slow deep breaths of the fresh citrus aroma – it will calm you in moments.

Smell is so relaxing, you can even choose to immerse yourself in a scent as a form of meditation. Light a candle or incense that release a soothing aroma. Or rub an essential oil on your hands and take a long deep breath in. And then just allow the aroma to do its magic. This process awakens aspects of your nasal receptors that you may not have felt before. And it will consistently provide you with short bursts of present-moment awareness and stress release.

Aromatherapy

Scent can be a powerful memory trigger even when you’re not in the kitchen. They work quite effectively during a massage (and you can even use them in the shower or bath to start your day on a calming note). So, identify aromas and fragrances that comfort you and see if you can reproduce them in your life. These are the herbal aromas that can instantly balance, calm, soothe and relax you upon breathing them in:

  • Sandalwood
  • Rose
  • Jasmine
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Vanilla
  • All citrus smells such as orange, lemon, and grapefruit
  • Patchouli
  • Chamomile

Surround yourself with aromas that make you smile or relax. Light a candle, burn some incense, scrape your nails across a lemon skin, or crack open a grapefruit and you will feel instant destressifying. Identify the aromas that instantly cool you down or destressify you. You can buy them online or at any Whole Foods or organic grocery store. Every time you feel a stressor in your life, pop the cap and breathe. Many of these aromas come in roll-ons, essential oils, candles, powders, and incense sticks, so get the one that works for you.

Our senses are constantly “on” and so is your potential for stress. So let’s use these magnificent God-given aspects of our being to nourish us when the circumstances around us -or the feelings within us- aren’t so accommodating.

Attention & Intention

We absorb the world through our senses – and mostly (as with the non-stop swirl of thoughts), what flows into us is overwhelming. There is no way our brain can simultaneously process everything you are hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and feeling. So you get to choose – where do you want to place your attention? If you make a commitment to direct your attention on a particular visual, sound, smell, taste, or physical feeling – and use that sense as the object of your attention for 16seconds – you will start realizing that you get to choose where your energy goes rather than having it “pulled” in a hundred different directions. You can hone this skill anytime you feel overwhelmed, by simply taking a long, slow, deep breath in and then being fully present with the object of your attention. If it’s not a visual, then close your eyes as you breathe in – and the swirl will stop!

Everything in life is about attention (where do we direct our energy?) and intention (what is the purpose we bring to the moment?). We’ve explored what we can do with our five senses to destressify in the moment. Now let’s look at the lifestyle choices we can make to proactively flow destressifying into every thought, conversation, interaction, and choice.

Guided Meditations

Guided Meditations

Many of my guided meditations have alpha, theta & delta waves woven into the background music to help your brain slow down. When you listen to slower sound waves, your brain begins to emit those same type of waves. In our natural waking state our brain sends out beta waves; as we slow through destressifying we move into alpha; as we go deeper into relaxation we move to theta waves; and our state of deep sleep is delta waves. I invite you to experience this sensation of entraining your brain using sound waves with these guided meditations. You may stream, or download them to your playlist.

1 Mindful Minute

Metta Meditation

Take Two Minutes

Destressifying Through Lifestyle Choices

“I do not weep at the world I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” — Zora Neale Hurston

destressifying through lifestyle choices

As we work longer hours, become more engaged in social events, take care of all the members of our family, meet all of our obligations, get busier and busier, and try to become self-actualized, the stress of life can be overwhelming. One of the core aspects of destressifying is simplifying. Just as we de-clutter our closets – de-cluttering our life brings a sense of order or structure, which is very relaxing for a lot of people. If you have a room in your house that’s out of control, or your car has cereal embedded in the back seat, or your garage is filled with boxes from your last move – these can be tip-offs that you are at risk for massive chronic stress.

Paring down, cleaning house, and living a “less is more” lifestyle is massively destressifying. There are many other stress triggers in our life that exacerbate the challenge of non-stop stress. In this online bonus chapter, I’ve gone deep into the top14 daily lifestyle choices we can make -individually or in combination- to shift us quickly back onto the path of destressifying. Included in this daily lifestyle guidance are instant destressifying techniques, guided meditations, and never-before-published insights from world renowned fitness expert Laura Bender who I am honored to have certified as one of my core Masters of Wisdom & Meditation Teachers.

