I took a day off recently due to stress. Although in the business of helping people to de-stress, it can sometimes get too much for me also. Thankfully it doesn’t last too long nowadays because I've spent much of my life learning how to get back to balance quickly - a driving force in my life, that was born out of necessity.
I came eagerly into this world having arrived six weeks early and just in time for the Civil Rights march in Derry, N.Ireland. The war zone I grew up in had its highs and lows, and to us, crazy was the norm. Dodging bullets, searching for bombs and having guns pointed at us, meant we lived in a state of heightened anxiety and awareness - your life depended on it.
Having left school at sixteen without an education, I returned three years later to study science. At university, I suffered badly with panic attacks and tried many therapies and courses to find my inner calm. The discipline that worked best for me was Tai Chi.
Tai Chi has taught me to be kind and compassionate with myself and with others, both in my personal and professional life. I’ve learned to listen to my body, mind and emotions and to give myself permission to take time out to rest and recover when things go belly up.
TRY THIS OUT Sleep, or even a quick nap makes such a difference. Slowing down and focusing on your breath helps to bring calmness and clarity to any situation. I have found that simple Qigong exercises that focus on one word / one movement work best for me. For example, slowly raising both hands to the sky, I breathe in CALM and lowering both hands towards the ground, I breathe out STRESS. Repeat 3 to 10 times, depending on how much you need. TIP - if you can’t find a quiet place, go to the bathroom. It’s the one place you’ll get 5 minutes. If you’re at home with the kids, try doing the exercise with them. I've found them to be natural mimics and they love to join in. You’ll get a little respite and they'll learn a valuable life skill in the process.
STORMS Next time you're feeling stressed, remember, you’re not alone, we all have our storms. Reach out to someone and talk, go for a walk in nature, become aware of your breath, relax and know that whatever it is, it will pass.
When we are feeling stressed, it's usually our body's way of asking us to change direction, shift gears or choose a different perspective. Is there an opportunity here to move beyond the obvious? Try digging a little deeper to see if your inner wisdom has created this current problem to close one door and open another.
SPARKLE on! Sinéad
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