If your feeling anxious or stressed, Vikings actress and yoga teacher Maude Hirst, suggests three ways you can uplift your mood with these mindfulness fixers
Stress and anxiety doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon given the current coronavirus crisis.
According to a survey completed by the Mental Health Foundation, almost three quarters of adults have at some point felt stressed and roughly three million suffer from anxiety as indicated by the latest Psychiatric Morbidity Survey.
There are so many different reasons why each of us suffer from stress and anxiety. Work, relationships and social media are some triggering factors which most of us can relate to.
almost three quarters of adults have at some point felt stressed
Not only that but the tiny, compact, soul-grabbing machine we have glued to our pockets, otherwise known as the smart-phone, is something we are all pretty much guilty of depending on.
After getting back from a ten day silent meditation retreat, I definitely noticed the anxiety building when I switched on my mobile phone and was suddenly bombarded with the outside world at an overwhelming speed.
Has this ever happened to you when you’ve come back from a relaxing holiday?
We have so much to process in such a short amount of time these days, no wonder stress levels are rising. But instead of hoping for it to pass, we need to find ways to help combat stress as it arises.
So how can we counterbalance this overwhelm and bring back some calm?
Mindfulness fix #1 Find somewhere you can be quiet for a few minutes
The outside world is going to keep getting faster and faster but our anxiety and stress don’t need to keep up with it. We can slow ourselves internally, setting ourselves up to be better equipped for whatever our external worlds bring.
Sit down, close your eyes and begin to bring your awareness to your breath.
Without knowing, your breathing will have become shallow and fast. Your job is to slow it right down and begin to feel in control of your breath again.
The calmer you are internally will have a huge effect of your stress levels
Place your hands on the side of your rib cage and as you inhale, expand the ribs under your hands, using your hands as guidance. As you exhale, the rib cage will contract back.
Begin to inhale to the count of six and again six on your exhale. This will slow down your pace and bring you back into a state of balance.
Mindfulness fix #2: Start your day with some breathing
It’s often right at the start of our day that we begin to feel anxious and stressed. We wake up from a lovely nights sleep and then begin to imagine the rest of our day.
All of a sudden our stress levels begin to rise and before we’ve left the house, we’ve already set ourselves up for a day filled with panic and anxiety. From there the roller-coaster of emotions and events begin.
Stress and anxiety is caused by the mind either taking us back into stressful situations of our past or projecting an imagined future that hasn’t yet happened.
The mind is a clever machine, making us feel emotions before the event has even taken place. So how can we prevent ourselves from starting the day feeling anxious?
The mind is a clever machine, making us feel emotions before the event has even taken place
The power of mindfulness (meditation, yoga, breathing) is that you train the mind over and over again to become ‘present’ so that you’re not stressing about the past and future.
Instead you observe what is actually happening in the moment. Usually the present moment is a much calmer place to be. In the present, we feel far less overwhelmed and can often make better decisions about what to do next.
From this present place, all you need to do is concentrate on the breath and the sensations in the body for a few minutes.
- Sit with your eyes closed, focus on your breathing.
- Then, from the top of your head scan down through your body, noticing the sensations you feel in each part of the body.
- This will make you present and will stop you rushing into those anxious feelings.
Mindfulness fix #3 Realise you have the choice & power to change
A common myth about anxiety and stress is that it is something that happens to us that we don’t have any control over. Anxiety is not something we can catch, it’s something that is cultivated from within and actually starts with an unaware change to our breathing pattern.
Once we realise that in some way we have a choice, we then have the power to change it.
I have seen people move from having severe panic attacks weekly to never having an attack again and living a peaceful life.
Anxiety is not something we can catch, it’s something that is cultivated from within
It is about mastering your breath and realising that you are in control of your breathing and the stress levels in your body, not the other way around.
There are lots of different practices that bring you into the present moment, from meditation, to yoga, to breathing exercises. So if you are someone who is struggling at the moment with anxiety or stress or both, know that there are practices that can help you day by day.
It’s worth trying these practices even as a preventative measure. The calmer you are internally will have a huge effect on your stress levels.
Let’s come together to make our mind, body and soul a better place for us all. We can try and master the present moment with these simple mindful fixers to begin and end our day with a breath of fresh air.
Maude Hirst is a born and bred East Londoner, best known for her role as Helga in the hit TV show ‘Vikings.
She is an actor turned mindfulness teacher on a mission to create a bespoke path into mindfulness for you.
Discovering yoga and meditation has totally changed her life for the better and she believes it can do the same for you.
Maude is trained in yoga, meditation, intuitive movement meditation, Theta Healing and Reiki and has created her company EnergyRise to bring you an array of mindfulness practices in order to cater to your individual needs.
At a time where there is more stress and anxiety in the world than ever before, Maude believes mindfulness is the key to bringing some calm and clarity to your life through simple practices. Empowering you to listen to what truly makes you happy and who you truly are.