Center Yourself at Work and Home

 

A Minute of Calm

We all have such busy minds!  Take a minute between your busy activities during the day for  just three minutes, to breathe with the bubble and only think about your breathing and nothing else.

Centering at your desk

Instead of reaching for a coffee when you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, try this 10 minute mindful movement session at your desk.  Stretching periodically and getting up to walk around is good for your body and mind.

Self-Compassion

As we move through the day, we are experiencing strong emotions, uncomfortable thoughts, exhaustion for caring for other family members and chastising ourselves for not doing more or feeling differently.  It is helpful to stop for a moment to be as compassionate with yourself as you would be for others.  Try this 5 minute Self-Compassion Pause  or try one of these short self-compassion exercises.

Write in a journal

Writing in a journal boosts your mood, clears your mind, explores and releases your emotions and helps with your sense of well-being by helping to process through difficult experiences.  A phone app, Drive Thru: Mindful Journaling, has 1,000+  guided journaling exercises to help you connect with yourself, center and relax.

Healthy eating

East smart and choose healthy carbs, eat balanced meals, and cut out sugar as much as you can (no sodas!)  Try these  9 different foods, including chocolate and fatty fish, can actually boost your mood.  Be mindful of what you eat, especially in this stressful time.

Be grateful

Gratefulness increases optimism and makes you feel better about your life.  Even now there are reasons to be grateful despite all that is happening around us.  We have family and friends who love us, a home where we are safe, food to sustain us and our faith to give us hope.  Practices for being grateful.

Touch

We know that touching others and being touched decreases blood pressure, slows our heart rate, increases immunity, and releases chemicals in the brain that uplift our emotions and make us feel more positive. So...many of us are missing touch.  For those living alone, none of the activities on this page can replace touch, but they can help ease your anxiety until you are with loved ones again.  For those of you living with others, be aware that hugs, holding hands and one another or any kind touch is healing for both you and the other person.  Petting and holding our pets are another way to receive and give touch, too.

Be Kind and Generous

As enjoyable it is to receive a kindness, it can be as enjoyable to be kind to others.  Generosity relieves anxiety and brings joy.  When people are depressed or sad, moving one's body and doing something for others proves to ease the dark clouds above.  Feel good today.  Perform a simple act of kindness.

  • Write a letter or an email to someone.
  • Zoom with a friend you've kept in nominal touch with but would love to talk to.
  • Tell someone you love them.
  • Express your gratitude to another.
  • Compliment someone.
  • See if any of your neighbors may need some help.
  • Give someone your undivided attention.
  • Apologize for something you've done.
  • Make a card for someone.
  • Cook someone's favorite dish.
  • Surprise someone with little notes of love.
  • Lists of other acts of kindness 

Prayer

Every religion has its own tradition to center one self and to be with God such as chanting or singing holy verses, prayers or matras; manipulating objects such as beads while praying; or rocking or moving the body while praying.   As you may have your own practice surrounding prayer, these may seem strange to you or they could be soothing.  Join them in their prayers or in your mind, overlay with yours.

  1. Contemplative Prayer, also called Centering Prayer,  is a repetition of sacred word(s) or sentences focusing the mind on God.
  2. The Taizé community is an ecumenical monastic order whose music highlights simple phrases, usually lines from the Psalms or other pieces of scripture, repeated or sung in canon. Join  Taize in prayer
  3. Tibetan monks chanting "Om Mani Padme Hum," the mantra of compassion
  4. The Muslim daily call to prayer sung by Yusuf (former Cat Stevens)
  5. Snautum Kaur, a practitioner of the Sikh faith, sings mantras praising God
  6. Deval Premal praises God through mantras found in Sanksrit

Be Here Now

Our minds have been busy every second of the day since we were born thinking about the past and future, regretting, worrying, planning, replaying past and possible future scenes in our head.  Today while we have lost so much of our "normal" way of life and the control we once had, our minds are even busier.  We are fearful, angry, confused, depressed, and more.  here are hundreds of meditations techniques and they all have different benefits.  The overall purpose of meditation is to clear one's mind of all that future and past and be present.  Many people accomplish this through prayer as that is a kind of meditation, too.  In fact, there are hundreds of kinds of meditations,  some of them will work better for you than others—just like different diets, or learning, or relaxing work better for some people than for others.  Here are different kinds for you to try.

  1.  A body scan to bring you back into your body and into the present (very common kind of meditation)
  2.  Guided Meditation for Deaf people
  3. 20 Minute Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety and Stress--Clear the Clutter to Calm Down
  4. Jewish meditation intro to chedvah breathing 
  5. Powerful Daily Affirmations For Self Love & Inner Healing
  6. A Steady Heart in the Time of Corona Virus (Jack has Parkinson's)
  7. Relaxation meditation for releasing stress and tension held in your body
  8. Centering for children - 15 minute timer (adults can use it too!)

