Calm Me Maybe

A blog dedicated to the eternal pursuit of happiness through all-natural methods of rest and relaxation

Repetitive motions to de-stress and calm

Everyone has their own way of dealing with life, love, and loss, but certain activities can help to relax the body and rid the mind of anxious thoughts.

Repetitive motions, like those used to knit or make jewelry, can soothe anxiety.  Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, recommends the repetition of a word, sound, phrase, muscular activity to elicit your body’s relaxation response. This reaction allows a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.

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Sarah (right) making jewelry with roommate Angela.

Sarah Ford, a 20-year-old student at St. Bonaventure University, began making jewelry as a hobby. She quickly found the calming properties that her interest could provide.

“Jewelry making quickly changed from a hobby to a time to clear my head and relax,” she said. “The creative process of designing patterns helps me to clear my head and focus on something easy and repetitive.”image 2

Repeating movements also allows the brain to focus on returning to that movement rather than revisiting intruding or destructive emotions.

Michele Ross, a part-time employee at a community college and full-time mother and wife, crochets to destress between working and taking care of her three-year-old daughter.

“I usually try and work on something to wind down for the night and usually go to bed afterwards,” she said.

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Michele Ross works on her crochet projects through out her busy day for stress relief.

Some experts believe that activities with repetitive motions can have the same effects on the brain as meditation.

According to Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor Viereck, authors of Meditation – The Complete Guide, “any activity that demands focus and involves some degree of repetitive activity lowers brain-wave frequency and therefore produces the effects of meditation.”

Focusing on a hobby that involves repetitive movements can steer the mind away from those less-than-desirable thoughts.  Finishing a project will replace unwanted feelings with feelings of triumph and success.

“My personal favorite part of the experience is not just the designing, but the feelings of accomplishment when I can see my feelings and ideas in my finished work,” Ford said. “It can turn any feelings into a piece of art.”

Hannah Gordon, a freshman at SBU, uses her instruments to illicit a calming sensation during times of increased stress.

“Depending on the type of stress I’m feeling I reach for my guitar, drum pad or keyboard,” she said. If I’m playing on my drum pad, I practice my rudiments, which allows my mind to just go numb for a while because most of the effort is just muscle memory.”

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Hannah playing her acoustic guitar outside her dorm room.

Gordon said playing and listening to a repetitive rhythm helps her anger or anxiety to subside, allowing her to think clearly.

“If I’m upset about something, I go for my acoustic guitar. I play rhythms with G, Em, D, and Am chords,” she said. “I usually sit on my bed, close my eyes and play it over and over again, completely tuning out the world around me.”

The soothing sounds of music combined with your own creativity provides a healthy outlet for your emotions.

“When I was really young—before I played any instruments—I wrote poetry and lyrics to express myself and relax,” Gordon said. “Ever since I started playing music, I write more poetry, but I have always gone to an instrument to de-stress and calm down.”

Our bodies have the ability to calm itself down physically and emotionally. Substitute self-medication with healthy self-expression.

 

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Loving yourself daily: Learning to forgive your actions

Irate text messages, explosive reactions, forgotten responsibility or worse – we have all made mistakes.

No matter the severity, it’s imperative that we let go and move on. Forgetting the past will allow you to move peacefully into the future.

Your inner critic helps the mind to grow, change and flourish. However, that same critic can sometimes be the toughest. Do not keep yourself from happiness because of prior actions. Need help getting started? Try these ideas:

1. Physically get rid of it

Gather everything that reminds you of what you’re trying to forget and forgive, and trash it forever. Delete the text messages, burn the photos, or edit your friends list on social media. Small, perhaps petty things like this will ease moving on.

2. Define yourself

Decide which morals and values you want to live by from today on. Leave the past in the past, and move on to tomorrow with those in mind.

3. Consider your mistakes a learning experience

Stop beating yourself over previous events. Read between the lines and understand the lesson instead of dwelling on the negative.

