How many times have you come home and just collapsed onto the couch after just a crappy day at work? About the only amount of energy you actually have left is to find the half empty bottle of wine and fill the glass to the brim. Sound familiar? I've totally been there!
Back in the corporate days, drinking a glass of wine (possibly two depending on how bad the day was), became my way of trying to slow down. I almost felt non-functional until the first gulp. Unfortunately... turns out this is not the healthiest habit to fall into. But whilst I completely understand the desperation to just chill out and unwind at the end of the day, alcohol is not a very effective way of relaxing the body and mind. If anything, we're just numbing ourselves to the dramas of the day just gone, or what might lay ahead. Believe me, I know what it feels like to be in this frame of mind.
What I've learned over the years (through a lot of trial and error with my body) is that alcohol is never a long term solution to stress relief. But we all need an outlet as feeling like you’re on overdrive 24/7 is just as unhealthy, if not worse.
You see, when our adrenal system is on overdrive, EVERYTHING starts to fall apart. Our eating habits are all over the place, we’re irritable, are short tempered and tend to snap at those closest to us… the list is never ending. Stress is also hugely responsible for heart disease, one of Australia’s biggest killers, hence the urgency to bring those cortisol levels down!
For many years I couldn’t work out why my weight fluctuated despite near killing myself at the gym 6 mornings a week, why I struggled with sleep and why I was unable to sit still for more than two minutes. Upon doing a complete overhaul of my life, I came to realise stress was at the bottom of everything. It wasn't until I realised this (after spending a small fortune over the years) that I began making fundamental changes - I’m talking leaps and bounds - in my life, for I knew if I didn’t, then something would have to give… and probably not in a good way.
Without feeling like you need to submit your resignation letter today to get out of a job you despise, I first recommend learning to draw your attention deeper inward. Because at the end of the day, it turns out there is nothing out there that can change the way you think, feel, behave. It all needs to come from within. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! We would love to have a quick fix answer but truth be told it really does come down to mindset and breath. So often we go through the day without taking even one deep inhalation and exhalation. Our breath slows all the systems in the body naturally so it makes sense why we need to breathe more! This is your detox, your getaway retreat, you treat to self - breathing!
So with that said, a beautiful asana to help calm the mind and slow the breath is Paschimottanasana (see picture). A forward fold which naturally slows the heart by lowering it to the ground. Here, the whole body is given a chance to slow down. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes. What’s important is keeping the straight spine and then working to slowly fold the body. In time, when the back and hamstrings release, you can come to rest on your thighs and calves. After 9 breaths, when you come up, the whole body will have come to a much more relaxed state allowing you to continue functioning despite feeling like the world is falling apart. Done daily for a minute or two, you will begin to notice huge benefits in the body, breath and mind. Give it a try and see!
What’s your experience with stress been? And how have you learned to manage it? I would love to hear from you!
Sending huge hugs and relaxing vibes.