Tag: breath (page 1 of 3)

How To De-Stress Right Now

Stress may suck, but on some level, it acts as an indicator of many things, namely, that we need to either pay attention to the situation for our safety or care for ourselves for our well-being.

I’m a sensitive person and I tend to empathize with others very easily. I also have a temper. In a perfect storm of stress factors, I can go from 0 to 60 in no time at all. It’s not difficult to imagine how common it is for me to pick up on other people’s stress or for seemingly minor things to cause me unease, irritation and concern. I often catch myself tensing up; I feel my shoulders cramp, neck and back pain, shallow breathing and my mind races. I become high-strung and I can’t think straight, Naturally, I’ve had to work out a few instant and effective de-stressors.

All of these eight tips take one hour or less, most take effect in minutes. Also, I picked eight (8) because it’s the symbol for infinity and I believe that when we’re at the heart of our (shared) greatness, we feel incredibly peaceful. Here are my go-tos!

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical Gardens, photo by Mercedes

Lotus from the Geneva Botanical
Gardens, photo by Mercedes


1-   Breathe

That’s really the first step. A deep, belly breath; in through the nose out through the nose. Close your eyes, feel the breath sweep through you, feel your tummy rise and fall.

2-   Stop Glorifying Busy

Don’t overbook yourself. Allow for buffers in your week. If you were thinking of squeezing in that extra meeting, or booking another errand in your commute to/from work or double-booking your Saturday night, don’t do it. In fact, if you can reschedule one thing without repercussions, do it. You’ll be happy you’ve left breathing room. Aaaah.

3-   Remove the Digital Clutter


Unsubscribe from mailing lists, because really, when are you ever going to read that email? Do you *need* to buy yet another appliance? You already check twitter or instagram; you don’t need the notification. You’re entitled to a clean house, digitally.

Social media

Unfollow, Unfriend, Unsubscribe. No one needs that negative friend who can’t seem to spend one day rant-free. And if you have a dear friend or relative who posts games and cat videos, maybe you just don’t need to see *all* their posts.

Clear your inbox

Use folders, flags, archive, delete. If you’ve read it, file it. If it requires action, follow-up or flag it to deal with at your earliest convenience. Delete anything that doesn’t need to be revisited (you would keep directions or instructions for instance) or that you don’t value (you might keep a friend’s touching email). Otherwise, DELETE.

4-   Remove Clutter From Your Home

Perform a clutter sweep

Give yourself 5-10 minutes to do the sweep your common areas and bedroom. Your only concern is to clear counters, tables and seats. Any trash and recycling should be disposed of. Fold blankets, replace cushions, push table chairs, wipe tables and counters. Load your dishwasher if you have one, or pile your *rinsed* dishes to be cleaned when you can. IF they aren’t rinsed and you can spare your sink (or a soak bin), ya might want to soak them. Your (near) future self will thank you.

Take a basket or two and assign a space per basket, such as “office” and “bedroom”. If you have kids, you’ll want one for their rooms. Whatever you find that belongs in those spaces you put in the basket and when you’re done, you bring those to these spaces to be sorted later. You now have a tidy kitchen, dining and living room.

Bonus: open a window or light a scented candle (go with a non-toxic option)!

5-   Care for Your Body

Get moving.

Get some fresh air, go for a walk or a stretch and don’t sit down until you’ve spent 30 minutes moving. Get the blood moving and consider it an “active meditation”.

Have a piece of a fresh fruit.

Our brains run on natural sugar and our bodies need vitamins and nutrients. Do yourself a favour and bite into something healthy. You’ll feel refreshed and your body will thank you.

Draw yourself a bath.

If you’re at home and you can manage 15-20 minutes to yourself (gosh, I hope you can!), draw yourself a warm bath. If you have sea salt or Epsom salts, throw some in for an added treat – bonus! it helps your skin detox. You can throw in a few drops of your favourite essential oil (lavender works beautifully). When you sit in the tub, focus on your breath or on how the water feels on your skin. Be present. Forgive yourself if you drift; this time is for you!

6-   Ease Your Mind

Put away the screens.

