As a Nutritional Therapist, I look at lifestyle as well as diet interventions to achieve and maintain wellness and I believe that bringing stillness into your life every day can help to relieve stress and anxiety.
During the last few days I have been reading The 4 Pillar Plan by the inspirational Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and he talks about how four key pillars – relax, eat, move and sleep – can lead you to a healthier and longer life. And I have to add that I believe they will also lead to a happier life.
Stillness. Meditation. Mindfulness. I’m sure you have heard of these various ways in which we can bring calm into the hectic lives that we lead today but how do we do it? How do we find time to be still? In Dr. Chatterjee’s relax pillar, stillness doesn’t have to take long – let’s all promise ourselves now that we will find between 2 and 10 minutes every day to be still.
Lowering our stress and anxiety can have far-reaching effects on our wellness; it has even been seen to affect our gut microbiome for the better. So here are three ways to use those 2, 5 or 10 minutes every day.
• Put your headphones on, close your eyes and listen to your favourite music for 10 minutes. But don’t just listen to it in the background whilst thinking about your day; feel the drumbeat, hear the breathing between words, listen to the vocals, get lost in the moment, be present.
• Download an app such as Headspace, Buddhify, Simply Being, Calm and do 10 minutes of guided meditation every morning. It will start your day the right way. It may take a few days to get the hang of it and feel the benefits but what have you got to lose?
• And finally Dr. Chatterjee’s 3-4-5 breathing. Breathe in for a count of 3, hold for 4 and breathe out for 5. Do this for 2 minutes and you will activate your parasympathetic nervous system – the one that tells your body to relax! When you start to see results you might want to increase it to 10 or even 15 minutes. His patients have seen a reduction in stress, anxiety and have even slept better by doing this!
You need to keep it up – same time every day – to create a habit and train your body in the art of stillness. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training and this is the same. And mix it up; try different methods to find one that works for you. Just don’t give up and I’m sure you will soon feel the benefits.