As we come to the end of September, I find myself thinking about summer as if it was long long ago. In our household, back to school also means back to work and to the super-busy routines of fitting everything into a day. The easy days of summer seem far away as stress starts to show up in familiar ways. Tense shoulders, difficulty sleeping, a shorter temper…we all have symptoms that tell us when we are not in our easiest groove.
Numerous studies over the years have proven the significant long-term impact of stress on our physical, emotional and mental health. We know it’s hard on us, but it can’t always be avoided.
So what can we do on a daily level to keep it in check? I work well with mental anchors, something that’s easy for me to remember. My three “M’s” are my go-to when I’m reaching for an less healthy quick-fix (extra cup of coffee and sweets I’m looking at you) or looking to manage the stress build-up when I feel myself getting bogged down.
Meditation is becoming more and more of a mainstream solution to the culture of stress we perpetuate in the West. Many studies such as this one done by Harvard medical school show that meditation practiced consistently has more benefits, including on our physical health, than taking a vacation.
We can’t always control the stresses that impact us on the external level, but we can always change how we choose to respond to them. When we fill our inner well with love, strength, peace and vitality, than we are better equipped to manage whatever comes at us in our day to day lives. Meditation promotes self acceptance, non-judgment and also invites us to seek a deeper perspective on our lives, which can bring more meaning to how we approach challenging situations in life.
I don’t know anyone who can avoid storing stress in their body. We all have our special spot. For some it’s neck tension, or lower back tightness from sitting at a desk all day. Maybe your stomach gets in knots or you have a hard time taking deep breaths. Whatever it is for you, your physical body is the first landing pad for the unresolved roil of life’s demands.
That’s why movement, of any kind, is a key tool in managing stress. Even if you don’t have the time to commit to the gym or sports, studies prove that any kind of physical movement will significantly aid the balancing of stress. Even though I drag my feet many nights to take the dog out for a walk, I always feel so much better after being out for an hour, my head is clear and the big stuff doesn’t seem so daunting.
So what can you fit into your day? A walk, a yoga class, a dance party at your desk? Get creative and commit to some movement every day.
Maybe the less obvious of the three, music is often the quickest, most reliable tool I can reach for when things are feeling rough. Baby screaming and dinner just got burned? Put on some funk music, find a new groove. Studying for a big exam, feeling overwhelmed? Maybe some Mozart or piano sonata to calm your nerves and change your approach. How about some sing-along pop tunes for the traffic grind on your commute ride home?
Whatever your style and taste, music is a universal human language that changes our brain state and brings us new energy. Proven to lower stress hormones and our heart rate, music brings us into the moment. So when all else fails, stop what your doing and put on the tunes, in just a few seconds it can change the tone (literally and figuratively) of how your day is going.
Want to do a super combo? Try all three M’s together! A musical-movement based meditation. One can often bring about the next and all three together make a super tool that makes the worst of days manageable. Make it your own and enjoy!
Level 1 and Level 2 teacher, Filmmaker, educator and mother of 2!
If you are interested in meditation classes, check our our description for the foundation course of Level 1 and find out more about the comprehensive meditation system we offer at the Training in Power Academy.