Considering that it is National Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought we could look at some ways to de-stress and be more calm, relaxed and less anxious. Even with the end of the pandemic on the horizon, I was reminded that the stress we've all endured over the past year probably won't just magically disappear. Instead, it may even take on new forms. For example, some people will experience crowd anxiety they never had before, or fear returning to an office setting, or be upset that life isn't exactly as it was in the "before times."

I personally felt more isolated and disconnected from people, and even though I could connect via Zoom, it's not the same as being together in person.

I spoke to the renowned mediation and music expert Murray Hidary, founder of Mind Travel, who shared the following insightful tips that I thought would be helpful for us all. Plus, I added some specific medical benefits and reasons for incorporating meditation into your life, which I am reciting from my school Institute of Integrative Nutrition. All of which, I hope you'll also find find fascinating! You'll also find some relaxing and de-stressing foods, as well as a new farm-sourced beauty product to nurture and heal.

But first, a bit more about Murray Hidary, a former tech shark, turned concert pianist and composer, used music and meditation to help him manage grief when his sister died in a tragic accident. Today, this meditation and music is combined in MindTravel, which is unlike any other meditation experience we've seen. At a MindTravel performance, you can expect a framing intention – typically a short talk from Murray – followed by a powerful musical experience, either in a theater setting accompanied by projected visuals that carry the lecture from the theoretical to the real, or in an outdoor setting using nature as the backdrop and inspiration for a “silent” live-to-headphone experience on the beach, in a park or on your rooftop.

His purpose-driven approach is at the heart of his business success, acclaim as a visual artist and global recognition as a musician. Ever pushing boundaries and guided by a strong desire to help people find their purpose, Murray is now focused on touring his immersive musical experience MindTravel across the globe. Over the past five years, Murray has created over 500 MindTravel experiences for over 100,000 people in cities from Los Angeles to London, Paris to Pittsburgh, Berlin to Boulder; in venues such as Lincoln Center, The Theater at the Ace Hotel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Grace Cathedral, and The National Arts Club.

TIPS FROM MURRAY:

TAKE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN ...

... To the people around you, even if you disagree with them

... To nature -- go outside and "hear" the quiet -- there is healing in absence of sound

... To music – it can uplift or soothe (and don’t just listen – sing, because it can really place you in the moment and relieve stress by redirecting your attention!)

CONTROL ONLY WHAT YOU CAN REALISTICALLY CONTROL

Focusing obsessively on things outside our direct sphere of influence like stories in the news can exacerbate stress. Consume only what you need to know and return to your life with awareness and intention of moving forward

MOVE FORWARD, AND ALWAYS TAKE SMALL STEPS

They always add up. Focus on what is in front of you even if it just emptying the dishwasher or making a concrete plan for your day.

ACCEPT UNCERTAINTY

As humans, we are hardwired to want to plan and anticipate. If you are worried, try to focus on the most likely scenario rather than the worst one, and direct your actions there.

BE OF SERVICE

It creates connection and belonging which in turn reduces stress. Check in on someone who lives alone, or drop off supplies.

MEDITATION

Meditation is really a wonderful help to destress, relax and calm the mind. This can help your parasympathetic nervous system (of relaxation) kick in and put the sympathetic nervous system ( fight or flight) to rest.

Also, I want to share facts from my Intstitute of Integrative Nutrition school, how it benefits the body in so many different ways outside of just your relaxed, calm mental state.

Check out how meditation can serve you and your body:

Prefrontal Cortex

This portion of the brain naturally thins with age. It has been proven that meditation can reverse this process, which would otherwise contribute to cognitive decline.

Pain Response

Meditation has been proven to strengthen your pain response. The practice of mindfulness improves the body’s physiological response to pain as well as one’s perception of pain.

Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ)

This part of the brain governs perspective and empathy. A meditation modality called cognitively-based compassion training has been shown to improve the ability of subjects to read emotions on strangers’ faces.

Hippocampus

This part of the brain shapes new memories from experiences. Stress hormones have a shrinking effect on the hippocampus, interfering with memory and navigation. Meditation can help maintain the size of this structure, which is pertinent to our mental resilience.

Blood Pressure

Meditation helps to dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and thereby lowering the pressure needed to pump blood throughout the body.

Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC)

This region of the brain is associated with creativity and self-reflection. Research shows that meditation has beneficial effects on the density and structure of this region.

Amygdala

This region of the brain is involved with experiencing emotions. Stress can increase the density of this region, altering the structure of the brain. Meditating can help reduce the density and maintain the brain’s healthy structure.

Immune System

Meditation is linked to reduced inflammation and strengthened immunity.

Heart

Meditation may protect against heart disease by reducing inflammatory markers associated with its development.

Hopefully these tips and meditation will help you wheenver you might feel you need a little extra 'umph' to help you with your own mental stress. Trust me, we've all been there so hang in there. And, if you ever really need more one on one help, I always encourage a therapist in your own area. It can do wonders to have an impartial person who's there to help!

FARM-SOURCED PRODUCTS

Zinda Beauty

The brand’s hydrating cream, Moisture Rose Cuvйe, sources ingredients from Europe and Asia through farms using only responsible labor practices. In the US, the formula is created and paddle-mixed for small batches. The Moisture Rose Cuvйe delivers the skin-enhancing properties of Resveratrol and other natural ingredients including Apricot, Rose Hip, and Evening Primrose which are found in and about vineyards.

Zinda Beauty harness the amazing benefits of geranium oil because of its highly underrated natural infusion for smooth skin and mental health, plus it works wonders in pacifying the mind and reducing stress after a long, hectic day, easing all signs of tension, worry and nervousness. When inhaled as such or used in a modern-day beauty ritual like in the Moisture Rose Cuvйe.

“Resveratrol is my favorite ingredient because it Nourishes, smoothes wrinkles and redefines skin via moisture infusion in a single step. But not just any resveratrol – Zinda's encapsulated resveratrol is time-released so that keeps working for hours after application,” founder Caroline adds.

Other plant-based ingredients include:

  • Apricot Oil is obtained from the dried seeds of the fruit. Skin-softening effects are attributed to the high concentration of Vitamin C. This oil can treat a variety of skin conditions without making your skin oily and the antioxidants in the apricot slow the aging process.
  • The combination of properties in Rose Hip Oil has been shown to combat the appearance of skin damage. The antioxidants target damage-causing free radicals; and, Vitamin A, combined with the oil’s essential anti-inflammatory fatty acids helps improve skin tone, texture and pigmentation. Rose Hip Oil also hydrates, helps to exfoliate and brighten skin, aids in boosting collagen formation, assists in protecting against sun damage and contributes toward reducing hyperpigmentation.
  • Evening Primrose Oil is known to be a great moisturizer. Not only does it make the skin soft, but it also supplies it with essential nutrients and healthy fats, making your skin look youthful and supple.

This easy-to-use and special, small-batch product blends Ayurvedic herbs and CBD with organic and wild-harvested ingredients harnessing the goodness of nature to treat the whole body. The brand offers organic, handcrafted, small-batch signature massage oils, mouth pull oil, healing salve, therapeutic tinctures, and digestive bitters.When founder Joanna Matson-Tandberg was facing health issues, she started making recipes herself to remedy her ailments. Having Crohn's Disease and watching her kids go through their health challenges coupled with her dad’s Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, was incentive enough for her to find an alternate way to provide healing relief for her loved ones. The right concoctions proved to be a lifesaver and altered her journey in the process. ZV Botanicals is the result and it captures the essence of what has helped Joanna lead a healthier, mission-driven life, with products created with intention and integrity.

APRICOTS

May help to reduce anxiety. To select ripe apricots, look for fruit with a rich, orange color -- not pale yellow or green -- that's a little soft to the touch. If too firm thay have not been tree ripened!

BLACKBERRY

Promotes relaxation and has 50% of your Vitamin C DV as well as 8 grams of fiber. Harvest time typically runs June-August, but new varieties of fall-bearing blackberries allow harvests to continue through September – potentially boosting consumption and demand.

LAVENDER

Terrific for de-stressing and easing anxiety. Lavender flowers can be crushed and steeped in hot water to create a tea that will relax you and help you fall asleep. In fact, a recent study depression/anxiety study showed that those taking a lavendar capsule showed as much improvement as those taking lorazepam!


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