April is National Stress Awareness month, and in Canada, over one in four workers report being highly stressed (StatCan, 2010) every day of their lives. Recent studies have shown that stress has a direct impact on mental and physical wellbeing, sometimes even encouraging poor lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, drug use or bad eating habits. Unsurprisingly, the problem of stress is now no longer just limited to the world of adults, with 49 per cent of post secondary students reporting more than average stress levels in 2016.
Madeleine Marentette, owner of Grail Springs Wellness Retreat shares five beginner meditation exercise recommendations you can do at home to de-stress, calm your nerves and feel a little more joy in your life.
Immerse Yourself in a Relaxation Bath
Take a warm bath in Epsom salts, Dead Sea or Himalayan salt. Download some healing music, light a few soy candles (no perfume) and drop some relaxing essential oils (like Lavendar) into the bath. Give yourself at least 20 to 30 minutes and enjoy.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Visit your local flower shop on your way home from work and treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers. This sounds far too simple to have an effect, but who doesn't like to receive flowers and feel the joy they bring to us? Place them somewhere you will see them often; on the kitchen counter, living room table or on your bed table.
Stay Clean and Organize
It's important that our home is treated like a sanctuary. After all, it is where we spend most of our lives and it is the only environment we can truly control. It is interesting to note that our home, office and even the interior of our car is a reflection of how we might be thinking and feeling at a particular time in our life. Is your personal space organized, clean and inspiring, or is it in disarray, unclean and uninspiring? You may not recognize it, but your personal space may be adding to your stress. Take a day to address one space at time, which can be therapeutic in itself. Purge, donate, toss, clean, organize and smudge. Breathe new life in to the space, allow in some fresh air, and get things in order. This is highly beneficial to clearing a cluttered mind, enabling us to relax, be in the flow of creativity, and deal with issues more efficiently when they come up.
Words, Mantras and Prayer
Adopt a mantra. We know words can provide positive affirmations and act as reminders to take action. Choose a few words that resonate with you, how you wish to feel, a goal you want to work on and an outcome you want achieve. Words are powerful symbols of thoughts, so choose those that will help you to stay calm, peaceful, and committed to your own wellbeing. Affirm yourself every day until it becomes a way of life.
Noble Silence Practice
Once you have completed some of the simpler tips noted above, schedule a day when you are able to stay at home and really slow things down. Decide on a time between two and three hours where you will choose not to speak. Turn off the phone and shut down the computers. Go about your business doing chores, laundry or making a meal. Take this time to invoke silence, listen and just observe. Watch your incoming thoughts and allow them float away – don't give them any more thought. This practice can be profound and bring us endless realizations following this silent time. Silence takes practice just like training a muscle. The benefits are tremendous to the mind, and will ultimately bring clarity and calm into our lives.