As I write this I’m looking out into my yard and seeing a lot of weeds. Considering what to do about this I’m reminded, weeds are a lot like stress – they’re most effectively managed through regular tending. Tending that may or may not spark dramatic results in the moment, but over time does foster healthy landscapes.

Lately we’ve been exploring ways to loosen our grip with stress. Here are four daily habits (ways of tending to inner landscapes) that make a difference. You don’t need to do all four, or devote lots of time. In fact, you might have more success weeding out stress by choosing just one, and limiting time to 5-20 minutes a day. (More on the benefits of incremental habits below.)

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Each morning or evening jot down three to five things you appreciate. It’s that simple. People who maintain gratitude practices tend to be healthier and happier.

Scan Your Body

Moving from toes to top of head, scan your body for sensations of both holding and ease. When you arrive at tension, can you gently soften? Breath in or around the area? Wherever you discover places of relaxation, might you linger for a few moments? Scanning your body in this way helps the mind remember, and return to, its healthy resting place.

Breathe on Purpose

Elongate breath cycles, match length of inhales to exhales, sense into space between in- and out-breaths…  Abiding with conscious breathing sends a signal to our sympathetic nervous system (stress response system) that it can take a break, facilitating balance in our whole nervous system.

Take Your Senses for a Walk

Whether around the block or along a favorite trail, dedicate a daily walk to sensory pleasure. How present can you be with sounds, colors, textures, and smells? What does your body feel like before and after? Attuning to the world around us is a wonderful way to gain perspective.

 

Posted by: Ashley Dahl, MSW, CMT-P / Executive Director (she/her pronouns)

 

PS Curious about the power of incremental habits? Check out Body Thrive: Uplevel Your Body and Life by Cate Stillman. Weaving insights from behavioral science with ayurvedic and yoga practices, Stillman shows how to foster lifelong wellness one impactful habit at a time. (Listen to an Insights at the Edge interview with Stillman here.)

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