Give your racing mind a break… put away the screens and devices for one hour. If you can’t manage that, start with 30 minutes. Baby steps. When we’re using devices, we’re constantly stimulated by advertising, pop-ups, email notifications, back-lighting. This is especially true if you’re going to bed because screens stimulate a part of our brains to think it’s still daylight, which means we won’t feel sleepy and it’ll throw off our natural Zzzz’s. There are apps like influx that will convert the light to an orange-tinged back-light, but really… do you need to send that email or spend more time on Facebook? Go cuddle up to your honey, your kid or curl up with a good book or journal.

7-   Soothe Your Heart

Call a friend or loved one.

Don’t text, call. Listen to their voice or go meet them for a cup of tea. Humans respond best to faces and voices. Besides, if you meet up in person, you might get the added bonus of a hug (yay for oxytocin!).

8-   Lift Your Spirits

Consume or create something that inspires you

Read your favourite author’s blog, watch a TEDtalk or write a note or a card, or make that flower arrangement or scrapbook. Spend time in nature, taking it all in, whether it’s a park or your back yard. If you find it calming, weed or tend to your garden.

How do you bust stress in your life? What are your favourite tips? How have they helped you?

Book Review: Yoga Girl, by Rachel Brathen

Rachel Brathen is an instagram sweetheart known as @yoga_girl. I’ve personally been following her for as long as I’ve been on instagram (about a year?). I may have resisted this platform, which as a photographer, is a little contradictory, but at some point, I was too curious about the insta-eye-candy out there. And even though you find all types of trends (uh, there are altogether probably more food and cat pics than anything), I was instantly drawn to this super rad lady because she seemed so full of life, so genuine and her photos were always colourful and her messages inspiring.

Rachel Brathen @yoga_girl

Rachel Brathen is @yoga_girl

Book Review: Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

When I noticed the buzz about her (then) upcoming book, Yoga Girl, I thought I needed to read her story. I was so excited when it came in that I read it in a few short days. I recently read over certain parts of her story again. Rachel is honest and so full of love. Her wisdom comes from experience overcoming challenges (some of epic proportions) but she is not preachy. It’s fortunate that she’s a beautiful person (inside and out) and that she has so many followers because her message of love, peace and bliss is much needed.

I like that her book is a combination of her story. yoga sequences, recipes, inspirational notes and breath-taking photographs. Her book feels like she’s offering a slice of harmony by showing us how she found peace and beauty in every situation. She’s also found her voice and I admire that.

I’ve tried her green smoothie and her guacamole recipes and they were huge hits with my family. Her words of wisdom resonated with me, which is why I keep going back to her book.

Rachel Brathen in a seated twist

Rachel in a seated twist

Rachel Brathen in Seated Meditation

She inspires me to trust that what I love will be of use to someone and it will bring meaning (to others and to me). Her perseverance through her emotional, spiritual and physical challenges shows me that I can do it too. I can heal my body from emotional pain and hormonal imbalance. I can heal my body from injuries. I can heal my heart from fear and disappointment. I can heal my spirit from illusion. It makes me want to go to my yoga mat as well and work out my issues there. I practice to know Truth as often as I can.

This woman does yoga every dang day! Whoa. It’s what I strive for.

Rachel in king pigeon

Rachel in king pigeon

I realize that yoga is for my body what writing is for my spirit. They’re both tools and approaches to the same state of peace and acceptance.

Yoga Girl Book Cover

Yoga Girl, by Rachel Brathen

I’ve also started trying her sequences. Because of Rachel, I’ve started my handstand challenge… Every day, I work towards doing a successful handstand. I also try to do a forearm inversion. Inversions scare me a little. I know that I’m not there yet and I know this isn’t a complete yoga practice. But the Universe knows how to speak to us so that we understand; the handstand is me facing something that terrifies me and that I once thought I could never do (because I didn’t “have the body” or “the upper body strength”). I *know* through this experience that I will succeed and I know that I am strong enough. I also know that I like to take big bites out of the elephant but that I’m committed to small bites. So the handstand, for me, is tackling a tougher part in small, consistent bites. I will eat that elephant. I will handstand. I am hand-standing even for a few seconds every day. Those seconds will transform into minutes as my body confirms my belief that I am strong.

I am so grateful to her for writing this book and I hope one day to take her class live!

Is there a book that inspired you into challenging yourself? Has social media introduced you to someone you find inspiring?

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