Calm Down Part I: Gratitude
By KimLien LaFitte
Now more than ever, I need ways to deal with stress. It’s hard sometimes to tear my eyes away from all the horrible stories in the news. And sometimes I’m just frozen.
The list of things I could do is overwhelming, so I do nothing.
For some people running, HIIT, or power pilates might help to relieve stress. These types of movement work to relieve stress because once you’re done training, you go into a parasympathetic state (aka “rest and digest”) where relaxation occurs. It’s kind of like blowing off steam to relieve pressure. However, I prefer a more gentle and low key approach to reset my ANS(Autonomic Nervous System).
When you see my list of self care for stress relief, you might be inclined to think I grew up in a commune. I did not.
I grew up in a conservative household in the suburbs. Catholics with strong work ethic. Guilt was a common emotion. I was born of DO-ers, not necessarily BE-ers. I think I’ve been in survival mode since before I was born. (yes, I do actually believe in past lives and mine were about survival)
Anxiety is too familiar so I my ANS can go to, and stay in, a low level sympathic state (heightened state of awareness aka “fight or flight”) if I don’t address it.
I think if there’s a willingness to veer from a well worn path, with an open mind and heart, and good teachers, anyone can find daily moments of peace even in this confusing and polarized time.
If you don’t have the capacity to read more than a paragraph these days, here’s my essential list.
I don’t do all of these every day, but I do at least one each day:
- Meditation (Guided, Breathing, or Walking)
- Connecting to Nature
I kept a gratitude journal steady for a year once, and it completely changed my life. I don’t keep a gratitude journal anymore, but I do journal because for me writing is very powerful. I do still practice gratitude though.
Whenever I find myself complaining or feeling irritated, I stop what I’m doing, and I start naming things I am grateful for. I actually do this out loud kind of like a prayer because voice is powerful too.
Right now, I’m grateful for my fur babies, for the trees that provide us with oxygen, for federal pandemic assistance, for a week without drama from a certain family member, for all my family and friends being healthy today, and every day I’m grateful for my amazing relationship with my husband.
I believe being truly grateful reminds us of what’s really important and it helps to let go of the nagging worries we hold onto.