Pressure doesn't have to mean stress

Think of a pressure cooker. The heat and water produce steam, and if that steam isn’t released the whole thing explodes. If the steam is, however, released in time you get a beautiful meal. You need the pressure to create the delicious meal, but it is how you deal with the pressure that decides whether there is a catastrophe or triumph.

If we bring this back to ourselves and how we deal with the challenges that we experiences as part of life, we can conclude that pressure doesn’t have to mean stress and detriment to our health. In fact we need pressure to help us grow. It is simply how we understand and deal with the added pressure that decides whether we grow from it or burn out.

Health and wellness activities such as exercise, meditation, good nutrients, connecting to nature or being creative are very beneficial to us when life is good and when we have the time. However, we see the biggest moments of growth and lasting changes when we are busy, going through transition or stripped down, and we still choose to commit to training, breathing, meditating, singing, drinking water, writing, dancing or cooking.

For example, we are trying out for a more senior job and it requires more from us in confidence, in terms of time and mental application. This can feel like a lot pressure because we are being asked to upgrade our level of output. As this expansion starts to happen it feels unfamiliar because it is. So in order to support this new level of unfamiliar pressure and growth, we need tools to let of steam such as exercise, yoga and meditation to keep our neurotic thoughts at bay, we do breath-work to clear out the anxiety, we go to nature to help us stay relaxed through the evolving process. Or we may even need to go on a retreat for a weekend to let off a lot of steam and integrate the changes we are experiencing. Basically, we have to support our growth with our tool kit. Or the other option is to get burnt out from all the anxious energy building up inside of us, and become stressed. And in the end that stress, not pressure, could be the thing that actually halts us from stepping into the golden opportunity that awaits us.

This theory can be applied to juggling family life, dating someone new, moving to a different country or even beginning a new fitness regime. It is basically suggesting that rather than waiting until we are finally perfect, we see ourselves as a work in progress, and we get really good at recognising the necessary things that we are learning when the pressure is on. The practical exercises that I offer to you are designed to keep you grounded n your body, strong in your core and calm in your mind, so that you have a higher level of awareness throughout the chaos and until the dust settles.

It is natural to have doubts, to question our ability to follow through or to feel out of control. But these things don’t have to overwhelm us. I want to share with you some very practical exercises that can be effectively and quickly applied in moments of pressure and incorporate into the daily regime. See them as a way to set a solid base level for yourself each day. These things will help you to take a step back and gain perspective, to surrender to all of the pieces in play so that you can meet each moment with clarity, gratitude and inspiration.

Exercise 1: Downward Dog

Hold for 1 min with long deep breaths into the belly.

This flushes blood to the brain helping to clear through brain fog or over-thinking. It connects you to your body, so that you can give your brain a break and take a step back to gain perspective.

Exercise 2: Breath of Fire

In a seated position inhale and exhale through nose building up to a quick pace. On the exhale draw the navel in. (Do not do this if you are pregnant or on your menstrual cycle)

Generates heat in the core, burns away anxiety in the belly and opens up the air pathways.

Exercise 3: Alternate Nostril Breathing

In a seated position, eyes are closed and focusing at the inner third eye between the brows. Press the thumb to the right nostril and inhale through the left nostril for 1 min. Switch sides and breathe for 1 min. Breathe through both nostrils for 1 min. Focus on the breath soothing the brain

This clears out the nostrils to allow deeper breathing, it also balances the left and right side of the brain to allow for balanced thinking.

Exercise 4: Cold Showers

Start with the arms, rubbing them vigorously as you put them under the water. Then the same with each leg. Move onto the face. Then the arm pits. Finish up with the torso and back. Avoid the thighs and pelvis. (Do not do this if pregnant or on your menstrual cycle).

This strengthens the nervous system, clears brain fog or over-thinking, cleanses the energetic body, energises the physical body and brings blood to the skin so that you are left with a youthful radiant glow

Exercise 5: Strength Training

Slow and steady leg exercises such as, squats, lunges or deadlifts with deep breath.

The is a very grounding practice, that leaves you feeling stable, strong, supported and confident. The deep breathing throughout balances the nervous system. And the detailed focus on the technique of the exercises is a great form of meditation for the mind.

Exercise 6: Core Exercises

Leg lifts, v-sits or planks to burn away anxiety in the stomach and build confidence. Be sure to take long deep breaths as you do them and finish with either a twist or stretch for the stomach relaxing it completely.

Strengthens self-confidence and sense of purpose to drive yourself forward in life, physically supports the back and helps with anxiety.

Exercise 7: Drink Water…lots of it. And reduce caffeine

Pretty self-explanatory. But water is very cleansing energetically as well as physically, whether you are drinking it, eating foods with a high water content, such as cucumber, taking showers or swimming in nature, it with make a big difference.

Super cleansing for the physical, mental, emotional and energetic body. It should be your go to.

Exercise 8: Go on a retreat

Prioritise yourself and your own growth for a short while. Retreats provide us with the necessary space to pause, nourish and make an inspired plan of action as to the next best step for us. Join Alice for a special women’s yoga retreat in Majorca in July!

And the most important thing…

Is to be able to recognise, in that moment, when you are up levelling in life and as a result feeling the pressure. That is when you have the power to take charge and support yourself as you flourish.

Alice Bowmaker