Mother Earth

When we walk in nature, research shows it reduces anger, fear, and stress while increasing endorphins in the brain so we feel better emotionally, reduce our blood pressure and heart rate and slows the production of stress hormones.  If you can, work in a garden, find an empty nature path to walk on or open your door and listen to the birds.  Since most of us are unable to go outside, enjoy soothing videos by watching the scenes or closing your eyes and putting yourself in nature.  Some people play these as background sounds at work or at home.

  1. Underwater paradise with music
  2. Ocean waves against the shore
  3. Majestic winter wildlife
  4. African wildlife of Namibia
  5. Tiger King (just kidding!)
  6. Earth's most beautiful places
  7. Swamp sounds at night

Music

Playing music or listening to music can reduce anxiety 65% so have sing-a-longs,  pick up your instrument and play, sing karaoke,  listen and watch listen free livestream concerts by professional musicians!

Explore music from other cultural groups for relaxation and enjoyment.  Putamayo produces music from around the world.

Native American flute.

Turkish musician Mercan Dede in Sufi style.

Australian Indigenous Didgeridoo.

Indian Sitar.      Indian drumming and flute.

Indonesian Traditional   Senegalese Youssou N'Dour

Neuroscientists' research shows in their testing of music and relaxation, these five songs produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music to date.
5. "Strawberry Swing," by Coldplay
4. "Watermark," by Enya
3. "Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)," by DJ Shah
2. "Electra," by Airstream
1. "Weightless," by Marconi Union

Centering at your fingertips

Several phone apps, both free and paid, offer talks, guided meditations, relaxing music, and more for becoming centered.  Look for where you add apps to your phone for the following:

 

 

Focus

Many of us are grieving about loss of seeing friends and family, loss of a loved one, loss of freedom, loss of control....so much loss.  With grief comes the difficulty of focus.  We decide to read a book, but we are checking our phone, checking social media, turning the news on TV, doing anything but reading the book which would be enjoyable.  Instead we continue to stress ourselves.  Be conscious of this and consider one of these ideas:

  1. Decide on an activity that brings you joy, whether it be by yourself or with others.   Set a time for how long you will do it.  Let no outside influences disturb you.  Just enjoy.
  2. We re-traumize ourselves if we continue to look at the news to see what's going on.  Decide how you will lessen your news "checkups."  Once in the morning - once in the evening?  Limit the amount of how often you are
  3. Consider how you consume the news.  Would it be best to have the TV off and just read the paper online or listen to news on the radio?  Sometimes images are more anxiety producing than reading.
  4. News Fast.  After 9/11, many people did "News Fasts" where they would not watch, listen or read the news for a day or more to lessen stress.
  5. Social Media Fast.  Do you need to scroll through Facebook all day?  Does it nourish you?  Soothe you?  Make you feel good?  Perhaps do without social media for a day.  Breath through it.  You can do it.

Research shows yoga rewires the brain to reduce anxiety as well as 38 other health benefits (if not more).  Yoga can look intimidating so start slowly and be glad for what you can do, always moving forward bit by bit.  Adrienne guides beginners online and for those who are more advanced in lessons lasting 15 - 35 minutes.  Her 30 days of yoga are practiced by millions.  Many of her lessons pertain to themes such as yoga for anxiety, gratitude, and confidence.  Other slow practices such as Tai chi and Qi Gong are also calming.

Research shows that moving your body can change the chemistry in the brain resulting in increased opiates in the bloodstream that boosts your mood and relieves depression. The Atlantic article "The Healthiest Way to Sweat Out a Pandemic," explains what you can do.  You can also dance at home, go for walks with your mask on staying six feet from people, do calisthenics or anything that gets the blood flowing throughout your body as your heart beats faster and you breathe deeper.

Play

Spending time doing activities that take you mind off of the day-to-day realities of life gives a great break to your mind and its busyness. Play games online or at home.  Do the hobby that gives you pleasure, if possible.  Science shows repetitive actions are soothing, such as knitting, beading, hammering.  Solitaire, gaming, gardening, building or creating arts and crafts, fixing an engine - all of these activities are enjoyable and are good for your spirit.  Cleaning closets, organizing the garage, cutting the grass, or anything you do that is satisfying or playful is renewing.  Go play!

Anxiety Relieving Technique

The Emotional Freedom Technique is a form of psychological acupressure people use to relieve people from symptoms of PTSD.  Research has not medically proven that it works, yet thousands of individuals who have received treatment claim their stress and anxiety have lessened through tapping.  EFT is akin to acupressure and acupuncture in its philosophy of unblocking energy along meridian lines in the body.

Media
There are endless videos, websites, books and podcasts which address the issues of trauma, depression, stress and anxiety.  Some experts have recorded or written specifically to the coronavirus and anxiety or about trauma in general. Talks on Video LCMS Health Ministry:   Fear, Anxiety and Wellness:  Journey to a Heart at Peace Jack Kornfield:  A Steady Heart in Time of Coronavirus  Podcast Rick Hansen :  Fear in the Time of Coronavirus Book The Body Keeps Score:  Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma - Bessel Van der Kolk
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