These days, tools for de-stressing have become posh: we see our co-workers sneaking off into corners to meditate, our kids clutching stress-balls before exams. And despite the fact that we as a society have become aware of the debilitating nature of stress, physically, mentally, and even on a cellular level, we don’t often think about how multi-faceted the process of de-stressing can be. The truth is, there’s no one way to fight it. Stress is different for all of us, and in our moments of deep need we’ll do just about anything. Looking for advice on the best place to start? We asked six experts in the art of staying calm what helps them de-stress in the heat of the moment. Here’s what they said.
Brandi Ryans, massage therapist and yoga teacher based in New York City
Deep breathing, legs up the wall, and sandalwood oil on my neck.
Russell Case, director of the Ashtanga yoga program at Stanford University
Relax your tongue and stare at a point. Immediately without even thinking your next breath will be huge. This creates what’s called pratyhara—the sense that your organs are attached to your mind’s objects—they’re not, and in that breath, they will become disentangled. Craving and aversion will slip away, you will be neither bothered by rain nor light. This is euphoria.
Lily Stroud, yoga teacher based in New York City
Lying on the floor. It’s grounding and you break the cycle of trying to always be doing something. Just stretch and breathe for a moment.
Iana Velez, editor-in-chief of NY Yoga+Life Magazine based in New York City
Music. Music is a huge part of my life, and the quickest way for me to shift my mood by covering external noise, distracting myself. Music allows me to re-focus my attention quickly. Once my attention has been shifted away from the “stressor” I can then shift to a neutral state, or if I am lucky a positive state. From that point on I can start breathing exercises to complete the shift to relaxation. Right now I’m listening to: “Genesis” by Grimes, and “Half the Perfect World” by Madeleine Peyroux.
Allie Mazur, director of growth operations at Exubrancy, an office wellness company based in New York City
A big, cheesy smile: I’ve been told that sometimes when your sad if you force yourself to smile it can actually help to make you feel a bit better by triggering the serotonin sensors in your brain (because they associate smiling with happiness of course!). For me, same goes for when I’m stressed! I put on a big, cheesy, even forced smile, take a few deep breaths, and approach anyone or anything that I encounter with positive energy. It works wonders!
Maria Macsay, yoga teacher based in New York City
A deep slow belly breath. Works every time!