In the midst of crazy work schedules, upcoming deadlines, and not enough balance in our lives, our physiologic responses to these common stressors can have our hearts pounding and thoughts racing. We can induce another kind of physiologic response to combat these feelings and introduce feelings of calm and relaxation. Here are 4 ways to reduce anxiety to modern day stressors and quiet the mind.
1. Deep breathing exercises, where the diaphragm is fully engaged can trigger relaxation. Moving our focus to the breath and the sensation of contracting and expanding calms the mind and slows down our heart and respiratory rate.
2. Start or deepen a yoga practice. A regular hatha yoga class helps me relax since the focus on the breath and the asanas requires such thought and concentration. Shifting the focus to our practice requires being present and freeing the mind from distraction.
3. Practicing mindfulness and being in “the now” is an effective technique for relaxation. Staying still and noticing our surroundings (a cool breeze blowing or the sensation of the sun on our faces) forces us to slow down and simply observe and be present.
4. Repetitive forms of prayer also create a sense of calm. As a little girl, I remember my grandmother teaching me a prayer to St. Anthony when I had misplaced something. Saying the prayer over and over again while looking for the missing object helped keep anxiety at bay until it was recovered. The Serenity Prayer also have a very powerful calming ability. The words themselves are soothing and also remind us that when we are in unbearable situations, the power to make a necessary change lies within us.