*Disclosure: This blog post includes affiliate links. Please note that I only recommend books, products, courses, and services that resonate with me and all opinions expressed are my own. The affiliate link below means that I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase at no cost to you.
Every day most of us are faced with some kind of stress. A small dose of stress is helpful and healthy. It helps us to get things done and to move things along.
Yet a lot of us are faced with chronic stress, and we all find ways to cope with it.
There are definitely healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with stress. When we just want to get on with life without looking at the root cause of our stress (which always circles back to ourselves – our thoughts, beliefs, and stories we tell ourselves), we numb ourselves with various substances and entertainment. We smoke, we drink, we binge eat and binge watch Netflix and are addicted to our phones.
The source of our stress does not go away with these activities. They serve as a band-aid that we put on our stress temporarily, hoping that the stress will go away without looking at it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Sometimes we do need this temporary fix just to survive. There are so many things to deal with in life and we’re all so busy. Sometimes we just don’t feel ready yet to deal with the source of the stress, and that’s okay.
But this is like we’re letting our stress to take the driver’s seat and to run our lives. If we truly want to live the life we’ve always dreamed of, we’ve got to take back control of the steering wheel.
When we decide to face the root cause of our stress and actively do something about it, we can heal ourselves.
In today’s blog I want to share 7 ways that we can heal from stress. We don’t have to take down the stress monster in one big strike. These tips can help you start finding out the root cause of your stress, and to decide how you want to live your life.
We are not here just to survive. We’ve all come here to live out our best potential, with meaning and purpose, and to thrive. So let’s get started!
The very first thing when parents teach their children about feelings is to name them. And by naming the feeling, the child can start to have a sense of control over his/her emotions.
Unfortunately as we become adults, instead of admitting that we are stressed, we got clever and find ways to avoid dealing with it. We watch a funny movie. We go out with friends. We drink, we smoke, and we eat lots of sugar. We stick to our phone and social media and Youtube until we are numb.
It seems silly, but the first and foremost healthy way to deal with the source of our stress is to name the monster. When we admit that we are stressed, and acknowledge that whatever we are doing now is not working out, we know that it is time to do something different. It is time to deal with it – the root cause of our stress, instead of avoiding it as a plague.
If we continue to do what we are doing, history will only repeat itself. Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expect different results.
So if you want to get to the bottom of your stress, recognize that something is not working out in your life right now, and it is time for change.
At this stage it is okay if you don’t know what to do or how to change yet. On to the next tip.
Take action now:
Do you want your source of stress to control or worse, ruin your life? You may think that there is nothing you can do, but in fact you have complete control on how you can respond to any people or situations. Ask the Universe to help you and set the intention to do something different. Keep your heart and mind open for something new to come. That’s all you need.
2. Write it out – journaling
Once you call out your stress, it’s time to get some paper and pen and start writing.
In the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, she prescribes a daily writing exercise called “morning pages’ to get your creative juice flowing. The morning pages are basically three pages of writing whatever comes up to your mind first thing in the morning. You can write about anything you want but it has to be three pages long.
Start writing 3 pages about anything that comes to your mind about this stress you are experiencing, and you don’t need to wait till the morning to do this.
If you know what is stressing you out, write it all out. Write down any feelings and do not hold back. There is no judgment, only honesty is required.
These pages are for yourself to read only and you don’t need to edit them. The key is in the process of writing it out, and you can choose to read or not read what you have written afterwards.
For more tips on journaling, you can refer to my blog post on “Journaling for Beginners: How to Get Started on Journaling” here
Take action now:
Get a pen and notebook or just pieces of paper, and start writing your 3 pages. If you don’t have time to do it now, make sure to find a time to do it later. A great tip is to find time to journal is when you are sitting on the toilet. If you can find time to scroll through your phone, you can find time to do this.
3. Sweat it out – moving
Sweating has always been known for an effective way to destress. You can sweat by exercising or going into a steam or sauna.
Not everyone would have immediate access to a steam or sauna, so the easiest way to get sweating is to do some kind of aerobic exercise that gets your blood pumping.
If you’re a couch potato like me who don’t really enjoy going to the gym, a fun way to exercise is to dance. Choose a few of your favorite dance songs, turn the volume up and dance like there’s no tomorrow.
Don’t stop until you break a sweat. Give yourself some rest time also after sweating. Feel your heartbeat racing. Feel your sweat dripping down your face. Feel the coolness of the water in your mouth as you hydrate.
Take action now:
Change into your exercise outfit. Just the act of wearing the outfit can help motivate you to exercise. And then go exercise and break a sweat, even just for 5 minutes today.
4. Sing it out – chanting
You know I’ve got to include chanting as this is my favorite way to destress. Singing is proven in research to be a natural anti-depressant.