4. Accept yourself, flaws and all

The sooner you learn to embrace self-love, the sooner you will be able to forgive and accept yourself. If not, that inner critic will continue to nitpick at the little things including your regrets.

5. Do something for you

Once you’ve made the decision to move on from your mistakes, go out and do something that you love. Stop punishing yourself. Accept the consequences of your actions, and leave it behind.

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International Happiness Day

Today is the International Day of Happiness, a day created by the United Nations to recognize the importance of happiness and well-being as universal goals.

The human soul is constantly searching for happiness.  Without it, life becomes bland and monotonous. The key to finding that happiness is ridding your life of negativity and self-neglect.

Happiness often comes with the decision to love yourself first.  Each week, I’ll be posting ways to work on your own self-acceptance.

Start today by removing all negativity from your own life; people, old habits, destructive thoughts or behaviors, etc. Replace them with something positive.

An optimistic outlook on the future will pave the way to genuine happiness, not just temporary bliss.  Make the decision to change your ways and be the reason behind your own smile.

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Water’s effect on the body and mind

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Over 60 percent of the human body is composed of water.  We’re told to get our “eight glasses a day” but up to 75 percent of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.

Drinking more water everyday will not only keep you healthy, but it can help improve your mood.

Dehydration takes a toll on the body.  Even mild dehydration can effect cognition, concentration, and the ability to control your mood. 

Drinking water will boost your energy, helping you to feel more focused and alert. Staying hydrated will prevent feelings of fatigue, which may help reduce anxiety or stress. Water is also necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins, while detoxifying the liver and ridding itself of toxins.

Carry a water bottle daily to remind you to keep drinking, and your body will thank you.

In with the good, out with the bad. A healthy body will allow for a happy mind.

 

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Laughter: Your body’s all-natural medicine

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after throwing your head back and letting out your best, genuine chuckle?

Laughing is good for you!

Laughter exercises and relaxes muscles, improves respiration, stimulates circulation, increases the production of pain-killing endorphins, decreases the production of stress-related hormones, enhances immunity and induces a positive, emotional state.

If you’re having a bad day, take a minute to understand the irony of a situation and laugh about it. Allowing yourself a giggle will decrease the amount of cortisol that your body produces because of stress, which will lower your blood sugar and heart rate.  A laugh or two can also cause the body’s production of endorphins, an all-natural pain reliever.

Find a reason to laugh every day, and reap the benefits that this all-natural gift can do for your mind, body and soul.

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Love yourself first this Valentine’s Day

Made-up or not, Valentine’s Day is a day meant to be spent smothering each other with love (including yourself).

Whether you’re single or happily taken, take this V-Day to treat yourself to the best kind of love – self-love.

If you’re taken:

To truly accept someone’s love, you must accept yours first. If you don’t, you run the risk of dividing your attention between your own insecurities and your significant other.  Loving who you are will allow you to focus on your relationship, and what you and your partner need. It wouldn’t be fair to either of you otherwise.

If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your boyfriend or girlfriend, take some time beforehand for yourself. Transform your pre-date-getting-ready-ritual into a lavish, relaxing pampering session.  Spend a day trying on new outfits and find the perfect one for your date.  Buy some new lip gloss, spend extra time on your hair, or splurge on some fancy body soap for a luxuriously long bubble bath.  Look good, feel good.

Whatever you do, do it for yourself.

If you’re single:

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Gather your fellow single friends and all your favorite things. Spend the night at home enjoying each other’s company, laughing, and loving each other. Celebrate being single, and the fact that you don’t have to share a side of your bed with anyone else tonight.

If staying in isn’t your thing, dress up and go out anyways. You don’t need be in a relationship to celebrate Valentine’s Day and have a good time.

Celebrate love instead. 

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Happiness in a hug

Photo credit: kittehkats.tumblr.com

Photo credit: kittehkats.tumblr.com

Panicked? A drug-free anti-anxiety medicine is right at your disposal. 

Aristotle said “Man is by natural a social animal,” and he’s right.  Human beings desire a certain sense of connection and community with others. 

