Stress and anxiety are all too common feelings these days. It can come from anywhere. A difficult project at work. Making an important decision. Heck, even watching the news these days can trigger it! Stress can wreak havoc on you, emotionally and physically. It can cause chronic inflammation, raise your blood pressure, and cause unwanted skin issues.
Thankfully, there are a lot of different methods that can help us relax and return our bodies and our skin to a state of calm, making coping with daily stress just a little easier. And who couldn’t benefit from a little self-care?
Sound baths are a form of meditation, a deep listening experience that allows the body to fully rest. Sound meditation can involve a variety of musical instruments but probably the most familiar is the Himalayan or Tibetan singing bowls. The term sound bath comes from the process of the sound waves from singing bowls washing over the body.
The benefits of sound and music healing practices date back thousands of years. And now science is catching up. Recent studies have shown that sound baths reduce tension in the mind and the body.
Meditation is a great way to help manage stress and improve your overall wellbeing but for a lot of people – it can be difficult. If you are easily distracted or have a hard time sitting still, sound meditation may be for you! A sound bath is essentially a meditation class where you are guided into a deep meditative state while being surrounded by ambient sound played by instructors (or sound therapists.) Different musical tools are used, whether singing bowls, crystal bowls, cymbals and even gongs. The sounds are not melodic but repetitive notes at different frequencies that vibrate through the body, helping guide you to the meditative and restorative state.
Sound vibrations are best received when experienced in person from live instruments but can still be impactful, although less visceral, when done through computer speakers or earbuds. In person, the sound vibrations are much more intense and can feel like they are coming from inside the body, physically releasing tension from the chest.
Also known as square breathing, box breathing is a breathing technique that can help heighten performance and concentration. It is a powerful stress reliever that can really help clear a busy mind. It’s easy to do and anyone can benefit from it - it’s been used by everyone from athletes to U.S. Navy Seals.
Research has shown that intentional deep breathing helps to calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system (which regulates involuntary body functions.) Deep breathing can help lower blood pressure and provide an almost immediate sense of calm. Box breathing is not only an excellent treatment for anxiety disorders, it can also help with insomnia, by helping you calm your nervous system before bed and has even been used to help with pain management.
Box breathing is simple and can be done anywhere. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Inhale deeply, filling your lungs while counting slowly to four. Then hold that air in your lungs for a count of four. Slowly exhale counting to four and then finally, hold your lungs empty for a count of four. And then repeat until you feel calm return. If you find it challenging, you can start with a lower count and as you master it, you can increase your count to 5 or 6!
Follow the 3-3-3 Rule
Feeling totally overwhelmed? Mind going a million miles an hour? Try the 3-3-3 rule. Look around and name three things you see. Next, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body (can be anything – wiggle your fingers, clench your toes, shrug your shoulders.) This quick and easy mental trick helps you to center your mind and bring you back to the present.
Just do something
Sometimes just doing something different can help. Stand up, take a walk to the kitchen or get outside – anything that interrupts your train of thought. By breaking your concentration on whatever is stressing you out, you can regain a sense of control. Laughing is also great for an anxious mind…there is even research that found that humor can help lower anxiety as much as exercise can. So, give yourself a break and cue up a funny video or show!