Tag Archives: stress

Join my free #30dayeftchallenge and boost your self-care

I had the plague (‘flu) over Christmas and New Year and lost the will to take even the most basic self-care steps for days as I wasn’t up to it.

Have been well again for nearly a week and am doing regular Happy Dances at having energy and being able to do things. This renewed appreciation of life has also coincided with my effort to tap daily – I’ve meditated and done (at least a little) yoga daily since 2013 but would normally only tap on myself when feeling pretty dire.

And every time, I’d be amazed at how quickly it helps! There’s something so powerful about VOICING our upsets, even just to ourselves. Then, the concentration of tapping specific points helps stop rumination, getting us back into our bodies and the present moment. And, of course, the fact that we’re working with meridians, tapping acupressure points, means we’re releasing blocked energy.

It might take a minute or two or, if something’s especially upsetting, much longer. But by doing it daily, I’m noticing how much happier I am feeling in general. It’s helping me get out of my own way and be more open to opportunities.

By creating this simple challenge, we’ll tap daily and share #day1 (or whatever day it is for you) and #30dayeftchallenge and, if you want #pain #niggles #anger #grudges #stress #anxiety #worry #block #cranky #gratitudes #sleep #whateveritisyouvetappedonwithoutsharingmorethanfeelsgoodforyou

To give you an example of how I’ll be sharing, today’s tweet will be as simple as:

#30dayeftchallenge #eft #day1 I launched this challenge today and hope you’ll join me – today, I tapped around #health What did you tap on?

I’ll be sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hope this will grow so please share with anyone you think might benefit.

EFT is a transformative (and simple, and free) tool. I qualified in 2006 and became an advanced practitioner a few years ago. I included some tips around it in my book, 365 Ways to Feel Better and you can access a free video below if you don’t already know how to tap or want a reminder.

I’ll also be answering questions on my social media pages so please connect with me there as anything you’re unsure about is likely to help others, too.

For facebook, my book group (with extra support for people reading the book) is accessible HERE

You can also like my page HERE if you’d like regular updates

I’m on Twitter @wellbeingeve

Instagram @evemenezescunningham

You can find out more about some of the research around EFT, my approach and access a couple of interviews I did about EFT in general and for trauma for BACP’s trauma conference a few years ago HERE

Hope you find tapping as helpful as I have!

It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it – I’ve shared instructions to the Short Cut for simplicity but a quick Google will bring up loads of resources.  I include EFT as part of some of my coaching if that’s of interest – I’ll also be tagging other EFT practitioners in case they’re more local to you and you want to work face to face.

It’s also worth checking out the Tapping World Summit (HERE) and registering for this free event with loads of big names (created by Nick and Jess Ortner). The world can be your lobster!

Feel share to comment below as well as on social media. I’ll be answering as many questions as possible.

love,

Eve

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Some benefits of Chair pose

Chairbenefits

You can come into Chair from Mountain pose or from standing with your feet hip distance apart, both feet facing forwards. Inhale and raise both arms overhead. Exhaling, bend your knees and bend your upper body forward.

Hold for up to 3 minutes (it will get easier with practice) and notice your breath. When ready to come out of it, inhale and straighten your knees. Exhale and release your arms.

Wonderful for panic attacks (hold for 3 minutes then rest before holding it for 3 minutes, resting and holding it for a final 3 minutes (if you want to do more, that’s fine but your thighs may protest at first)).

Again, this is something you can do almost anywhere as well as during your yoga practice. Stressed at work? Pop to the loo and do a quick Chair pose!

It’s really hard to remember what was stressing us out when we feel our thighs. Keeping our focus on bringing our breath down, as if from the belly, as well as maintaining that longer, calming exhalation means it rarely takes the prescribed 3 minutes of holding Chair to conquer panic attacks.

Added bonus? Grounding through the soles of the feet (you might want to imagine breathing in the earth’s grounding energy, too, inhaling it up and exhaling it back out again) while reaching for the heavens reminds us that the more grounded we can remain in our lives, the higher we can reach, the more we can achieve.

What are your favourite things about Chair pose?

Challenges?

