Three ways to use Nature’s Rhythm to
Remedy a Stressed Mind
Rhythm as a Stress Reducer?
You may automatically think of turning up the volume on your favorite playlist, and that’s a common way to shift your mood, for sure!
But there’s another channel you could “tune in” to that might provide longer lasting relief.
This channel existed long before any of the technology we use daily and before we even existed on the planet.
It resonates throughout Creation; It’s the rhythm of the natural world and we humans are a part of that.
(Yeah, we tend to forget that part).
This became super obvious to me when a friend brought a drum to a leadership retreat we were running where we paired leaders with horses..
I must have looked unsure of the purpose of this instrument in the farm environment, so she suggested I beat on it in an easy rhythm
All the horses came to the fence near us.
“Now, go arrhythmic,” She said. (that’s not easy to do by the way!)
I changed the beats to be erratic.
The horses walked away.
Nature loves rhythm.
We are part of nature as we are designed. (Even if we choose to live in buildings and drive in metal boxes down streets).
There are many ways we have become distanced from natural rhythm and we are paying a price:
Consider how cell phone notifications that interrupt early every activity seem the norm, but in fact, are arrhythmic disruptions to our focus and cause tiny bursts of stress to our bodies and brains throughout the day. (Wockharthospitals.com)
Turning off the notifications on smart devices is helpful, but to fully understand our connection as humans to rhythm, we can start with our experience before birth. Our very first experience was mother’s heartbeat!
We are born with a preprogrammed attraction to rhythm! It is soothing to us.
- Think of the rhythm of ocean waves on the beach.
- The rhythm of our breath.
- The daily faith of seeing sun-to-moon-to-sun in our sky.
- Even the rhythm of the migration of songbirds outside of your window. (I am looking at the returning robins hopping through my front lawn as I write this).
We can tap into this remedy for anxiety and stress every day.
Here are three ways to counteract our disruptive “norm” and reset our awareness of natural rhythm that you can do right now:
- Take a mindful walk. It’s not about speed in this walk but about consciousness; be conscious of your feet moving in a steady pace. Match your breath to your steps. Bring your awareness to the transition of weight on your feet as each touches down and moves you forward.
- Breathe. Great if you only have a minute and it can be done no matter where you are. Bringing attention to your breath brings the mind into the present moment (not worrying about the future) and brings rhythm into the middle of a chaotic day.
- Breathe in for four seconds so that it feels the lower back is expanding with fresh air.
- Hold for 4 seconds.
- Release the breath completely for 8 seconds.
- Repeat three times or more.
*Hint: Imagine your breath as an ocean wave… coming in…and out.
- Get outside. Even a few minutes experiencing the sun in its daily movement can help reset a sense of rhythm. Combine this with some deep breaths and bring awareness to bugs or birds that are active during the time of day you are outside. Realize you are witnessing their rhythm of daily life. They are a part of your world, and you are a part of theirs. 20-30 minutes is optimum for cortisol reduction but even 5-10 minutes can help!
To see and feel results from these simple practices the first step is to be aware of what stress feels like for you. What are the signs that you need to break from a task, for instance? Is there tightness in your shoulders, stomach, or chest
Are you feeling unusually short tempered behind the wheel or with a co-worker or spouse?
Identify the feeling of anxiety. Acknowledge your power to control it. Choose a method above to take care of yourself.