Do you feel bombarded by all of the competing demands on your time? Are you craving a quick and easy way to de-stress after a long day? Or do you lie awake at night, wishing your mind would stop racing, so you could finally get a good night’s sleep?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. And I know first-hand how incredibly stressful it can be, especially if you feel like it’s out of your control.
But I want you to know that there is a way to empower yourself.
By coaching your nervous system into a relaxed state, you can learn to reduce your stress. When you implement just a few daily practices, you will begin to feel more calm and relaxed.
But what kind of daily practices will help you do that?
Trying to figure it out on your own may feel stressful and overwhelming…and that’s exactly what we don’t want!
So, wouldn’t it be nice to have a clear set of tools to help you quickly, easily and effectively get rid of stress whenever it overtakes your body and mind?
As a psychotherapist, yoga, meditation and Reiki Master Teacher, I have created just that: a set of tools to help you quickly eliminate stress when it begins to overtake your mind and body.
It’s called The CALM Method.
The CALM Method has helped my clients find relief and ease when they feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. In fact, if you follow this method over time, it will allow you to completely rewire your stress response.
Pretty powerful, huh?
Although you can’t control external stressors and stop them from occurring, you can learn how to reduce internal stressors and rewire your response to stress.
And that’s what I’m going to teach you to do today!
In just a minute I’m going to share an overview of The CALM Method, so you can empower yourself with the tools you need to achieve a calm and relaxed state quickly, no matter what is going on around you. But first I want to set the context to make sure you understand why it is so important.
Did you know that research shows that stress is the reason for 60 – 90% of doctor visits?
And a study done by the American Psychological Association found that most Americans reported feeling moderate to high stress levels.
With all of the pressures of modern day life, many people are actually walking around in a constant state of “fight or flight” and don’t even know it.
Here’s the thing: Life is far too precious to spend most of your time stressed out.
While some degree of stress is normal, and even healthy, too much stress sends your nervous system out of whack and puts a strain on your body, mind and spirit. If this stress is prolonged, it can lead to physical and emotional health problems.
But rather than focusing on the problem, I want to help you find and implement solutions.
This is why I am very excited to introduce you to The CALM Method. This proven method consists of the following steps:
1. COACH YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
This step is all about activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System, home of the relaxation response.
Your nervous system is like the air traffic control tower for your entire body. The stress response is governed by the Autonomic Nervous System. And the good news is, so is the relaxation response.
I promise not to go into too much science here, but there are a couple of things that are important to understand so you can coach your nervous system out of fight or flight and into the relaxation response.
The Autonomic Nervous System is divided up into three parts: Sympathetic, Parasympathetic and Enteric nervous systems.
When you are under stress, the fight or flight response kicks in, releasing stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine into the body to mobilize action. When you are calm and relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is leading the charge. This part of the nervous system is known as “rest and digest.”
When you know the basics of how your nervous system works, you can actually begin to coach it into the parasympathetic mode. But when you are over-committed, over-stimulated and over-tired your body can easily go into “fight or flight.”
Even though there is most likely nothing to be afraid of, the body reacts as though it is in immediate emotional or physical danger. This causes your body to flood with stress hormones, making it nearly impossible to relax.
Through practices such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises you can actually rewire your nervous system so you can spend more time in the relaxation response. Many forms of energy medicine like Reiki and EFT (tapping) also help to turn on the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system by helping you achieve a state of deep relaxation.
When you combine these practices with getting enough sleep, exercise and balanced nutrition, you can coach your nervous system into a place of ease.
Tip to move from “fight or flight” into “rest and digest”:
Turn off cell phone notifications for email and social networking sites. The constant dinging or vibrating of your phone is a tiny stressor that, when added up throughout the day, has a pretty big effect on your stress levels and your ability to focus.
2. ACTIVATING HEALTHY HABITS
The first step of rewiring your stress response is to dial-in your daily habits. Balancing sleep, exercise and nutrition are the building blocks to a stress-free lifestyle. I know you may be thinking “I already know this stuff,” but hang in there with me for a second. All of this information I am giving you is part of a unified system, and when all pieces of the system are practiced together you will achieve powerful results.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Yet approximately two-thirds of adults say their sleep needs aren’t being met during the week. We adults actually aren’t all that different from children. We need a relaxing bedtime routine for optimal sleep as well.
But what do most adults do before bed? National Institute of Health reports that 9 out of 10 adults use some type of technological device (most common are TV and phone) in the hour before they go to bed. The blue light emitted from cellphones, computers and TVs disrupts the production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in your brain that regulates the sleep cycle.
When you watch TV or play on your phone before bed, your brain gets confused and thinks it’s daytime (even if you’re feeling drowsy) and melatonin production is slowed down. And less melatonin means poor quality sleep.
Tip to balance sleep:
Minimize use of technology before bed. I recommend putting down electronics two hours before bedtime and using that time to engage in self-care practices (more on these below.) If two hours seems totally impossible, find an increment of time that you can commit to (even if it’s only 15 minutes) and build from there. Remember, big changes are the result of small steps repeated over time.
Regular movement is important to maintaining your physical and emotional health as well as to decrease stress. The key to being consistent is finding the kind of movement your body craves and then committing to do it by carving out time in your schedule. When you approach exercise as an opportunity to move your body intuitively, you are much more likely to do it and enjoy it. And that is the point!
One quick note, with The CALM Method, we are focusing on exercise to support mental and emotional health, not to achieve any type of external effect. You are beautiful exactly as you are!
And as always, be sure to check with your doctor about which types of exercises would be best suited for your body. Working with a personal trainer can also add another layer of support if this is an area you would like additional help with.