What helps you most when anxiety strikes?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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Resting is *really* good for us – savasana benefits

SavasanaBenefits

 

I used to hate Savasana / Corpse pose when I first started attending yoga classes back in 2001. I didn’t see the point at all. And it would make me not just cry but sob. So everyone else in the class seemed to be having a great old time relaxing at the end and I felt even worse about potentially disturbing them as tears refused to stop.

Had it not been for the pain relief benefits of the physical practice, I’d have run a million miles (if I were a runner) in the opposite direction from yoga. Still, pain relief helped me persevere and as I got to know more about this psycho-spiritual practice, I figured that whatever I was releasing was ready to go.

With hindsight, I could have made it much easier on myself but I was new to yoga.

If you struggle in Savasana, maybe knowing the physiological benefits (and it’s capacity to retrain the ANS so we’re better able to calm ourselves down off the yoga mat as well as during our practice) will encourage you to persevere.

And if, like many, you already love it, I hope you’ll be able to love it even more knowing just how good it is for us.

We spend so much time rushing about, on the go, pushing ourselves to accomplish more and more. Our nervous systems rarely need any help in being lifted. 2016’s 24/7 society does that for us. An email (or even thought about an email – or anything else) can trigger the same stress response that our ancient ancestors reserved for genuine threats to our lives like saber-toothed tigers.

To practice (don’t be fooled – it may look simple but it is a practice – some days will feel easier than others), lie on your mat and let your head, neck and spine be nicely aligned in a straight line. Allow the feet and legs to roll out and release the arms away from the body with the palms facing up.

If there’s any discomfort, a bolster, cushion or rolled up blankets under your knees can ease that. And tune into your own body’s wisdom to see if there’s anything else you need in this moment (a blanket, socks, whatever might make you more comfortable as you allow the benefits of your yoga practice (or run, or any other type of exertion) sink in.

While it may be easy for you to simply let go and relax, it may be helpful for you to use your breath as an anchor (click here for reminders) to stop the kind of rumination / stressful thoughts / flashbacks that made me think I hated this pose all those years ago.

You’ll probably notice that it’s much easier to practice after a more dynamic session than simply going from being quite inactive to Savasana. This is because that movement will have helped to burn off lots of the stress hormones allowing the system to release that anxiety and stress and simply be present to noticing heart rate, breath, the feel of the ground supporting you and so on.

If you’re still feeling a bit antsy, you might want to co-ordinate the tightening and releasing of the thighs with each breath (inhale tighten, exhale release). As well as offering a focus for your mind, this honours the body’s natural fight/flight impulse (relaxation can trigger that when it hasn’t felt safe to relax) while, again, using the larger muscles in the thighs to burn off more of those stress hormones.

You might also want to use the time to allow the earth to take anything (habits, behaviours, beliefs, aches, pains, tensions, stresses, worries – ANYTHING) you’re ready to release into the earth, knowing it can be recycled for the benefit of the planet. You may consciously think, ‘Yup, defo ready to release _____!’ or it may be a more general, trusting, letting go of whatever’s ready to be let go of without even consciously remembering it.

As with everything, you know yourself best and what’s best for you during any given practice.

What helps you relax into Savasana?

What gets in the way?

What have you learned from your most memorable ones (relaxing or even stressful)?

Feel free to comment below.

And you can find out more about my classes here and my work with individuals here.

Love,

Eve x

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Mindful breathing (aka conscious breathing)

MindfulBreathing

My new year blog resolution is to do a new yoga blog each week. In each, I’ll introduce a different asana (pose), pranayama (breathwork), meditation or relaxation.

Because my background is in mental and emotional health and wellbeing (you can find out more here), I’ll be focusing on these benefits.

And I’m going to start with the most important (to me) element of yoga: The breath. I started going to yoga classes about 15 years ago but it was only when I started training as a yoga therapist and instructor that I finally understood the importance of conscious breathing and co-ordinating our movements with the breath.

Sun Salutations and other asanas were transformed for me when I learned to use the breath (as oppose to the pretending I’d been doing all those years).

Yet tuning into your own movement and breath can be especially hard to do in classes – the instructor’s instructions will be unlikely to match your natural speed and everyone in the class – even in my tiniest classes – will have different breath rates so practicing on your own can be especially helpful.

