As I walked to work today, I found myself with my shoulders crunched up by my ears and my heart ready to physically and emotionally close itself off. When it is so bitterly cold and the days are short, our minds and bodies naturally want to shut down, go inside and turn away from new experiences and opportunities. Sometimes leaving us feeling lonely — and maybe even a bit depressed (lets be honest, it’s winter and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder for a reason). When I became aware of these subtle changes, I knew I had to sit down with Julie Serot, life coach and founder of Dance Prana™, and begin to embrace some tools and strategies we already have, some you may not even know about.
If this sounds like you on a cold morning and a dark night, then these 5 Actions Steps will make a big difference in your day.
Breathing deeply is the quickest and easiest way to reduce stress and welcome in a state of complete peace and calm. Most people don’t breathe to their full capacity; the cells in your body and in your brain and not getting enough nourishment to function optimally.
The Action Step: Practice pranayama. Inhale deeply into your belly for 5 or 6 counts, hold the breath in for a count, and exhale for 5 or 6 counts, holding the breath out. It only takes 2 or 4 rounds to make a huge difference.
A quick and easy way to bring yourself out the feelings of “not good enough,” fear, or lack, and begin to attract more of what you DOWANT is to express gratitude for what you already have.
The Action Step: Everyday (or as often as needed) list a few things out that you already have in your life that are wonderful. Go down the list one by one and welcome each item into your heart. Feel completely conscious of and grateful for each item on the list that you wrote down.
3) Delegate, Renegotiate or Cancel
It’s typical in modern society that it is cool to be busy. Peopleare condemning of those who have lots of free time, out of fear ofbeing labeled “lazy”. Dr. Brené Brown is a renowned researcher and author who found throughout years of research that those who led the most happy and peaceful lives were those who could set definitive boundaries, having the self love to say no despite fears or worries that might come up when doing so.
Action Step: Start slowly by looking at just one thing a week that can be delegated, renegotiated or canceled to create more “you time”. Fill that new space with something nourishing: taking a bath, going to yoga, spending time with your family — whatever it is that you have have been putting off that will make you feel better.
4) Take a mini-adventure with friends.
When we are feeling really overwhelmed and anxious, it’s tempting to turn inward to the cave of self-destruction. That is exactly the moment to expand, reach out and connect with a friend who you know will make you laugh, listen to you and share a memory with.
The Action Step: First, notice if and when that darkness starts to close in (especially when its cold and dismal outside). Then, reach out to a friend. Make plans together that are as familiar as going grocery shopping or as novel as going somewhere new and unexplored in your city. A new restaurant, bar, park or beach (if you are lucky enough) Whatever you decide to do, approach it with an adventurous mindset!
5) Open your heart with a backbend
Stretching your body can offer a shift in mindset and a renewed flow in positive energy. Backbends, in particular, are so energizing and uplifting (arguably more energizing than sugar or a coffee).
Examples: Camel, bridge, wheel, mermaid, dancer, bow.
Action Steps: Whether you’re at work, or at home, or on a transconintenal flight, if you are experiencing a slump or a sense of being closed off, instead of reaching for sugar or caffeine, consider doing one of the poses listed, or even walking your hands down the wall will give you a little bit more space. If you are in an office and can’t pull out a full blow wheel pose in your cubicle, find some space in the bathroom or the hall to use the wall for a quick heart opener.
The most important thing is to remember in that moment when you find yourself wanting to close up is to find the practice that feels good to you. Choose something that flows seamlessly into your life and into your schedule because that is the most effective kind of shift; one that is easy to embrace for you, at that time.
What is your favorite tip from above for shifting the course of your day and opening up?
Julie Serot, MPhil, RYT, works with women who, despite external accomplishments, feel there’s a big gap between what they thought their lives would look like, and the stress, frustration, and overwhelm they’re actually feeling on a day to day basis. She teaches women how to reclaim their power by helping them to determine their most heartfelt priorities and dreams, and take the graceful action to make them real. Her strategies include movement work, especially yoga, to slow them down, reconnect them with their feelings and inner guidance, and create the energy to make sustaining change.
If you found the above strategies helpful, and are ready to create a crystal clear vision of what you want your life to look like in 2014, apply for a complementary Reclaim Your Life in 2014 Session here. Julie will help you uncover the obstacles and challenges that are holding you back from thriving so that you leave the session feeling empowered with tangible and exciting next steps!
You can learn more about Julie at www.julieserot.com