Healthy Monday: Try Falling for Autumn

healthy monday From our friends at the Monday Campaigns:

Happy Healthy Monday!

Autumn is the most soothing of the seasons: The lush of greens of springtime have given way to regal shades of auburn, gold, and crimson; the air is crispy and chill; the swimsuits and warm-weather tops have been stored away make room for light jackets and worn-out jeans.

The changing of the seasons provides an opportunity to reflect and recognize the changes occurring in our own lives. Embracing this time of year as a period of introspection and mindfulness can uplift the spirit and prepare us for the winter months ahead.

See our mindfulness practice for appreciating the sensations of the season this Monday.

Healthy Monday: Ease Stress Through Empathy

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From our friends at the Monday Campaigns:

The practice of cultivating empathy — or stepping into somebody else’s shoes — enables us to become more attuned to other people’s feelings and perspectives, especially when their points of view are different from ours. This not only helps others to feel supported, it ultimately benefits our own lives by strengthening our relationships and inspiring collaboration, whether at home or at work.

To reduce stress, find greater meaning in your activities, and strengthen your bond with colleagues and acquaintances try this simple empathy practice.

DeStress Monday: Try Square Breathing

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From our friends at DeStress Monday:

Square Breathing Exercise

It’s no secret that deep breathing exercises are a great way to reduce stress. Taking a few moments to concentrate and breathe deeply calms not just the mind but the body. There are several ways to practice deep breathing but it’s always a good idea to try something new. This Monday, try square breathing when you need to take a moment to settle down.

Square breathing is a great way to refocus your mind if you’ve been having a hectic day. Multitasking and busy schedules can be demanding on your brain and leave you in a fog. It’s important to take a brief break and clear your head before diving back into business as usual. You don’t need a visual aid but it can give you something on which to concentrate while you learn a new way to deep breathe.

Here is the practice:

  1. Inhale for a count of 4
  2. Hold for a count of 4
  3. Exhale for a count of 4
  4. Hold for a count of 4

While breathing and counting, imagine a square. If you’re using a visual aid, follow the four sides of a square. Each step is a corner of the square; as you count to four, move along one side of the square at a time. You can use anything square-shaped around you – a post-it note, a mouse pad, etc. Another way to visualize while square breathing is to imagine you’re running bases in a baseball diamond in slow motion.

Inhale and run to first base… two… three… four…
Hold and run to second base… two… three… four…

To start out, we recommend using GIFs that can provide you with a point of concentration. After a few sessions of square breathing, you’ll be able to visualize the square in your mind while breathing deeply.

This Monday is a great day to be square and destress!

Healthy Monday: Try Belly Breathing to Destress

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From our friends at The Monday Campaigns:

Heart racing? Feeling overwhelmed? Use Monday to practice belly breathing as an easy and proven way to reduce stress.

Stress can have a toll on your body and on your heart health. It also impacts your mood and general wellness.

Belly breathing is a simple antidote to stress. It works by activating your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps relieve muscle tension all over your body, as well as lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Try some belly breathing to quickly get back to calm:

  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  2. Close your eyes and mouth. Place your awareness on your breath and not on your surroundings.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, making sure your diaphragm, or abdomen, is expanding and not your chest.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
  5. Continue in this way for a few breaths, or until you feel calm.

An added benefit is that by focusing your thoughts on the sensations of breathing, or even counting your breaths, you also help settle your mind. The next time you feel your heart race or your stress start to spike, do some belly breathing and feel the needle return to normal.

To calm your body and mind, enjoy these DeStress Monday animated breathing GIFs.

 

Destress Monday: Breathe!

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From our friends at Healthy Monday:

Are you drowsy during a meeting or sidetracked by distractions? Try some controlled deep breathing this Monday to fire you up and help make you more productive.

Revive! Try this easy one-minute breathing exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime:

  1. Inhale to the count of two
  2. Exhale to the count of two
  3. Inhale to the count of two
  4. Exhale to the count of three
  5. Inhale to the count of two
  6. Exhale to the count of four
  7. Inhale to the count of two
  8. Exhale to the count of five

Do it several times until you feel a boost of energy.

Deep breathing is an ancient practice that helps you focus and re-energize in modern life. And it works! Researchers have found it can optimize your heart and lungs as well as your autonomic nervous system, which controls your breathing, digestion, and heartbeat.

After this short breathing exercise, you’ll rejuvenate and be ready to dive into Monday and the rest of your week. Find more breathing exercises to destress, like square breathing, here.

 

Destress Monday: Stop Stress in Its Tracks

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There are many reasons to learn how to manage your daily stress, mostly because stress generally disrupts our day. But the physical symptoms of stress may be causing bigger problems than just a distraction. This Monday is a perfect opportunity to start incorporating a few simple practices into your day that can stop stress before it affects your physical health.

February is American Heart Month and it’s good to be aware of how stress affects heart health. Your body reacts to stress by releasing adrenaline, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Left unmanaged, that can lead to damage to your cardiovascular system. Other coping behaviors that may be less healthy choices – such as drinking, smoking, or overeating – can lead to heart-related problems.

However, there are easy ways to stop stress in its tracks before it can cause you or your heart any problems. Once you have identified a stressful situation, try to find a way to step aside for a moment. All you need is a quiet minute by yourself to take a few deep breaths and clear your head. If you can, sit in a chair or lean against a wall and close your eyes. As you breathe in and out, repeat the words “in” and “out” to correspond with your breath. Make this your only focus for at least a minute. You can also use a visual aid to help you change your focus from your stress to calm.

For more information visit destressmonday.org

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From the Mondaycampaigns.org:

Don’t fight the negative moments, embrace them. It may sound strange, but this exercise can actually help you get through a tough situation. Rather than ignoring your bad feelings, accept them and then move on. Allow the negativity to pass through you, then you can make room for the positive aspects in life.

Read more on our blog!

Spend Monday Smiling!

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“It takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown!” This is a common expression used to encourage people to look at the bright side and focus on the positive. But what if the physical act of smiling actually had a positive effect on your brain? Research says that it just might! Start this Monday with a smile to give your brain a pick-me-up!

Read more here.

Destress Monday: Find Your Happy Place

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If you’re already dreading the week ahead when you wake up Monday morning, take a deep breath and find your happy place. Guided visualization is a relaxation tool used to reduce stress and provide a calming effect on the entire body. Rather than head into your week in a frazzled state, take five minutes this Monday to create a safe haven in your mind.

Read more here.

Don’t Worry About the Small Stuff

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This Monday, begin to take better control of your life and your happiness. Let’s look at ways to defuse nagging little worries that seem to weigh heavily on our minds. Obsessing over tiny details can flood the body with stress hormones. When taken to extreme, these stress hormones can increase your risk of heart disease and weaken your immune system. So, isn’t it time you cut your worries down to size? With some practice and persistence, you’ll soon be agonizing less and feeling much more confident.