How to Reduce Anxiety + Stress: 7 Paths Back to Center

Centering is far from a new concept. It has echoed through the ages in various forms and associations. Centering is a technique that focuses on staying stable and grounded. This is true in both the physical and mental aspects of centering.

In fact, in martial arts practices like Tai Chi and Aikido, centering is focused on the flow of energy attributed to the emotions you feel. Think back to the last time you were scared. It could be the anxiety around this COVID-19 pandemic. How does your body respond to this fear or anxiety? Likely, your muscles tense, palms sweaty, fast heartbeat, and rapid breathing.

Now think of a happy and joyful time? A fun weekend with the ones you love. Your wedding day. A hilarious joke you heard and couldn’t stop laughing. Your body reacts differently to negative and positive energy. Centering allows you to get back to a place where you feel secure and grounded.

In this world, it is important to establish a centering practice that can put you on a path back to center. Here are seven that you can begin practicing today:

1️⃣ Uncommon Meditation – Meditation is defined as leveraging a technique to train attention and awareness towards mental clarity and emotional harmony. To achieve this state, I recently sat down with my children and colored. This brought an unexpected calmness, attention, and clarity to what I was doing. Now I know first hand why adult coloring books became popular. What is something you can do to get the same results?

2️⃣ Anchor in Gratitude – It is more difficult to hold anxiety and stress when you are affirming what you are grateful for. Once you begin saying out loud what and who you are grateful for your entire mood shifts towards appreciation. This seemingly simple act calms the mind, releases tension in the body and releases happy chemicals from the brain.

3️⃣ Connect Daily – Connection is a powerful force. It reminds us that we are not alone in this world. Solitude can be beneficial but when we are not prepared, it can be damaging. Connecting with nature reminds us how huge this world and universe really is and connects us to the transcendent experiences of awe. Oh and of course – connect with your love ones near and far. The feeling will remind you of how much you have to be grateful for.

4️⃣ Pause + Breathe – When energy is flowing it is nearly impossible to slow down on its own. There has to be something that interrupts it. When we are feeling stressed and anxious, we are holding tension in our body. If we take a pause and begin focusing on our breathing – breathing in slowly and exhaling just as slow – then we can interrupt the negative energy. From here, we can begin to see a clear path to alternatives.

5️⃣ Imagine Grounding – When practicing my Tai Chi, there is an exercise where you focus on how your planted feet are grounded to the very structure of the building, to the earth beneath, and how that earth is connected to the waters across the globe. This practice helps calms the nerves, releases the day’s tension, and allows focus for what at hand.

6️⃣ Heart Breathing – Similar to the above, when you focus on your heart beats and imagine breathing through your heart then this practice has the effect of redirecting your energy. It is also a great reminder of what’s important as you focus on the heart beating and the blood flowing through you.

7️⃣ Written Expression – Dump it all into a journal. All of your emotional highs and lows and allow the journal to carry that weight. The act of journaling and expressing your emotions can allow you to get back to center quickly and it is also a great practice to establish self-mastery.

Like anything else in life – centering is a skill that takes time to master. Some practices, like the ones I shared, are easy to start and have immediate effects. Find a practice(s) that works well for you and you can rely on in your most stressful of situations.

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Coaches and educators:

During this pandemic response, there is a need for everyone to have some practice that they can leverage every day…including you. Your clients depend on you to arm them with the information to support their trajectory.

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