We all know those moments or days, when we just feel off kilter. Of course nobody enjoys these times. Our reaction can vary between one of acceptance, knowing this too shall pass, to one of being scared that it’ll last ‘forever’ – the latter being especially true if you’ve ever experienced depression that lasted a while.
The good news is you can influence your body’s chemistry. We have the whole chemist inside us, we just need to find ways to activate the neurotransmitters necessary to make us feel good.
In this article I look at 5 ways to change your body’s chemistry, that work for me personally. You can practise just one of these techniques, or you can practise them all in a row, preferably in this order:
1. Accept it, see it, be with it
Firstly, take a brief moment to fully accept. Become quiet and take a minute to sit with the feeling. Welcome it if possible, while being curious as to where exactly you feel it in your body, what it feels like…If it could talk, what would it say, what does it need?
Just be with it; something wants to be seen, so look at it and get to know it first without the need to change it. Most low feelings stem from an unconscious, very old, underlying fear that your survival is in danger and that you’re dependent on other people for your survival (this originates from when we were an infant and literally were dependent on others for survival).
So make yourself see that in this particular moment, that is not the case anymore. Understand that you are more than capable of looking after yourself, that you’re an adult and that your life is not in any danger. When you’re done, you can make an agreement with yourself to come back to it another day, to give it space again.
Now it’s time to start influencing your body’s chemistry with action!
2. Breathe really deeply
Take 1-3 rounds of 30 really, really deep breaths. The goal is to take in as much oxygen in as possible. Our breath will either wake us up or energise us. It will relax us, or it will balance us. Breathing exercises like these can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, making you more alkaline. But more importantly, they can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.
3. Jump around!
Arouse your energy. Jump around to some music or without music. If you’re in an environment where you can make a lot of noise, do it! If not, you can jump around in silence in the bathroom at work! You can also do some Sun Salutations quite quickly. Then finish with a pose that opens the chest area like Bridge pose. Lie on your back with the knees bent and the feet a little away from the hips. On an in-breath lift the hips up and on an out-breath lower the hips back down. Do this 4 times and on the 5th time hold the hips up and take about 5 deep and full breaths.
4. Take a cold shower
You can start with warm water first, but then lower the temperature to a feeling temperature that really startles your body, lower than 18 degrees or preferably even under 10 degree Celsius. See if you can shower between 1-3 minutes, breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth to control the breath and relax as much as possible. Cold water will flood the mood-regulating areas of your brain with happy, sparkly neurotransmitters.
5. Go outside
Preferably find some green space. Feel the fresh air on your face, use your other senses. Try and notice what is right there in front of you.
Try this out and let me know how this works. Of course it’s also really nice to share the tricks that work for you in the comments below!
Suggested class for EkhartYoga members
Yoga for when you have the blues – 45 mins, All levels, Vinyasa flow class
EkhartYoga members – this is a great yoga class to get the energies flowing when you feel a bit stuck! Foward bends, lunges, crescent pose, an arm balance, juicy backbends, twists and a hip opener, what more do you want… Definitely a class that will alter your body chemistry.
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