DE-STRESSING ….note to self

With the plethora of relaxation techniques available to us all, one would think that by now we would have our life stresses checked and in balance. Unfortunately, it's not always practical to strike a yoga stance or place your hands into a prayer pose while coping with an anxiety driven moment within the day.

There are several inward journeys that we can privately travel to help mentally detoxify those chaotic and seemingly unmanageable moments in life. Using your personal coping skills with a splash of imagination and solid dose of focused effort can purge away those stressful "hot spot" events.

Here are a few strategies to put into play, that can help return that sense of balance, restore harmony and bring peace back to your world when it feels like it is wobbling a bit too much out of its rotation.

REFOCUS – take a “mental walk” on the quiet side

The labyrinth has long been known as a symbol of a spiritual journey to the centre. It's also the outward sign of an inner personal pilgrimage. The labyrinth symbol appears in many cultures from the Hopi Indians in North America to churches and spiritual centres throughout the world.

Experiencing a labyrinth is a soft and gentle form of meditation that is physically in motion. We are using the mental, physical and emotional experience as the basis for enhancing our sense of well-being and elevating personal awareness.

You can experience this solitary meditative practise by tracing a hand-held labyrinth with your finger, or better still, by taking a meditative walk through an outdoor labyrinth. An inner sense of well-being evolves as you focus your attention taking one step at a time. Remaining on the entwined path you must trust that the journey will lead you to the centre even though you appear to be walking in opposing and opposite directions.

This introspective journey helps to shift your attention of the day as you twist and turn to reach the centre of the intricate path. Then, upon arrival of the centre, turn around and retrace your steps back to the beginning. With your refocused attention on the task at hand, a shift happens that helps to lift your spirit mentally while calming down any physical tensions that have accumulated throughout the day/week.


Fragrance is a sensory connection that often evokes a fond memory from your past. Smelling chocolate chip cookies baking in an oven triggers a flashback to your first recollection of the intensely satisfying aroma of baking chocolate. The recollection of scent memories is deeply intertwined and has long been used to reduce tension and provide a sense of stress relief.

These nostalgic connections are not coincidental. Volumes of extensive scientific studies and research attempt to document the "how and why" these aromas trigger such clear sensory memories. With one simple sniff, our olfactory response is linked to the emotional centre of our brain creating a vast array of emotional reactions - from frisky or anxious to cozy and relaxed.

Try smelling something you absolutely love to help step back from the sharp edges of a really hectic day. Create your own personal oasis of aroma therapy by seeking out those scents that evoke a sense of joy, balance or passionate love.

  • Lavender can help you sleep while providing a sense of calm.

  • Citrus scents like orange and lemon boost alertness and energy.

  • Vanilla creates a sense of joy and elevates your mood.

  • Baby powder creates a sense of security and safety.

  • Cinnamon sharpens your memory and clears your thoughts.

  • Peppermint boosts your concentration.

  • Eucalyptus and spearmint are uplifting to your spirit.

  • Chocolate and coconut elevates your mood and energy.

  • Pumpkin, cucumber and liquorice increases sexual arousal.

  • Apples create a sense of well being while reducing anxiety and tension.

  • Pine lowers depression and stress levels.

  • Fresh cut grass evokes a sense of joy and happiness.

  • Olive oil helps to satisfy an appetite and repress hunger.


The healing power of water has long been recognized for its therapeutic and rehabilitative abilities. Ancient Romans and Greeks used water to improve circulation and promote relaxation. Monks were known to treat sickness, chronic pain and physical disabilities with thermal water therapy.

Personal water therapy can take just a few brief minutes. Shift your stress by taking a moment to enjoy the therapeutic and tactile nature of water, whether in the tub or shower, or just washing your hands when at home or work.

Seek out the reflective and meditative ritual of cleansing as you feel stress accumulating in your day and exchange it by connecting with the tactile pleasure of water caressing your skin.

Focus on the movement and feeling of the water as it moves over your body. While absorbing the life affirming warmth of water take in several long deep breaths, exhale each breath slowly and enjoy the sense of calm bathing over you. This simple meditation practise helps to restore personal balance and rejuvenate depleted energy by touching you ever so softly.

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