Experience teaches us that -if we try too many destressifying techniques at once- we will fail, stop trying, and slip back into the clutches of stress. So be smart, select one –only one!- and own it until it flows effortlessly through you; then move on to the next that resonates with you:

1. Simplify.

Look at all the moving parts in your life. Find items, behaviors, and relationships that distract you more than nourish you and prune your life down. Don’t do it all at once – that will create more stress. Take five minutes every morning or evening, identify something that’s taking up space in your life and release it. Six years ago, I committed to throwing one thing out every day – even if it was a scrap of paper. A messy home equals a stressy home! This daily ritual has become liberating and even rewarding, as I have linked the process to feeling lighter. Even tossing out a scrap of paper makes me smile. Work on creating a nourishing environment. If you can make the commitment to create all of your spaces with balance and nourishment, your outer world will begin to mirror your inner destressified self. Being in any space that you consider calm, orderly, and reflective of your values will support you in your projects, relationships, and choices.

2. Get comfortable with NO.

Saying yes to life opens you up to more opportunities, expanded horizons, and more abundance in every area of your life. But if we live every moment with an open door policy, we quickly feel the stress of this abundance. Don’t shift your abundance consciousness – but pick one day a week where you say “No” to everything…create more definable boundaries, un-commit yourself from over-reaching obligations where most likely you will not meet someone else’s needs. If you can’t bring yourself to say NO, then double the time it takes you to respond to all the requests that come into you. Don’t automatically say, Yes. Give yourself some time to reflect on the commitment you’re about to make and the consequences of that commitment.

3. Evolve a relationship.

Every month, using The Five Realms tool, shift, repair, or end a relationship that doesn’t serve you in its current state. The process may take you a few weeks, but once the relationship is actually meeting your needs, the benefits will be exponential as someone who toxically absorbed all of your thoughts now flows through your awareness without pushing your buttons.

4. Eliminate debt.

Make the commitment to get out of debt. Owing money – especially to a credit card company can be one of the most stressful aspects of your life. If you have a constricted relationship with money, reach out to the master of abundance – T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind -who has inspired hundreds of thousands around the world to be their best financial versions of themselves- and attend one of his workshops. This is not meant as investment advice. This is pure destressifying. Make the commitment today to shift into abundance consciousness.

5. Meditate.

Start slowly and build your daily meditation practice into a cornerstone of your day. It will quickly evolve into a cornerstone of your life and once you start to feel the positive ripples from this painless, destressifying practice, your life will blossom and bloom. This is a core mastery of destressifying, so meditate for at least 16seconds every day upon waking, at 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, and before bed.

6. Celebrate.

Take the time at the end of each month to celebrate another successful 30 days of destressifying, meeting your needs, heightening your emotional awareness, communicating consciously, and moving closer to self-actualization. Often times, the month ends and we roll right into the next month without skipping a beat. This feeds the non-stop swirl and the relentless intensity of daily living. If instead, we can break it down into 12 celebrations where we buy ourselves an experience or an item we’ve been desiring, we prepare a special dinner, we pay off some debt, or we put some money into savings, we will fulfill many of our unmet needs. In addition, take some time each day –even if it’s only a minute- to celebrate your small wins and your blessings.

7. Get perspective.

Don’t dwell on solving situations you can’t control such as weather, traffic, flight delays, etc. Solve one small problem every day that is within your control…something easy like putting the cap back on the toothpaste, taking out the trash, reading a few pages of a book, going to an exercise or yoga class, cleaning a room or your car, washing the dishes, paying bills, watching a training video, or doing the laundry to remind you what is within your ability to influence. This “win” will reinforce your moving forward and actually fuel your esteem needs being met with greater consistency.