For anyone who’s new to yoga, being told when to inhale and exhale as well as where to put various limbs and what to look at may feel completely overwhelming and it’s completely natural to overlook the breath.

And yet mindful (sometimes called conscious) breathing has so many benefits. Today, I’m going to encourage you to notice your breath just as you sit (or if it’s more comfortable, stand or lie down).

In the weeks ahead, I’ll encourage you to continue to be aware of the breath and it will become easier. Having said that, we’re human beings. Our minds are going to wander. And this is one of the beauties of being mindful of our breath. It’s always there to come back to. We don’t need any props.

Sometimes, we’ll stay focused on it throughout our practice. Other days, we’ll have to concentrate really hard on co-ordinating our movements with the breath.

While the latter can feel frustrating, in terms of brain activity, it’s actually a good thing as we’re cultivating the mind, strengthening the prefrontal cortex and this will help with emotional regulation, decision making and concentration.

When it’s harder, we have to be that much more mindful! And it’s a great gauge for how you might be feeling on any given day. Just as with the poses, we’re more flexible / stronger / have more stamina on different days, our capacity to concentrate varies when we’re stressed or have a lot on our minds.

And, of course, spending just a few minutes coming into the present moment and using the breath as an anchor to aid mindfulness will help us better deal with all those things awaiting our attention when we step off our yoga mats and into our day ahead.

For today, once you’ve made yourself comfortable, aim to have the spine as straight as feels comfortable. Some people like to imagine a cord pulling them up through the crown of their heads. If this is an image that supports you in sitting straight and comfortably, feel free to use it.

Start by noticing where you’re breathing from at the moment. The top of the lungs? Middle of the lungs? Lower lungs?

If you’re able to breathe more deeply, as if from the lower lungs (sometimes known as diaphragmatic breathing), it will help you calm your whole system by pausing the stress response. You’ll also be better able to absorb more oxygen.

How does that feel? Some people find it easy, when breathing consciously, to shift this. Others struggle. Just notice whatever is the case for you in this moment. This isn’t about judging ourselves, just being curious and kind. Beating ourselves up won’t help us relax.

Now notice the ratio of your inhalation to exhalation. Are they balanced? Is the inhale longer? Or the exhale?

A longer inhalation can be great for energising our whole systems but, in this 24/7 world we live in, with our stress responses being triggered so often, we rarely need to do so. Instead, we can consciously calm our systems by having a deliberately longer exhalation. If you like to count, maybe in for 1 and out for 2. Or in for 2 and out for 4. Work with figures that support your natural breath.

A balanced breath balances the system and the brain but, again, it is more balancing longer term, to calm the system during our meditative / yoga practice.

How does it feel to consciously elongate your exhalation for a few moments? (You can do it for longer if you want). And it might be that even at home, alone, suddenly questioning the way you breathe might be making you stressed and anxious about something you’ve done naturally your whole life.

Breathing mindfully like this for three minutes or longer, can help activate the Relaxation Response, the body’s natural antidote to the more frequently triggered Fight/Flight Response (both identified in the same Harvard lab, decades apart, the Relaxation Response by Dr Herbert Benson and Flight / Flight by Walter Cannon).

We’re alive and this is wonderful. It’s also a great reminder, for those times when our inner critics tell us we’re doing whatever (in this case breathing) ‘wrong’, that we’re still alive so it’s all good.

It’s just worth remembering that when we choose to breathe more consciously, we’re calming and potentially even retraining the autonomic nervous system (ANS), supporting our heart health, immune function, easing stress and anxiety and allowing the body’s natural healing capacities to kick in.

I encourage you to build up. You may want to time a minute and count your complete breaths (an inhalation and exhalation equalling one complete breath) so you can fit a minute of conscious breathing / mindful breathing in throughout your day whenever it feels good (without having to set timers or complicate things).

And, of course, building up will bring you additional benefits.

What did you notice about your breath today?

Were you breathing more from the lower lungs, middle of the lungs or top of the lungs?

How did it feel when you chose (if you chose – you may have been perfectly comfortable breathing from the top of your lungs and chose to continue!) to breathe more deeply?

