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Exercise, meditate and give thanks

Meditation teacher (and ex-Bachelorette contestant) Luke McLeod shares his easy-to-implement tips for how to instantly de-stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I’m sure we all had the best intentions to start 2020 on the right foot. However, dealing with the post-bushfires trauma, climate change-induced anxiety and the reality of heading back to work, it’s no surprise that stress levels may already be starting to creep up.

Therefore, before things get too out-of-hand, here are my top five ways to turn around a stressful day.

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#1. Sweat

Being a meditation teacher a lot of people think that my first recommendation would be to meditate. However if you are feeling stressed and try to meditate, it can be quite frustrating as there needs to be a release of tension first.

This is why exercise is my number one initial recommendation. By exerting the body this releases endorphins that can actually melt tension away that stress can build up in the body.

#2. Swim

If you can’t exercise, then the next best option is to jump in the ocean. The physical act of submerging the body under water does two things. It first has a sensation of ‘washing away’ everything. Almost like a cleansing experience.

Second, is the feeling of weightlessness when you’re in water. This feeling can have a direct placebo effect on the brain. A release of tension and bring the body back into a calmer, more relaxed state.

#3. Breathe

The last immediate ‘release’ suggestion for stress is to take a few deep, slow and deliberate breathes in and out. Breath in through the nose for a count of eight, hold for five, then release through the mouth for another count of eight. Repeat this five times focusing particularly on relaxing the shoulders on the out breaths.

#4. Meditate

Once you’ve tried one or a combination of the above immediate stress release suggestions, I would now give meditation a go. Meditation is more of a stress prevention exercise. Something that can stop stress having it’s way with you. Online streaming services, like soulalive.com.au, are handy as they provide convenient set-class times that can be done from home.

#5. Give thanks

The second stress prevention exercise is the regular practice of gratitude. Stress is best friends with worry, which is created from focusing on negative things that have happened in your past which then leads to concern of what will happen in the future.

Gratitude sits on the complete other spectrum. It is the act of giving thanks for what you have right here, right now. Simply writing down three things every night that you’re grateful for has proven to lower stress hormones like cortisol by up to 23%.