Tip to balance exercise:
Take a 30-minute walk every morning. The purpose of exercise within The CALM Method is to get your energy moving and release stuck and stagnant energy while drawing fresh oxygen into your body. You can think of it as mindful movement. After your morning walk you will feel refreshed, energized and ready to take charge of your day.
Food is fuel. It’s as simple as that. What happens to your car if you put low-grade gasoline in it with sand and rocks? Engine trouble, I bet! Your body is no different.
If you consume low-quality foods, in the form of processed food, refined starch and sugar, you are not going to have optimal energy levels. Eat good quality whole foods, non-iodized salt (sea salt and Himalayan pink salt are great choices!) and substitute organic sugar for refined sugar when possible.
The quality of the food you eat not only affects your physical body, but your mood as well. Also, strive for well-balanced meals comprised of nutritious whole foods, rather than dieting. Simply put, not only does dieting not work, it is really bad for you physically and emotionally. If you are looking for additional support with improving nutrition, I recommend speaking with your doctor and consulting a registered dietitian.
Tip to balance nutrition:
Go through your kitchen and take a survey of your food. How many of the food items (and drinks) are processed or contain refined sugar or starch? (Quick tip: if there are a lot of ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s probably highly processed.) Moving forward, try to stick to unprocessed options as much as possible.
Many people say it is expensive to eat this way. But there are ways to get creative so you can eat well on a budget. It just requires a bit of extra planning. And the way I see it, it’s an investment in your health.
And what could possibly be more important than investing in your health? Your health is the foundation of everything else in your life. Your relationships, your career, your ability to have fun and play all depend on you having your health.
3. LEARNING MEDITATION & BREATHING TECHNIQUES
The point of meditation is not to calm your mind, it is to learn to observe the natural fluctuations of your mind without reacting. Many people say “I can’t meditate” but that is because they are trying to stop the mind, which is an impossible task. Instead, try to allow your thoughts to be there without attaching to them.
One way to do this is to notice the thoughts and visualize a running stream with leaves floating in it. Imagine each thought flowing up and out of the crown of your head, landing on a leaf, and watch your thoughts effortlessly being carried away by the moving water.
Overtime, the frequency of your thoughts during meditation will naturally decrease, but this is not something to strive for. It is a natural progression that happens after you consistently practice meditation for some time.
Committing to a daily practice of meditation and listening to a guided meditation can help you to integrate this practice into your life more quickly.
In addition to meditation, breathing exercises are one of the fastest and easiest ways to turn on the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system. So pairing meditation with deep breathing can help to amplify the effects of the meditation even more.
Tip for developing or deepening your meditation practice:
Meditate first thing in the morning – rise, pee, meditate! When you make meditation the first activity of your day, you set the tone for peace and calm. How you start your day matters.
If you start your day with stress (hitting snooze, waking up late and rushing out the door), you are much more likely to feel stressed all day long. But if you start your day with 10+ minutes of relaxation, you will likely carry that relaxation throughout your entire day! Doesn’t that sound like a much better option?
Sign up below for my free 10-minute stress reducing guided meditation and I will show you how. I’ve taken care of all the work for you. All you have to do is sit back, relax and press play.
4. MASTERING MINDSET
Our minds are wired to notice the negative. In psychology we call this the negativity bias. You see, from an evolutionary standpoint, the negativity bias was quite helpful. It prevented us from being eaten by predators and ensured our survival.
Despite all of the evolutionary advances humans have made, the negativity bias has us a bit stuck in the cave man days. But don’t worry, you aren’t doomed to only notice the negative. It just takes a little bit of mind training to rewire the negativity bias. You basically have to train your brain to notice the positive.
Tip to master your mindset:
Every morning, write down three personal goals (self-care) and three work/school related goals you would like to accomplish.
Every evening, write down three successes (you always have successes, no matter how tough the day was) as well as three things you are grateful for.
Practices like this help to rewire the negativity bias and train your mind to notice the positive more often, which will improve your mood and reduce your stress.
Finding time for The CALM Method in your life
So you may be thinking, “This all sounds really great, but I just don’t have time for it.”
But here’s the thing: we make time for what is important.
I promise you, if you take an honest look at how you are spending your time, you can come up with 30-60 minutes everyday for these practices.
The average adult in the US spends 4.7 hours per day on their smartphone and checks their social networking profiles a staggering 17 times per day. A few less trips to your email and social networking profiles and there you go, you’ve made time to practice The CALM Method!
Think of these practices like taking an energy shower. When practiced regularly, they take off the ‘ick’ of the day. And they will make you so much more effective and productive in every area of your life.
But I think the most compelling reason of all is…each moment you spend stressing out is a moment you can’t get back. So the choice is yours. Would you rather spend your moments stressing or taking care of yourself?
My hope for you is that you choose to take really good care of yourself. You deserve it. And it is not selfish. We are so much better to everyone around us when we take good care of ourselves.
Are you ready to get started and experience some stress relief right now? Sign up below to get your stress reduction meditation absolutely free. With just 10 minutes per day, you can be on your way to calming your mind, improving your sleep, strengthening your immune system, decreasing stress, increasing positive emotions, improving focus and memory and so much more.
Also, stay tuned for my upcoming webinar called “The CALM Method: 4 Simple Steps to Calm Your Body, Mind & Spirit” where we will dive deeper into each of the steps and I will teach you even more about how to implement them in your life quickly and easily.
I put a lot of love into creating this meditation for you and I hope you enjoy it. If you want to leave feedback or have any questions, please jump on over to my Facebook community and leave a comment there. Look forward to connecting with you soon!