Did it help relax you?

How about your inhalation and exhalation?

Were they equal?

Was the inhale longer?

Or the exhale?

If you chose to consciously calm your system through your breath, did the longer exhalation help you today?

Did counting help or did you prefer a more intuitive approach?

Feel free to comment below.

And you can find out more about my classes here and my work with individuals here.

Love,

Eve x

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8 ‘sleeps’ until Christmas… How’s YOUR sleep? Still space on Tuesday’s ‘better sleep’ yoga class

Image courtesy of graur codrin / freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of graur codrin / freedigitalphotos.net

Whether it’s excitement, stress or something else that’s keeping you up at night, you might enjoy my Better Sleep yoga classes on Tuesday evenings (7.30-9pm). This special sequence will help you improve your sleep quality and feel more awake when you want to be.

I still have some availability for my class on Tuesday 23rd. Do get in touch (eve@feelbettereveryday.co.uk) if you’d like to find out more or to book your place.

Metta,

Eve

x

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Stressed? ‘Imagine the sound of kittens purring…’ Hilarious, adorable and definitely de-stressing vid

Rainbow definitely helps me de-stress
Rainbow definitely helps me de-stress

Best guided meditation ever?

Stressed people were invited into glass ‘therapy’ room which was then filled with kittens :) :) :)

http://pussingtonpost.com/the-secret-to-stress-relief-kitten-therapy/

I love Soul Pancake.

Metta,

Eve
x

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Promising new research on yogic breathing for PTSD

New research by Richard J Davidson et al, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, has shown promising results for downgrading hyperarousal in the autonomic nervous system.

It’s the first longitudinal randomised controlled trial to show benefits in PTSD symptoms through controlled breathing.

Find out more about this research by clicking here.

And if you’d like to experience yoga therapy sessions, courses and classes (based on the training I did at the Minded Institute, incorporating yoga, mindfulness, neuroscience and psychotherapy), get in touch to find out how you can learn to use your body and breath (as well as your mind) to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and traumatic stress (including PTSD).

POSTERYogaClassesinWithamJune14

Metta,

Eve
x

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Now booking for September’s Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 Week Course for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

My next Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 Week Course for Stress, Anxiety and Depression starts on Monday, 8th September.

POSTERytftm8wcJune14

If you’re local (enough) to Witham, Essex, and would like to learn how to use your body, breath and mind to retrain your nervous system and brain, offering immediate relief and long lasting (with practice) benefits, get in touch to find out more or visit http://yogatherapyessex.co.uk/.

Metta x

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News and special offers re Yoga Therapy Classes in Witham, Essex

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I have lots of exciting news re my yoga therapy classes and course in Witham, Essex – please share this post if you know anyone fairly local who might benefit.

NEW: Morning yoga classes – Wednesdays 10-11.30am

Having been asked about offering morning classes by a few people, I’ve decided to start next week! Click here for upcoming themes, available dates and more information. And you can book easily by getting in touch with me.

ONE SPACE LEFT for the Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 Week Course for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

This is the first of its kind (a unique blend of yoga therapy, psychotherapy, neuroscience and mindfulness) to be run in Essex and I’m excited to have ordered manuals and cds etc for my first group starting on 24th October. Click here for more information. While there’s only one space left for the current venue (in Witham), if there’s enough interest within the coming week, I can hire a larger space and order more materials so please get in touch ASAP if you’re interested. And if you can’t do that time but are interested in the course, do let me know your preferred times/days of the week for when I’m scheduling future courses.

NEW: Yoga passes for themed Yoga Therapy classes in Witham

Passes can be used for 5 or 10 classes and you can save up to £30. They can be paid for via cheque, cash, credit card, PayPal or BACS transfer and are valid for up to a year from the date of purchase. Click here to find out more.

I look forward to hearing from you (email eve@feelbettereveryday.co.uk or phone 07584 354963 or 01376 510012) if you’d like to find out more / book your space.

Metta x

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Ponsuwan

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Is your team exhibiting symptoms of stress? (my latest advice column in Natural Health, October 2013)

NaturalHealthColumnOct13StressedEmployees

Click the above link to read my tips for helping your whole team de-stress.

Metta xx

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