Dr. Kellie's Top 5
Stress Management Tools
Rest, Digest & Heal
Most of us recognize that we don't feel our best when we are chronically stressed. But we don't always recognize that stress may be impacting more than just our mood for the day. Chronic stress can have long-lasting impacts on not only our emotional health, but also our mental and physical health. Stress is a significant contributor to many diseases because when we are under stress our body doesn't put energy into basic maintenance processes such as resting, digesting and healing. And what your body feels as stress isn't only what you may recognize as "feeling stressed out". Our body experiences stress from many other hidden factors, such as blood-sugar imbalances, sub-optimal nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and environmental toxins.
One of the most important benefits of a PRESH retreat is the removal or reduction of so many stressors. It's an opportunity to give your body a significant amount of time in parasympathetic mode - a state in which we can rest, digest and heal for days at a time. As amazing an opportunity as our retreats are, we can't stay there forever and nor would we want to! The goal is to return to our loved ones, obligations and commitments feeling rejuvenated, refueled and inspired. But being back home shouldn't mean that we don't continue to provide our bodies some time to relax on a daily basis. Indeed, getting into a daily parasympathetic practice is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health. And it doesn't have to take long - allocating just 15-minutes, or even less, each day to pause, breath and relax can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. Below are Dr. Kellie's top 5 recommendations for incorporating parasympathetic breaks into a busy day.
It sounds too simple, but it's amazingly powerful. Using our breath is one of the only ways we can consciously switch our body from sympathetic (fight, flight, or freeze) to parasympathetic (rest, digest and heal). Science has shown that breathing at a steady pace of 5 counts in, holding for one count at the top of the breath, and then breathing out for the count of 6 will switch the body into parasympathetic.
Try it for 5-minutes once a day. You can count in your head, or use a breath pacing app on your phone. You can also use the guided meditation recorded by Dr. Kellie at the bottom of this page.
You can't digest well in sympathetic mode. Period. Your body literally shuts off your stomach acid production when you are stressed. If you want to digest and absorb the nutrients from your food its important to signal to your body that you are not in danger, that you can take time to relax and nourish yourself. Before you sit down to eat, switch on your digestive system by taking a deep breath and spending 30-seconds thinking about your food, its origins, the nutrients in it, all the energy spent in getting it to you in its current form. How will it taste? Is your mouth watering yet? Now you're ready to eat.
Try the guided pre-meal meditation by Dr. Kellie at the bottom of this page.
Science has found that people who take breaks during the working day not only feel better mentally and physically, but are also more creative and productive. Instead of eating lunch at your desk, or on your phone, put away all your devices for at least 15-minutes and do one or more of the following:
- power nap
- listen to music
5-Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence
Inspired by Judith Hanson Lasater's "Better than a Coffee Break" restorative yoga sequence, here's an easy restorative yoga sequence that you can do in 5-minutes at your desk:
1. Desk forward bend: Sit on the edge of your chair with both feet rooted into the floor. Lean forward and place both arms on your desk. Tuck your chin, and rest your forehead on your arms. Close your eyes and breath slowly here for 3-minutes. As you come out of the pose, inhale, lift your head, unfold your arms and press your hands into your desk to help you sit up.
2. Chair forward bend: Scoot your chair away from your desk, root your feet into the floor, about hip-width apart. Slowly relax your torso down until it rests on your thighs. Allow your arms to hang by your legs and your head to be heavy. Breath slowly here for 2-minutes, then slowly come out of the pose on an inhale, pressing your hands into the sides of your chair as your unfurl your spine.
*These poses are appropriate for women who have one of the following conditions: are more than 3-months pregnant, have a hiatal hernia, retinal disease, eye pressure, sinus inflammation or degenerative disc disease.
Once-a-Month Commitment-Free Sunday
Or Saturday, or Tuesday - whichever day works best for you. Ring-fence it in your calendar, and then respect it, cherish it, look forward to it. And when you wake up on that day, take a deep breath and savor the feeling of having no plans. Do whatever you want to that day, as long as it doesn't entail work, chores or other obligations. Maybe even stay in your PJs. As a mentor of mine always says, "no one expects anything of you when you are in your PJs, including yourself."