These be some trying times, ain’t they? In our personal lives, we are seeing friends and family breaking down. So many fans covered in so much shit. And politically, culturally, globally, locally, it feels like shifting sands underfoot. Many of us are tuning in (consciously or not) to the rather chaotic energy that is swirling ‘round and ‘round right now. More than ever, it is important to stay sane and grounded so that we can continue to show up as the best versions of ourselves. Our loved ones need us, and even more importantly, we need us, too.
Silence is Golden and the Morning is Magic.
Giving yourself even 5 minutes of silence each morning will help keep your thoughts from racing out of control. If you can manage it, 10-15 minutes is even better. Don’t try to control your thoughts. Just sit in silence, with your eyes closed. Ask for guidance, even if you don’t believe anyone is listening.
- You’ll be more open to creative problem solving
- You’ll be less prone to catastrophizing
- You’ll become solution oriented
- You’ll stay cool as a cucumber
Of course, yoga, chi gong, swimming, and hiking in nature are all wonderful for relieving stress, but just 15 minutes of brisk walking (30 is preferred) will make a big difference in your stress level, especially in the evening after a craptastic day.
- Play with a dog, cat, or other furry or feathered animal friend. Hijack your neighbor’s pet if need be. Connecting with another spirit will bring you right into this moment and take you out of the fear, dread, and anticipation of the future or the remorse, sadness, and possible shame of the past.
Spend a few minutes every day in some creative endeavor. It can be cooking, doodling, strumming your guitar, making a photograph, or learning something new. This brings you squarely into the present moment, and calms the mind.
When we operate in chronic overwhelm, it’s easy to ignore the signals your body is sending you, asking for nourishment and hydration. When we are stressed, we need more protein to keep muscles firing and more glucose to feed the brain.
- Protein is your friend. Eating high quality protein throughout the day will keep you feeling like your feet are planted firmly on the ground.
- Eat fruit on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning. Fruit converts directly to glucose, the only fuel your brain can effectively use. And stressful situations require more, better, and quicker thinking. (Tip: Don’t combine fruit with other foods, or risk fermentation and toxification in the GI tract.)
- Eat mindfully. Instead of inhaling that cheezeburger behind the wheel as you haul ass to your next appointment, take a few moments to actually see, smell, and savor the food that is literally keeping you alive. Be grateful. Then inhale it.
- When we are super stressed, we want relief. Plain and simple. However, reaching for that cookie, bagel, coffee, or booze will only add internal stress to what your body is experiencing from the external world. These high carb, (short term) feel good foods will only make you feel worse as your body tackles the resulting inflammation and sugar roller coaster. They’ll also contribute to your stress belly; the hard-to-lose belly fat that results from chronically elevated levels of cortisol.
Most of us don’t spend much, if any, time noticing our breath. We tend to hold ourselves tight, and under stress, are often only barely breathing.
- Try this. Inhale normally and notice where your breath lands. If it stops in the upper chest, and not the lower diaphragm (by your stomach), you are essentially holding your breath and starving your brain and muscles from precious oxygen.
- Set a timer on your phone to alert you to remember to breathe. Plant your feet on the ground. Take a moment to just inhale slowly, trying to get your breath all the way to your stomach. Don’t force it. Do this three times in a row and notice your renewed energy and alertness. Repeat throughout the day.
When you cook for yourself, you’ll eat better and healthier, and enjoy your food more. Unless you’re a terrible cook or absentmindedly mistake the sugar for the salt. (Mindful, remember?) Better yet, cook for friends. Especially me.
- Stress causes inflammation in your body (a major factor in many diseases). By eating a low inflammatory diet (low sugar, caffeine, booze, grains, and white carbs) you are giving your brain and body a leg up when it comes to functioning at peak potential.
- Cooking for and with friends will strengthen your ties to your community, which will help you to stay grounded.
Give Yourself a Break Already!
As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Sometimes stressful situations arise in our lives that leave us feeling powerless, ineffective, or frustrated that we are not able to perform at our best. It can often be helpful to imagine yourself taking two big steps back from the current situation so as to view it from a wider angle. You might find that this will give you a more reasonable perspective of the entire situation. You might see that you are doing the best you can, and that tomorrow is a new day.
Lastly, if you feel like the stress of your life is no longer manageable, or it is seriously impeding the activities of daily living, you may need a little extra help temporarily. There’s no shame in this. Struggling with the side effects of shit covered fans will often prolong your stressful situation, leaving you more depleted and less able to navigate to the solutions that will make your life more complete. There are no shortages of really great supplements on the market to assist with the anxiety, sleep disruption, and low energy that often accompany chronic stress.
Check out my Go To list of supplements!
And please enjoy my personal recipe to stay grounded daily, despite what shit may be flying through the air.