Next time you go for a walk around the park, take a tennis ball with you. Use the tennis ball to focus your mind to the present. If you are like me, I end up brooding about problems or life-challenges when I go on walks. In some cases, I actually find solutions to some of my problems. In other cases, I just increase my anxiety levels.
When you have a tennis ball in your hand, you can bounce it off your path and watch its path as it goes down. Listen to the thump as the ball hits the ground and catch it as it comes up. Feel the texture of the ball as you prepare to bounce it again. This very simple process grounds you to the present moment. The activity is similar to that of monks and saints who use prayer beads and a mantra to focus in the present.
This simple activity - it engages your sense of sight, sound and feeling - has a tremendous relaxing effect in your mind and body. Every time, your mind is diverted to your pressing problems and challenges, this ball draws your attention to the present. In addition to the feeling of relaxation this active play provides, you may also find creative solutions to your life's challenges.
Try it and let me know how it works for you! And special thanks to my friend Barry for this idea!
Standard Disclaimer - Always be of mindful of others and traffic around. This exercise is done best in relatively empty streets or in a park.
It appears that many of us use food as a way to relax ourselves - not an effective long term strategy! I checked for additional ideas and found this book by Susan Albers "50 ways to soothe yourself without food"
The author starts out with a short introduction to reasons why we find eating as a very soothing activity. Common reasons include bio-chemical changes in the body, boredom and habit. Donuts & chocolate - do I need to say more? Donuts are loaded with sugar and fat - they give you a boost of energy. Chocolate increases some mood enhancing chemicals in our brain.
Her five major categories of relaxation are:
(1) Meditation and mindfulness - using breathing and other self-focus techniques to relax without the need for food.
(2) Focus on your thoughts and change them - Writing your journal can help you examine your thoughts and focus on positive and self-affirming thoughts. Day-dreaming and focusing and focusing on your worries may also guide your mind and thoughts from food.
(3) Relax your body with exercise, yoga or a massage. While a massage from a professional can be expensive, consider bribing your spouse or significant other to give you a neck or shoulder rub.
(4) Use distractions - watching a funny movie, work on your favorite crafts or listening to relaxing music - all help you distract from eating.
(5) Connect with your family and friends - a great way to relax is to go for a walk with your spouse or best friend. A phone call or chat with someone by facebook or skype also can help you de-stress rapidly.
What are some of your favorite methods to destress?
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.