It’s no secret that stress can make you sick. Everybody’s talking about it and if you don’t believe me, Google has over 300,000 articles to prove it. We live in an overstimulated, overstressed, and often spiritually and soulfully undernourished society, so quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to stay healthy.
But I’m not here to just stress you out more. Instead I offer to each of you one humble suggestion:
TURN AWAY THE TOXIC.
In other words, become aware of what is preventing you from being your best, and rid it from your life.
Sounds easy, I know. Isn’t easy. Yup, I know.
But what if you could make it easier?
The truth is, one of the easiest, most overlooked ways to kick an unhealthy habit is to address the stress associated with it first.
But most of us don’t take that route. We instead head straight to the source (the habit) and try to remove that directly. While it’s often ideal to make a clean break, anyone who’s ever been addicted to anything (or, even anyone) understands the challenge. After all, immediately banishing every “bad” thing – from an illness, to a not-awesome-but-necessary current job to copious servings of cake batter ice cream – just isn’t always practical.
Instead, consider working from the inside-out: focus on alleviating not the external thing that’s bothering you, but rather the internal stress that flares up.
Identify the stress. Grab it. Get it out of your body.
This can be a figurative or a physical detox. Sometimes you need to mentally exorcise your stressor, and other times you need to exercise it out. Both are effective, healthy coping skills to rid yourself of the toxicity that creeps in, digs deep and sets up shop uninvited. Professional assistance aside, here are some specific suggestions on removing stress from your most precious property:
- YOGA: Yoga is a killer combo of movement and meditative breathing, focus and release that provides an incredible trashing of your troubles. Classes can leave you more peaceful, sweat-soaked (which actually eliminate toxins), or both. Additionally, many teachers offer “intentions” for practice, such as kindness or gratitude, that help you gain perspective on problems and priorities. P.S. Not sure where to get started? Look up local classes or try one at home via Glo.
- WRITE: Anyone who knows me well, knows how I feel about getting grievances out of your head and heart, and down on paper. Whether you use a proper journal, a basic notebook, a fluorescent Post-It or an email to yourself, whether you keep it for decades or shred it a few minutes later, whether it’s good or bad or clear or incomprehensible, writing is a fantastic way to work through just about anything.
- EAT & DRINK WELL: Consuming healthy foods and staying hydrated helps you feel more wholesome overall and best part? It’s one thing we can totally control, and can easily become one less thing to worry about. Regular, balanced eating and lots of H2O can also serve as a role model for the rest of our behavior throughout the day.
- TRAVEL: The photo above is of Big Sur aka one of my favorite places on the planet. It’s my safety spot; where I go to get my solid ground back, to find simplicity and, yes, to detox. Temporarily trading in the regular world for a change in scenery can spell spaciousness, comfort, self-care and fresh perspective.
- ART: Break out the markers, pencils, glue. Invest in paints, an easel, a coloring book. Take photographs. Dance it out. Sing loudly in your car. Artistic activity lets your creative juices flow and offers a blank canvas for self-expression. Express that stress anyway you want!
- MEDITATE: You knew this one was coming… Meditating is part of yoga, but even if you’re not interested in practicing the yoga postures, you can certainly sit still. And while you’ll find lots of complicated instructions and classes for meditation, simply sitting still covers the basics. Find a space to chill out, prop up your sit bones on a folded blanket or cushion so that they are a few inches higher than your ankles. Let your hands rest either on your knees, in a mudra, or however they’re comfortable. Close your eyes and extend your spine. Breathe. Observe. Let your thoughts flow in and out (they will, as will panic, boredom, or mind-fidgeting, which is all totally fine). Focus on the breath. If you hate it, aim for just two minutes. If you love it, set your own limit.
Go ahead and give one (or more) of these methods a shot. Be patient with yourself and your process. Keep working on your big-picture search for a less-stressed life, from the inside-out – because when you’re inner world is more peaceful, so is everything else.