8. Go to bed.

Lack of sleep is a huge stressor. There are a few hundred reasons we don’t go to sleep early, and sleep restfully through the night but the most common are the food we ate for dinner (usually too much caffeine or alcohol), the evening urge to stay online or watch TV (catching up on emails or mindless social media), and the fact that we resist slowing down after 7pm (often just beginning our evening dining and socializing). There’s no such thing as a daytime raccoon and there’s no such thing as a nocturnal human. Just as plants, birds, most other mammals, and the majority of diurnal creatures on the planet, our bodies are wired to rise with the sun, be productive during the 12+ hours of sunlight everyday and wind down when it sets. People who say, “I’m a night owl” are confused. When we can align ourselves with the rhythms of nature – the daily, lunar, tidal, and seasonal rhythms – we are not struggling against universal forces of nature… we are flowing with them.

The occasional late night will not hurt you, but believing you will thrive by consistently resisting the circadian rhythms and the laws of nature, is madness. All the hormones and chemicals in your body are specifically designed to support you during sunlight and nourish you in sleep during darkness. Those who work while the sun is “sleeping” – train conductors, ER nurses, pilots, swing shift and night shift workers- all experience the negative impacts of poor sleep and confused biorhythms such as apnea and sketchy performance. They are stress-filled ticking time bombs who are damaging themselves and hindering their path to self-actualization. Set a target to be in bed by 10:30 and start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier every week until you get there.

9. Exercise regularly.

We know the value of getting our blood flowing and the nourishing chemical and hormone response we experience from a good workout; in order to thrive physically and emotionally, the bodymind needs to cultivate strength, flexibility, and balance. Daily exercise of at least 22 minutes (the minimum threshold for capillary development) makes that possible by building our resilience and releases physical tension. Exercise also allows the mind to release anxiety; and you don’t even need to leave the house to do it – every TV content provider offers free programming for physical workouts, Pilates, yoga, and dancing. Laura Bender’s article on meditation and exercise explains the benefits of a bodymind workout.

10. Prepare.

living in the moment is very relaxing until you have to show up and be your best. Taking the time to plan and prepare are two present-moment activities that ensure the future will arrive as close to our expectations as possible. If you have a big presentation next week, take the time to look at all the possibilities and practice –even if you just read it over a few times. This applies to any big moment whether it’s preparing for an interview or planning to quit a job. Attention invested in advance will help the moment unfold with greater ease and with a higher likelihood that your needs will be met.

11. Cultivate self-referral.

The world is coming at us at lightning speed. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing the outside world is in control of our inner dialog and we are at its mercy. By developing clarity regarding what is within our control and what is not, (grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference), we cultivate our own innate empowerment and stress less about things beyond our control.

12. Practice gratitude .

Having a daily gratitude practice allows us to see the magnificence in each moment and can shift our sense of internal optimism or pessimism to a more life-affirming place. Seeing the silver linings in each moment allows us to be more creative with our problem solving and shift from a “poor me” mindset to a “lucky me” perspective. In the realization of our good fortune and blessings, we feel the positive effects of our actions and connect to greater joy in our lives.

13. Keep breathing.

Most of the time our breathing is shallow or erratic. Making a conscious decision to take a few deep, relaxing breaths –especially long exhales- activates our parasympathetic nervous system and offsets the initial surge of the sympathetic nervous system and the subsequent constricting physical effects. Sixteen seconds of deep breathing fills your body with nourishing, calming oxygen and activates your relaxation response by quickly introducing a pattern interrupt into the first few conditioned waves of emotion or tension. Proactively practice 16seconds throughout the day at 10, 2, 4,and 6 o’clock and whenever you find yourself in an idle moment – in your car, waiting on a line, while your on hold, etc. Here are several powerful destressifying breathing practices:

Doorknob breathing – based on 16seconds, every time you enter a room you can shift your energy. As you grip the doorknob – breathe in; as you turn the handle – hold your breath; as you open the door – exhale; as you step in and close the door behind you, hold the breath out. Your next full breath will bring new energy into the room as you enter. And more importantly, you wont be bringing the thoughts, conversations, or energy that you had only 17 seconds before.
Quiet continuous breathing – Slowly breathe in as quietly as you can and then slowly breathe out with the same silence. Make believe you are trying to create the quietest process you know how. Do this for just a few minutes and you will feel your body and mind slow down to a place of calm.
Sipping breath – Purse your lips as if you sipping a hot cup of tea. Take long, slow deep breaths in through your pursed lips. This will totally release tension and help you transcend any anxiety of the moment. To add more force to the practice, as you breathe in, clench your fists and arms and bring them to the side of your face. As you exhale release the tension in your hands and arms and gently let them rest by your side.

