The 5 Minute Stress Reducer

Studies are finding that stress is at the root of most ailments, many of which lead to serious disease. The common cold, weight gain, sleep problems, heart disease, and stomach issues are just a few of the ailments connected to stress. And apparently, those of us over 50 are more stressed than anyone. A recent Harvard University-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-NPR poll of about 2500 people, found that most people over 50 had experienced a “great deal” of stress in the past month. We have job losses, illness, death of a family member, menopause and let’s not forget teenagers, sometimes all happening at the same time! Mix in some dramatic political events and life can sometimes feel like too much to handle.

Usually I write about food, organic eating, or avoiding toxins but a major lesson I learned in my double cancer diagnoses was to pay close attention to stress levels and do whatever necessary to keep my life stress free. This, of course, has been impossible (Hello, teenagers!) but I continue to try. Because what I learned was that you can eat all the healthy food in the world but if your inner life (your mind) isn’t healthy, your outer life (your body) won’t be either. I worked a lot on my mental state while in treatment. I continue to have to manage it because I find that it’s when I’m under stress that I am short tempered, irritable, and reactive rather than flexible and happy.

Anyone else feeling stressed?

Here is a quick 5 minute ritual adapted from the Loving Kindness technique of Mindfulness Meditation which if practiced daily, I guarantee will help you handle the stress of our crazy world.

  1. Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be interrupted.
  2. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  3. Take three deep breaths, expanding your chest as full as it can go and releasing the air completely, then continue to breath normally.
  4. Say silently to yourself, “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” Really feel these words. Repeat them until you feel them.
  5. Next think of a friend or someone in your life and say silently to yourself, “May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.” Truly feel these well wishes for the person. Repeat with another person you know, possibly someone you are not on good terms with.
  6. Next, expand further out to your neighborhood, your city, your state, the country, the world, saying silently to yourself, “May you all be happy. May you all be well. May you all be safe. May you all be peaceful and at ease.”
  7. When complete, take 3 deep breaths again, staying aware of your body as you inhale and exhale.
  8. Remain with your eyes closed for a moment or two longer. Notice how you feel. Has your anxiety lessened? Has your upset diminished? Are you filled with peace and love for yourself and your fellow beings?

Give this practice a try whenever you feel tense. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

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