Joining someone in a mutual embrace releases oxytocin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland.  Once in the blood stream, oxytocin lowers our heart rate, blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety.

A hug can nurture a human relationship, creating trust and a sense of calm between its participants. 

Give more hugs.  Give happiness.

Photo credit: yesaskmerelationships.tumblr.com

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Keeping calm during finals week

Student-Studying

Finals week is here, and the inevitable end-of-the-semester anxiety is setting in.

Before you panic, keep these in mind.

1. Continue to de-stress

Roger Keener, Ed. D., director of the Center for Student Wellness at St. Bonaventure University, said students should continue their usual stress management regiment.

“I think anytime students are under stress they forget what works,” he said.  “Take some breaks or time away, and breathe.”

2. Create a structured study plan

Plan to focus and work, but also build in break and relaxation times.

“That could include watching a movie, reading a book, exercising or socializing with friends in appropriate ways,” he said. “I think a lot students try to cram and overwork and become exhausted because they don’t get the proper rest and relaxation. That exasperates the stress.”

3. Get your 8 hours at the right time

The recommended eight hours of sleep still applies during finals week, and students should plan for it, Keener said.

“Studies show that the best hours of sleep come before 12 a.m.,” he said.  “It is really about setting up an effective program that is going to work for you.”

4. Rest up before hitting the hay

Keener said a relaxation period before going to sleep is especially important, lasting for at least an hour.

“When students study up until going to sleep, they are wound up because they haven’t had any downtime,” he said. “I always stress that rest is valuable to sleep.  It is the precursor to sleep.”

5. Take care of yourself

Considering self-care is also important, especially for students dealing with a mental or physical illness.

“Students need to take care of themselves in general with the proper rest and medication, just like they would if they had a cold.”

6. Make a gratitude list

“Students get stressed over things they haven’t accomplished yet. Make a list in your mind of what went well,” Keener said. “Don’t think about what you have to do to tomorrow, but how good you feel now.  Be in the present moment.”

7. Plan for meals

Keener advises students not to skip meals but to plan for them instead.

“Eat healthy foods as much as possible and structure eating into your schedule,” he said. “Watch what you are putting in your body in terms of stimulants, like caffeine and sugar.”

8. Stay active

Rob DeFazio, director of the Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership at St. Bonaventure offered quick exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own bedroom or study space.

“Sit on the floor and reach for your toes, with either your legs together or apart. This will help stretch the hamstrings and the lower back which could tighten from sitting too long,” he said. “Push-ups are also good as they will help get the blood flowing throughout the body and help to wake your muscles up.”

Also, consider taking a short walk with a friend to get your mind off of things during study breaks.

9. Stay positive

Confidence is key when it comes to succeeding.  Your work will reflect your optimism.

Keep calm, carry on, and good luck!

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Yoga to get out of bed

Hello, all –

I found this post on Tumblr, and I’m so in love with it that I had to share. Enjoy!

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“So you’re in bed. You’re snug. You’re cosy. You don’t want to get out ever! But here’s 9 yoga poses to help your sleepy self get up.
1. Savasana- just chill for a bit and breath deeply and enjoy that sun streaming in
2. Cobra- stretch that back like the crazy cat you are
3. Extended child’s pose- now stretch your back the other way. Your covers come off too. Magic!
4. Camel pose- now sit on your knees and throw your arms back to your toes like some sort of shawshank redemption prison break.
5. Forward bend- now stand up on those sexy pins and try not to fall off the bed
6. Pigeon pose- almost there. Are you smiling yet? You should be you sexy minx bird of paradise
7. Seated forward fold- touch your toes! Wiggle them and giggle at your cuteness
8. Kneeling side plank variation- stretch that delish body of yours and try not to blind yourself at how radiant you are
9. Meditation- don’t think just yet. Just enjoy that beautiful stillness

Now step off that cosy bed of yours and sashay the fuck out of bed. Namaste.”

Photo credit: http://asanaambitions.tumblr.com/

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“I still believe in summer days,
The seasons always change,
and life will find a way.”

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