Gargling breath – With your mouth wide open, take a long slow deep breath in and count until your chest fully expands. And as you exhale make sure that your out-breath lasts one second longer than your inhale. Practice this for a minute. Remember if at any time, you get lightheaded STOP. Take a seat. And just breathe normally.
Ocean breath – In this meditation we recreate the powerful physical and emotional nourishment of swimming underwater. The ideal way to practice this meditation is to fill your bathtub with 4 inches of water. Lay down on your back until your ears are totally submerged under water. Just lie there and breathe through you nose for a few minutes and you will experience what it’s like to go scuba diving. Obviously, we can’t carry our bathtub around with us – but you can simulate the powerful bodymind benefits of ocean breathing by simply placing your palms over your ears and taking long slow breaths in and out of your nose.

Alternate nostril breathing – This is a very calming and centering practice that actually aligns the right and left hemispheres of your brain in only a few moments. You can use it as a relaxing tool before beginning your meditation; when you find yourself overwhelmed in the middle of the day; or to ease mental chatter, anxiety, or emotional turbulence before going to bed. Known in Sanskrit as Nadi Shodhana or “clearing the channels”, alternate nostril breathing is best done with your eyes closed.
Here’s how it works:

Gently rest your pointer against the bridge of your nose as if you were about to sneeze. Then, hold your right thumb over your right nostril, pressing it closed, and inhale deeply through your left nostril. When you have inhaled as far as you can, close off your left nostril with your pointer, release your right thumb from your right nostril, then exhale smoothly through your right nostril. After a full exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, then, close it off with your right thumb at the peak of your inhalation. Release the pressure on your left nostril, and exhale through the left. Then inhale through the left nostril, and at the peak of the inhale… close it off again with your pointer. Release your thumb’s pressure on the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat the alternating pattern as long as you like – ideally for 3 minutes or more- breathing in and out through the open nostril, then closing it with your thumb or pointer as you breathe in and out through the alternate open nostril. Your breathing should be effortless, as your attention stays on the gentle inflow and outflow.

Metta Meditation – For this breathing meditation, you’ll start by taking a long inhale and bringing metta (an ancient Pali word for unconditional loving kindness) into your heart and then, as you exhale, radiate it out. You do this by sitting for five minutes and focusing your attention on loving thoughts and feelings. Use deep inhales to fill yourself up with loving thoughts, then let that love flow through you and out of you in a long exhale.

Then begin the metta meditation by taking a long slow deep breath in and feel the metta of the universe come into your heart. As you exhale, radiate the metta back out. First to your loved ones…then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to your friends…then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to your acquaintances… then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to those who are suffering… then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to those with whom you have a grievance.. then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to those you’ll never meet… then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to all sentient beings… then inhale the unconditional love of the universe and radiate metta to every corner of the galaxy. Then breathe in the unconditional love of the universe from every corner of the galaxy into your heart and sit with that gratitude. When you do it in a group – at the end, after you’ve inhaled the metta from every corner of the galaxy, radiate it out to everyone in the room with your final exhale and just sit with that for a minute as you feel metta pour into from everyone in the room.

Breathing is key to destressifying. And it comes naturally – you may just have gotten out of practice. By maintaining awareness on our breathing throughout the day, we will naturally destressify.

14. Go back & change things.

Often times, once the regrettable comment leaves our lips or the unfortunate decision begins to take hold, we shut down and ruminate on it for hours, days, months and even years. But you are never really stuck and even though our actions are carved in stone, we can always revisit the scenario and apologize, request another chance, and re-cast the trajectory of your words and actions. The ancient Indian text The Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 2, verse 47 says, “We have total control over our actions; but no control over the fruit of our actions.” And yet we spend so much time in the fruit – the part we can’t control. Instead, let’s go back in and perform new actions, make new decisions to shift our lives from where they are to where we’d like to be!