An excellent mantra to help us overcome obstacles in our lives is Ganesha’s mantra which is: Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
You can repeat this mantra for 3, 9, 27 or 108 times in a meditation or you can also keep on repeating this mantra silently wherever you go. Even just by repeating the bija (seed mantra) “Gam, gam, gam…” can shift your stressful vibrational state into a calmer state.
To learn this mantra and how to use it in meditation, you can watch my 11-minute free guided japa meditation video here
Take action now:
Enjoy doing the japa meditation video with me? Delve deeper about the story of Ganesha’s mantra and the practice along in my free 60-minute workshop on “How to Use Mantra to Support You through Transition” here. The replay of this 60-minute workshop is completely free, and it is broken down into 8 bite-sized videos along with captions, so it’s easy to follow. All you need to do is to sign up here (it’s free) and receive the free email with the videos.
5.Walk it out – mindful walks
There will be times when we feel like we have this boost of energy and we are ready to change the world, and then there are times when we feel like we are moving two steps (or a thousand) backwards.
Perhaps the root cause of the stress is bigger than we thought. Who am I to deal with this? Who am I to change my life? We start to question and doubt ourselves. Life would be easier if we were just numb. And then we start to slip back into the old ways.
If you feel like this, it’s time to move your legs and walk it out. A mindful walk can help us get out of our heads (and the self-sabotaging thoughts), and connect with our body, breath and heart again.
Though it is ideal to take a mindful walk in nature, depending on where you live, that may not be possible. In this case, you can do a mindful walk in your neighborhood or even at your home.
Got other family members around? Do it when everyone is asleep or in their own room so you won’t be disturbed.
Take action now:
Put on your walking shoes (or go bare feet if the situation allows), and go for a walk outside now. If now is not a good time, start taking mindful steps inside your home even just for 5 minutes.
6. Take a break from it – do something nourishing
You know how we are supposed to take a 5-minute break for every 25 minutes of sitting and working at the desk? That’s right. Though it is a good thing that we are committed to making a change in our lives to heal from our stress for good, but it is okay to take a break from it. If we are constantly focused on looking at the source of our pain, it can get way too overwhelming.
Take some time to nourish yourself. Do what feels good. Start simple.
Take action now:
Give yourself permission to relax and put your legs up. Want to watch a funny movie? Go ahead. Go hang out with friends. Ask yourself what is one thing that would light you up today, and go do it.
7. Burn it – do a fire release ceremony
Once your mind is refreshed and ready to take this to the next level, it is time for a fire release ceremony.
A fire release ceremony is a very powerful symbolic way to tell your mind, body, heart and soul that you are ready to release the root cause of your stress. That this way of thinking, this way of operating, this way of functioning no longer serves you and you are willing to let it go.
Take action now:
Write down what you are ready to release on a blank piece of paper. Start the sentence by “I release…” and fill out the rest.
Make sure you have some quiet and alone time to do this properly, and give yourself at least 20 to 30 minutes undisturbed.
Light a candle and have a heat-resistant bowl where you can burn the paper. For safety reason, make sure you always have water next to you to put out the fire. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure the space is well ventilated.
Read what you wrote out loud three times and fold the piece of paper. Feel any emotions arising. Then take a deep breath in and blow all your feelings into the piece of paper. Imagine you are transferring your feelings of stress and other feelings into this piece of paper with your breath. Then burn the paper and witness how it burns. If you have several pieces of paper, repeat the same process and burn each one separately.
It is very powerful and transformational to witness the paper carrying your stress burning into ashes and the smoke rising and disappearing into thin air.
Take some time to be in silence afterwards, and write down any thoughts and feelings in your journal.
Discard the ashes only after the fire is completely extinguished. One way to do so is to pour water into the bowl. After that you can offer the ashes to the earth, or flush them down the toilet.
We are never meant to walk alone in this journey called life.
We have so many tools that can help to support us to heal from our stress and to flourish and thrive. When you feel stressed about something, someone, or some situation that are outside of our control, know that you can choose to respond to the stress differently.
You CAN do something differently. You CAN heal from your stress. You CAN thrive and flourish.
Stress is here to show us something. It allows us to see our blind spots. It brings light to something that is unconsciously driving our lives.
When we let go of stress, in fact we are letting go of a belief, a thought, or a story that no longer serves our highest good. As we are willing to heal from the root cause of our stress, we are allowing ourselves to shine our true light once again.
How about you? Do you have other ways on how you heal from your stress?
Feel free to share with me here, I’d love to hear from you.
Once a month we will hold a fire release ceremony around the full moon to help us let go of what no longer serves us. Check out our wellness activity schedule here for the next fire release ceremony here.