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Be Here Now – 2 Simple Practices

Author: Tara McGee, MSW, RSW, DipTIRP
Psychotherapist, OCSWSSW
Despite the fact that I’m a psychotherapist/yoga therapist, even I become stressed out, despite knowing so many ways to relax! In those moments, for me to remember – I actually do possess skills, abilities and internal resources that I can turn to to calm me down. My shoulders get tight, my neck gets tight, my jaw gets tight, I’m irritable about the little things and I just can’t “relax!” (as so many people will unhelpfully advise me!). So, I thought that I’d share a few of the things I know how to do, from my own personal practices, that help signal my brain to try and relax. Sometimes when we are stressed it’s due to anxiety –  being worried about what might happen in the future. The antidote to this is to bring ourselves back to the present moment.
#1.  Lie Down and Breathe – Sometimes I only have a few minutes between clients but I feel worried about something in my own life or something that just happened in the relationship with my client. My goal when working is to be present, embodied and grounded for my clients, but I’m human too, so my nervous system gets triggered from time to time. When this is the case, I lie down on my back, put my feet up on my couch and :

  • Count backwards from 30 
  • Notice my breathing for 6 breaths (One, I breathe in, One, I breathe out, Two, I breathe in, Two, I breathe out etc.)
  • Notice my exhales for 6 breaths and consciously draw lower belly in and up
  • Do a quick body scan and tell my body to relax on each body part that I scan (Head, relax, face, relax, neck and throat, relax, shoulder, relax, arms and hands, relax, rib cage, relax, abdomen, relax, whole spine, relax, legs and feet, relax)
  • Feel my body resting on the ground.
  • Hink of 5 things I’m grateful for in this moment

That takes 3 minutes and 12 seconds (I timed it!) and it brings me back, at least partially.

#2.  Go for a walk without any noise. If I have more time and I can go outside for even 5-10 minutes then this is a good option. This one is easy, free and has all the elements required to reduce stress – being outdoors, being active, getting heart rate up slightly. The important thing here is to reduce the amount of distractions you add. If you are walking while talking on the phone or listening to music, you might risk avoiding what is present around you. Instead:

  • SEE , take the time to really look around you, take in what you everything.
  • LISTEN to the sounds.
  • FEEL the air.
  • SMELL the air.
  • TASTE the air.
  • FEEL your feet as they contact the sidewalk.
  • Be right where you are with no expectations or demands. Just right here, right now.

That takes 5 minutes to however long you have. Often when we think about stress, we think that the only way to relax is to lie down – but if you think about it, stress  can be the body wanting to move to release the tension, to complete the action, to let go of the adrenaline that is pumping through your veins. Moving is a great way to calm ourselves down.

Hope these two practices help you – Tara

Relaxation reminder to inhale and exhale handwritten in textured sand with selective focus bokeh effect