Perhaps you’re having a bit of trouble balancing school (or work) with downtime and your ability to relax. The recent political upheavals and the unusually snowy winter weather—at least where I am—may make it more difficult than usual to let go of stress. Sometimes the best ways to meditate, relax, and de-stress are unexpected and unconventional. Read on to find out more.
SEE ALSO: The Meaning Of Om Namah Shivaya
Also known as mindful walking practice, walking meditation is great for those who might find seated meditation more stressful than relaxing. This could be because a still, seated position puts more pressure on some people to focus exclusively on the breath, or it could be because some people simply have a large amount of nervous energy or are easily distracted.
The active, motion-based nature of walking meditation, on the contrary, gives the practitioner multiple points of focus: in addition to the breath, there is also the heel-to-toe contact that the feet make with the ground, as well as the sensation of the air and external surroundings. Ideally, the extra energy it takes to keep a steady pace and soften your visual focus will make it easier to focus on the acts of breathing and walking more than extraneous thoughts, in your head.
After yoga and meditation, exercise is often billed as one of the best ways to combat stress, both in school-aged children and adults. However, what if you were to find a way to disguise that exercise in the form of a fun errand, time spent with a friend, or time spent outside with the dog? For example, if there’s a grocery store in your neighborhood, opt to walk briskly to the store and back for groceries, rather than drive.
You might be surprised at how energized and invigorated you feel, afterward, knowing you killed two birds with one proverbial stone. Or try commuting to work via bicycle—you may find less of a need to attend that cycling class at the gym, after work, since you’ll already have managed to fit a workout into your schedule!
Take a Break
Whatever it is you’re doing, try taking some advice from sports coaches and allow yourself a quick break, then come back to the task at hand. You might be amazed at how helpful it can be to give the mind a rest every so often.
If you’re in the middle of trying to solve a problem, for example, you might find that a quick ten-minute walk can help your unconscious work on the problem without your realizing it—walking has actually been found to increase the volume of the hippocampus (and the faster you walk the greater the benefits)! Taking a break may also give you some much-needed perspective and help you realize that you may need to revamp your schedule and perhaps even schedule yourself a bit more free time,
Relax: There’s an App for That!
Lastly, what is probably a lesser-known type of app out there (which is actually useful year-round) is what’s called a “relaxation app,” with a few different types of offerings like ten-minute relaxation sessions via Headspace and programs designed to induce meditation and improve sleep, as well, via Calm. Many other options are available for those of us on the go looking for a convenient way to de-stress during our morning commute, for example, or as we’re falling to sleep. Take a look here for more ideas!
That’s it for alternative paths to relaxation, for now! Comment below with your favorite way to trick your mind into forgetting its problems, in the comments section, below!
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