I invite you to stop whatever you’re doing. Take a seat. Take a deep breath. Take a moment to absorb what you’re about to read. You deserve it.
Relax the space between your eyebrows. Soften the little muscles around your eyes. Unclench your jaw. There you go….feel a bit better?
I’m no expert in the art of letting go, but I’ve acquired some really simple and powerful tools for relaxation as a Yoga and Meditation Teacher and Student. These practices – which I’ll get into in a moment – have helped me step away from the rat race and into a space of ease.
It’s a daily practice and it’s not perfect but, I’m making progress. It’s not about giving up, as my once ego-driven Type A, Aries personality would have me believe. It’s about softening into the moment. Meeting ourselves where we truly are. And going with the flow of our lives – rather than always swimming upstream.
Afterall, life’s a marathon not a race, right? Let’s take our time with our tasks, relationships and goals so we can actually enjoy the process.
Here’s a few things we can all do to chill out when we’re up against it:
A modern-day Picasso, some would say.
I have a laminated cue card with my chicken-scratch handwriting on it that says, “I am right where I need to be.” Sometimes it’s hanging out on my dresser, sometimes it’s in my bag, sometimes it’s in my pocket. Wherever this little guy goes, it reminds me to come back to the present moment and trust that whatever needs to get done, will get done in perfect timing. You can write, say or sing your own mantra – whatever makes you happy. “Be here, now,” “just breathe,” “you’ve got this,” are some examples of sayings that can keep us grounded. What resonates with you?
Be Smart with your Schedule
Don’t cram a 4 hour business meeting into your calendar, if you know you’ve only got 3 hours to spare, okay? I know, I know – easier said than done. We want to do so much with so little time because it gives us a sense of control and power (or, at least that’s how I felt). But, we’re not getting anywhere any faster by doing this. When you’re mapping out your day, week or month, try to look at your schedule as if it were a friend’s. Would you tell them it looks manageable or completely insane? Give yourself the same advice. Schedule buffer times in there – you know, to get from that coffee date to that yoga class across town with a few minutes to spare. Be realistic and be kind to yourself.
Set boundaries with your Phone
Who knew such a tiny, little shiny thing could bring on so much stress! A HUGE time-stealer and tension-bringer for me is my phone. If I don’t set limits around when and how I use it, I can easily spend hours upon hours scrolling through my social media feeds, refreshing my email inbox and reading mind-numbing content online. It’s information overload and my mind and body eventually resent me for all the stimulation. So, I turn my phone on “do not disturb” every night around 9 or 10 pm and that’s it. No more calls, texts or surfing. Just me, myself and I. I also refuse to check my phone right when I get up. I hit the off button on my alarm, and then put it away. I take the next 15-30 minutes to stretch, meditate and shower.
Do Some Yoga and/or Meditation
Me teaching some zenned out yogis in Oakville, Ontario 2018.
I didn’t put this one first on the list because I didn’t want y’all to think this post was geared to yogis. These self-care practices can work for everyone – the bendy and inflexible alike. Take a gentle yoga or meditation class and see what it feels like to welcome a sense of surrender into your mind and body. If you can’t do Downward Dog like Acrobatic Ally can, no sweat. Meet yourself where you are and do what you can. The goal is to breathe and be compassionate with thoughts and how they’re showing up in your body. Soften where you can and do your best. Nervous about taking a class with real humans? There’s countless videos on YouTube for free that teach you how to stretch and breathe from the comfort of your own home. One day, I swear I’ll share some on there.
The long and short of it....
…Okay, the long of it (I swear I meant to make this post shorter). We don’t have to feel overwhelmed and out of control. It is within our power to slow down, create a lifestyle that brings us ease and say no to the people, places and things that don’t. Take a deep breath and keep moving forward at a mindful, gentle pace knowing, really and truly, that it’ll all get done eventually. And, you are right where you need to be.