10 Tips to Manage Stress with the Power of Nature
The days go so fast. Doesn’t seem real, yet it is. No wonder we often feel that we have no time to do the things we need to do. Or want to do!
This speeding up of time is a significant stressor in our daily lives.
The World Health Organization says stress is the #1 cause of illness worldwide. Why? Because it lowers our immune system.
After some research this past summer (thank you for all of you who participated) it seems clear that there could be a way to manage stress that feels so natural…in fact, by tapping into the power of nature. Yes, the Five Elements.
My book on the Five Elements, called Creating Luminous Spaces, was published last year. In it, I share personality traits according to each Element and invite you to identify your True Nature Element…the core, driving force throughout your life.
But through working with my clients I also noticed, that in addition to learning about their True Nature and all the benefits of that (self-understanding, relationships, career choices, to name a few), I found that they also could benefit from learning ways to manage stress.
So there’s no better time than the holiday season to share some tips on how to feel more peace and calm.
1. Be aware. Most importantly, we need to recognize when we start feeling overwhelmed.
2. Stop and breath. Stop, close your eyes (if possible) and breathe a few deep breaths.
3. Ground into this moment. This might sound counter-intuitive, since this specific moment is what is causing you stress! However, stress is caused primarily by issues from the past or worry about the future. You’re in your head, not the present moment. So, feel your physical body, tap into your five senses. Notice the feel of your feet firmly on the ground, the sensation of your clothes on your skin. Notice any sounds, smells, or tastes.
4. Take a break. If possible, or soon after, make sure you get outside. Take a brief walk or sit outside if that is all that you can do now. Again, tap into your five senses. Notice the sun, the quality of light. The sound of the wind and wildlife. Look at the clouds moving or squirrels playing in the trees. Notice the time of day, the season or how you can tell the next season is approaching. Notice any smells of soil, flowers or the breeze.
Some great tips to make into habits throughout your everyday life:
5. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness might bring images of meditation to your mind. And that’s not wrong. Meditation is a tool to provide mindfulness, but there are other ways. Such as I noted in #3: Ground into the moment. But this is something that you incorporate throughout your day, whenever you remember. Stop from your work or conversation and look out the window. Use your fives senses, etc. Remember the old adage “stop and smell the roses?” I dare you to do this! Your day will almost certainly be more positive and upbeat when you do!
6. Be aware of your energy and how it impacts others. Notice how you feel around certain people and situations. How are you reacting to them. Check in and be sure that you are not thinking negative thoughts about them (or situation). They will most certainly feel it and (often without realizing it) respond according to your negative expectations of them.
7. Protect your energy. Often with these same people, we may be soaking up their negativity. When around people who feel like “energy vampires” I imagine a wall protecting my heart and solar plexus. Some visualize a shield of armor. Whatever feels right, use your intention to mindfully NOT soak up their bad vibes!
8. Restore with nature. I don’t buy it when people say, “I don’t have time to take a walk in the woods, because, if they didn’t have the time, they wouldn’t be walking around the mall or Walmart either. I know that is harsh, but when many people are stressed out they shop and buy things to feel better. Then when they get home, they feel just as bad. Studies show that taking a walk among trees has measurable positive impact on our body and mind. It doesn’t have to be a five-hour hike up a mountain, but walk around the park, visit an arboretum or garden, take a stroll on the beach. Get some nature in!
9. Identify your typical Stress Response. What is the typical emotion you feel when you experience everyday stress:
- stoic (emotional detach) or crushed
10. Learn one basic strategy to help manage stress levels based on your Stress Response:
- anger (Wood) – sit in the sun or light a candle and breath
- anxiety (Fire) – hold a rock or crystal in your hand and breath
- worry (Earth) – spend a few minutes gazing at the sky, birds
- stoic (emotional detach) or crushed (Metal) – spend a few minutes watching and/or hearing water (ocean, stream, fountain or even a video of one)
- fear (Water) – stand tall and visualize yourself as a tree with roots into the deep earth, sprouting towards the sky
To manage stress is a worthy endeavor. Don’t mistake these tips as too time-consuming or silly. Your health (body-mind-spirit) is too important for you to ignore signs of stress. These are powerful ways for you to feel more empowered for your health.