Say Ahhh

This technique is adapted from author Jonathan Goldman. He says that simple, self-created vocal sounds such as elongated vowels like “ah”, “oh” or even an “mmm” humming sound can have profound and positive effects on your physical, mental and emotional states.

For example, Goldman says these sounds can:

1. Calm your nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and can reduce levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol.
2. Increase melatonin, a hormone which helps us sleep at night.
3. Release endorphins—those self-created “feel good” brain chemicals.

Feeling stress or anxiety? Take a nice deep breath and sound forth with an “ah” a few times….or just hum for a minute or two. No one will hear you but you’ll feel a lot more relaxed almost instantly.

Remember Your Choice

Thanks to Louise Hay for this quote and affirmation to reduce stress:

“This month I replace the word should with the word could. Could lets me know that I have a choice, which means freedom. I’m now aware that everything I do in life is done by choice – and I make sure that positive thinking and an optimistic attitude guide all my decisions. Once again, life is filling me with wisdom and I am so grateful.”

Soft Breathing

This technique to help combat stress and anxiety is from Dr. Mark Hyman from his book, The UltraMind Solution:

Step 1. Put your hand on your belly and allow your abdomen to relax.
Step 2. Close your eyes or soften your focus and look at the floor a few feet in front of you.
Step 3. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Step 4. Breathe deeply into your abdomen and feel it expand as you count to 5.
Step 5. Pause for a count of 1.
Step 6. Exhale slowly to a count of 5, allowing your body to relax and release tension.
Step 7. Repeat for 5 breaths or until you feel relaxed.
 
Set an alarm on your phone to do this five times a day, every day—upon waking, before every meal, and before you go to bed.

Essential Oils: Try lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli

In a recent study, 83 participants with high blood pressure were tested to see whether essential oil inhalation would have an effect on blood pressure and cortisol levels (cortisol is the most common “stress chemical” that can be measured).

Participants were asked to inhale an essential oil blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli with the following ratio (20 : 15 : 10 : 2).

The study group experienced the relaxation effects of this particular blend of essential oils leading to:

• significant decreases in cortisol levels
• reduced blood pressure
• stress reduction

Which Thought Would Feel Better?

Thoughts create feelings. Anxiety thoughts create anxiety feelings. So when you’re feeling anxiety, you can be sure that you are having anxiety thoughts.

Ask yourself: What thought am I having right now that could be related to this anxiety? Write it down.

Then ask yourself: What different thought might feel at least a little bit better than that one? Write it down also. If fact, you might find multiple different thoughts that feel a little better.

Work on intentionally focusing on the thoughts that feel better. With practice, you will think better AND feel better!

Fire Yourself as Manager of the Universe

Do you need to fire yourself as manager of the universe? A friend told me this brought her so much peace and happiness!

Who appointed you in this role anyway? Letting go of focusing on what everyone else is saying, doing, or thinking is a great way to reduce stress. Limit your focus to yourself, and what is IN your control.

Ask a Different Question

Worry asks “What bad things might happen [in the future]?”

Instead, ask “What good things are actually happening right now [in the present]?”

If You Can’t Say Anything Kind…

Are you your own worst critic? Are you harder on yourself than you are on anyone else? Many people waste a lot of energy on negative self-talk.

That tends to cause a lot of anxiety.

Try this one simple rule to increase positive self-talk and decrease stress and anxiety:

Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend.

Wise Words from a Paper Bag

Often in life, the most important question we can ask ourselves is: do we really have the problem we think we have?

—from a paper bag at Chipotle

Notice You’re Alright Right Now

This strategy was adapted from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and author of the best-selling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.

Take a close look at this moment, right now. You are probably alright.

Anxiety is always about either:

a) the future (worries and “what if” thoughts), or

b) the past (dwelling on what happened, second-guessing, etc)

Reduce anxiety by intentionally dwelling on the NOW. In this one single moment, are you alright? It may not be perfect, or ideal. You may feel some pain in the now (physical or emotional). But are you safe and OK and basically alright just for this one moment of now?

You are probably alright. Right now. Use this strategy many times throughout your day to bring yourself back into the peace of the present moment.