We all know that stress can lead to illness, weaken your immune system, and make you irritable and no fun. And most of us want to stress less, simply because it just doesn’t feel good!
I've suffered from stress since I was a little girl. It first showed up as problems with my digestion, in my teens as recurrent throat infections, then in college as back and shoulder pain. At 19, I decided to create a practice around reducing stress, mainly through yoga, meditation and eating well. At times however, even that seemed to not be enough.
After years of experimenting with multiple ways to keep stress away, I came to realize I had the wrong focus. I realized that It wasn’t about relieving stress and tension, but about finding ways to play more so that stress would be an non-issue.
Here are 7 tips to shift your focus from stress to play:
1. Try a group meditation.
I was trained in the tradition that you never change your meditation practice and there is beauty in sitting and repeating the same mantra every day. Nonetheless, I found great great joy in adding a group meditation to my weekly routine that allows me to share with others and “do nothing” just for fun.
2. Play with your yoga practice.
Yoga is about flexibility both in body and mind, so why not challenge yourself and try a new style? If you’ve practiced hatha for a long time, why not try a kundalini class? A beginners mind allows you to be present to the benefits of a different way to approach your life and have more fun when you go back to your regular practice.
3. Set an intention for your day.
This is especially helpful when you're stressed. It sets the tone for the day and (when used throughout your day) it can completely change your mindset. It’s about paying attention to what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
4. Have lunch with a friend and talk about your next exciting trip (even if you don’t have one booked).
There is no better remedy to a racing mind than meeting up with a friend and talking about something that really excites you, like your next vacation or getaway. Even if you don’t have a plan, start to create one. It helps the stressful things seem so much less important.
5. Try flower remedies.
It’s great to avoid coffee and stimulants to reduce stress, but sometimes we also need a little extra help. Bach's Rescue Remedy is my go-to. Make this a ritual and sip a few drops in a handcrafted cup of warm water in a room lit with a nice candle.
6. Make a date with yourself.
Put it in your calendar and make it a priority: No dog, no husband, no friend, just you. Take yourself out to lunch, for a massage, or whatever makes you smile ... And make it a habit!
7. Start a night-time gratitude journal.
Having a gratitude journal (or a gratitude jar) is one of the best ways to end your day on the right tone so that your body and mind can relax and get restful sleep. It’s a quick mindset shifter that has a huge return for a couple of minutes you invest in it.