The nation is slowly unlocking, step-by-step getting back into the swing of previously established routines or creating new ones. The risks of the virus alone is enough to make you dread returning to work or stop you from socialising. On top of this fear, the faster pace of life and influx of deadlines and tasks is a lot to process. Express.co.uk spoke to Executive Leadership Consultant, Mindset Coach, Founder of Mindful Talent and co-founder of the Mindful Talent Coaching Academy Alister Gray.
States of stress, anxiety and overwhelm are to be expected during this strange time of life, but there are really easy trick to ease these feelings.
Mr Gray recommended six morning rituals to help you settle back into life after lockdown.
The following steps will engage your brain and keep you calm, present and focused.
Stop pressing the snooze button and get out of bed early to practise these exercises.
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Focussing on your breathing each morning will prepare you for the day ahead.
Mr Gray explained: “Our breath is an incredible tool that enables us to clear the mind first thing, connect to the present moment and improve our overall focus as well as our physical health.
“To create and maintain a sense of calm as we re-enter life after lockdown, it is important we activate our para-sympathetic side of our autonomic system (our rest & digest state) through breath-work.
“This will help slow the heart rate, keep you grounded, calm and balanced and primed for the day that lies ahead.”
You can do this following this simple breathing technique:
Close your eyes and practise inhaling to the count of four, holding your breath to the count of four, then exhaling through your mouth for the count of four.
Over time you can increase the count for all parts.
The important thing is that you maintain a consistent count for the inhale, hold and exhale, as this will help create balance and focus and allow you to start your day with a calm, relaxed mindset.
With lockdown easing and Brits returning to their hectic schedules, your mind is likely to fill up with worries and un-ticked chores on your to-do list.
Mr Gray said: “With an increased level of work, activities and social commitments, the mind chatter will inevitably increase as well.
“A great way to slow the mind is to practice morning meditation.
“There are many ways to meditate and a great place to start is with guided meditation, however if you want to start your morning without technology being present, then use this simple mantra meditation to take you deeper into present moment awareness.”
Simply close your eyes, straighten your back, relax your shoulders and begin to focus on the inhale and the exhale.
Then on every inhale repeat (in your head) the word “So” and on every exhale the word “Hum”, repeat this mantra “So-Hum” in alignment with the rhythm of your breath.
Whenever you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the mantra and your breath.
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Journalling isn’t the same as writing a diary. If you don’t have a journal, then buy one!
Mr Gray said: “Journaling is a great tool for coping with stress and anxiety.
“Practicing regular journaling can help you through anxious feelings and help to reduce over-thinking or obsessing over things.
“It’s a great technique that can help solve the root of your anxiety, which in turn creates clarity of mind and minimises the symptoms.
“It’s a really powerful practice that can help to examine and shift through anxious thoughts, and also empower you into action.”
It’s really simple, all you have to do is spend time each morning asking yourself some questions. Five minutes is enough to start.
Record things like:
What would make today great?
If I could complete one task today, what would I choose?
Who could I reach out to who I’ve not connected with in a while?
Mr Gray said: “As you become more comfortable with journaling, you can change the questions and mix it up.
“Journaling is an incredible way to develop emotional regulation, creating space and time to consider, think and reflect on a deeper level, whilst simultaneously helping you to release unwanted emotions and feelings by labelling them through writing (knowing as affect labelling in neuroscience).”
Gratitude & Appreciation
Stop being so pessimistic and start being grateful for what you have.
Mr Gray explained that gratitude and appreciation stimulate parts of the brain that release positive chemicals and endorphins throughout your body, this is accomplished by focusing on positive experiences, memories and thoughts.
“This will ultimately make you feel less anxious, happier, healthier and perceiving the world through a more positive lens.
“Gratitude is the natural antidote to all fear! It is impossible to feel grateful and fearful at the same time.”
Every morning and every evening, spend 5 minutes writing down three to five things you are grateful for.
Then spend a few minutes on each, considering the reasons why you are grateful for these people, things, situations and experiences.
Mr Gray stressed: “It’s important to connect to the reasons WHY you appreciate them so much as this will evoke an emotional response in our minds and hearts, when we connect to the feeling, this is when practising gratitude becomes powerful and impactful.”
You have to be able to picture yourself feeling calm and relax to make it happen.
Mr Gray said: “For decades Olympic athletes and sports professionals have used the power of visualisation to help them prepare for big events and competitions, often referred to as ‘mental rehearsal’.
“The incredible thing is that your brain doesn’t know the difference between an imagined reality and what we call reality.
“Therefore, by spending time each morning, imagining and visualising the day that lies ahead, we are essentially programming our brain to look for, and create, opportunities to manifest this imagined reality into existence.
“Visualization involves using mental imagery and can also be used to achieve a more relaxed state of mind, therefore helping to reduce anxiety, stress and overwhelm.”
Simply take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your in breath and out breath, and bring to mind a moment in life when you felt so relaxed.
It may have been when you were on holiday by a beach/pool, spending time walking or hiking in nature or whilst swimming/surfing in the sea.
Wherever and whatever it was, bring that moment to mind, imagine and remember how you felt and enjoy basking in your happy place.
Think about what you want to happen in order to make these dreams a reality.
Mr Gray explained: “Intention setting can often be confused with goal setting or targets.
“Although alike, they are entirely different in a subtle yet powerful way.
“Intention setting is about considering how you would like to be and feel as you move throughout your day… kind of like an anchor that you can return to in any moment.
“Take a moment to write down the questions “How would I like to feel as I move throughout my day?” and “How would I like to show up today?”, then spend 5 minutes writing down your answers in your journal.”