Practicing yoga is one way to help overcome stress in 2020. Exercise, meditation and breathing exercises can all be used to address stress.
“How to get rid of stress” is often the No. 1 how-to search in the week before and after New Year’s Day, according to Google’s search engine.
Stress can cause irritability, tension, stomach pain, nausea, headaches, anger, or frustration, even to the extreme of withdrawal.
If managing stress is on your “to do” list for 2020, here are some simple steps you can start today:
• Slow down. Focus on one task at a time.
• Let go of perfectionism. It’s OK to be OK.
• Laugh. Watch a funny movie or TV show.
• Choose water or herbal tea over caffeinated drinks or alcohol.
• Breathe deeply. A balanced breath exercise (see below) may help you relax.
• Move. Walk in the park or by the river. Exercise. Try yoga or tai chi.
• Meditate. Pray.
There are numerous breathing exercises you can find floating around on Facebook or YouTube. One technique borrowed from yoga is called a balanced breath. In a balanced breath, the length of the inhalation and the length of the exhalation is the same.
You can do this simply by counting; do not tense up or hold your breath:
Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
Inhale slowly to a number that is a comfortable length for you.
Exhale slowly to that same number.
Example: Inhale 1-2-3-4-5, exhale 5-4-3-2-1
Continue for several minutes or as long as you are comfortable. Do not force or strain the breath. If you lose your count, just start over. The number you choose is not important. The rhythmic breathing and especially the exhalation will bring release and relaxation.
Meditation is one of the simplest methods you can use to reduce stress. It can be done almost any place and any time you have a few minutes to sit. It does not require special props or space — just you, your mind and your breath.
“Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. Let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be. Let it be, let it be.”
Stress can also be managed through exercise or movements like tai chi or yoga, often called meditation in motion. The stretching postures in yoga cause the body to increase dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter. A typical class consists of about 50 minutes of standing, sitting and floor postures followed by 10 minutes of relaxation. You can watch a DVD or Internet video for instruction, or better yet, take a class with a live instructor.
Any one of these suggestions can help reduce stress. Two is even better. Whatever you do, do something; don’t let the holiday blues get you down.