Supporting an aging parent while juggling work and family responsibilities is often extraordinarily stressful. How do you reduce your stress level throughout the day?
Last night I read Oasis in the Overwhelm while waiting for my husband to finish cooking dinner – one of the many benefits of marrying an Italian. Author Millie Grenough (www.milliegrenough.com), a nun turned executive coach and clinical instructor at Yale University’s School of Medicine, focuses her work on helping harried caregivers and business executives live a saner, more balanced life. This quick read describes four one-minute exercises that are easily inserted in your daily routine to reduce stress. All you need is time to breathe and a rock. Yes, a rock. I’ll describe two of the exercises, but I encourage you to read the book to get the most out of them.
First, focus on your breathing. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose, then exhale through your mouth, paying attention to the natural rise and fall of your stomach. Grenough calls one exercise to calm your mind the “3-B-C” – the three breath countdown. Put both hands on your stomach, begin with an inhale, think about something pleasurable, and take three deep breaths, slowly, gently. Give yourself the time to feel your body relaxing. If you are angry or agitated, she recommends that you begin with an exhale to let those feelings go, then follow with three deep breaths. Try it – it works. Then, find a stone. Hold it in your hand and with your eyes open, breathe in and out, slowly, ten times as you study the stone with relaxed attention. When you finish your ten breaths, linger a moment more, notice your breathing, your heartbeat, and your thoughts before gradually letting your eyes move from the stone to your surroundings. The exercise only takes a moment, but it refocuses your attention and relaxes you. Read more about these techniques in Grenough’s book, which you can order here.
Have you found any strategies that work for you?
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