April is Stress Awareness Month, but really haven’t we spent the last 365+ days acutely aware of our anxiety, amidst this global pandemic? Wouldn’t we all love some tips and tools outside of a glass of wine or along run to unclench our jaws and take the tightness out of our chest? I know I would! Meet Meriden, from Meriden Mental Wellbeing. Before we get into what she does, let’s take a step back and learn about how she got here.
Sometimes it takes those unimaginable moments to transform the trajectory of our life, and that’s exactly what happened to Meriden. She was just finishing up a 40 mile training ride on her bike, feeling accomplished and proud of her progress, when she was struck by a car and found herself in a wheel chair for 3 months. Fast forward to her inevitable moment of desperation. Picture this: She working at her job in a padded cell in a psychiatric unit, frustratingly entering data with her non dominate hand, and ad popped up for a CD with a guided meditation to alleviate pain and depression. Who knew Google was watching even back then, but thank goodness they were because the tools she learned from that CD changed her mental health, her physical pain and her career.
Meriden is the founder of Meriden Mental Wellbeing where she teaches really simple techniques that we can do every single day to take care of our mental fitness. Why aren’t we teaching people these skills? We teach people how to do a bicep curl and what nutrition is important for a healthy body, but what about the foundational skills for a healthy mind? In her practice, she teaches easily implemented, simple techniques that are evidence based to increase individual’s capacity to face the hardships that will inevitably come up in life. She works with a wide range of people and teams including adolescent girls, professional athletes and corporate teams. It just goes to show that no matter if you’re a line backer, a CEO or a 7th grade girl, anxiety is real but so are the tools that can alleviate it.
As you can imagine, I was desperate to get my hands on some of these simple tips and tricks to share with all of you. These aren’t just for the hit by a car moments in life, these are for when your kid forgets their lunch, your deadline gets pushed up 3 days and a pipe bursts all before 9am. These are for #life.
So here are three simple, fool proof tips to help kick that anxiety to the curb:
Find your motivator. Are you going for that Super Bowl right or desperate to be comfortable in your own skin, or maybe you want to show up for your kids more? Whatever it is, get clear on your why and write it down. This will keep you focused on the bigger picture and keep you motivated on your journey towards mental fitness.
Stop holding your breath. We hold our breath the majority of the day and we don’t even realize it! Deep full breaths from your belly (not your chest) will change your life. Inhale through the nose and inflate your belly for 2 counts and then out through the mouth to deflate that belly for 4. This simple trick turns off the stress response in the nervous system. YES PLEASE!
Slow down. Children are the most mindful and present people we know. Watch and learn from them. It’s us that’s teaching them to go go go. It can be as easy as going for a walk with your kids and find everything that’s red. You’re focused, taking in things around you, you’re being mindful and present.
In speaking with Meriden about how the pandemic has affected her business, she notes an uptick in companies who have been reaching out for help. She also touched on the hopeful benefit that can come from this pandemic. “My hope is that companies and people continue to take this (mindfulness) seriously. This is not the last hardship. These are the resiliency skills you’ll need for the rest of your life.”
Are you or someone you know so stressed you don’t even remember what good feels like? You’re not alone and Meriden can help. Reach out on behalf of your company, your team, or as individual that wants to bring this to your own life or family. Meriden was so positive, calming, insightful and motivating! It was such a pleasure to speak to her. You’d be lucky to work with her.
Betsy Leonidas is a 15 year marketing strategist turned stationery designer & online gift shop owner, mother of 4, who is obsessed with empowering women and inspiring them to be kinder to one another. She is the ultimate girls girl who uses her platform to inspire women on any and all topics we’d chat about over a glass of wine. To learn more follow @elizaetbh_in_kind on Instagram.