STRESS MANAGEMENT ACROSS THE GLOBE
Laughter yoga, singing bowls or the philosophy of life
Find your own way of managing stress
Different cultures approach wellness in different ways, and much can be learned from each tradition and ritual practiced from one side of the world to the other. Every culture has different traditions and rituals for achieving awareness, for prayer, personal growth, happiness, and well-being. For a more in-depth stress management approach, take time for yourself and try something new that will help you be more present and find more joy in your life. Every country has its unique ways of managing stress and finding the right mind-body balance. Some of the more famous are the Baños de Cajon in Ecuador – steam baths in wooden sauna boxes; holy water ceremonies in Bali bathhouses; thermal springs in Hungary; Thai massage in Thailand; floating in the Dead Sea in Israel; mud swimming and Hulu dancing in Hawaii. From the ancient Egyptian ritual of cupping to the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, try one of these 12 methods inspired by different cultures, yet applicable to everyday life, wherever you may be.
1) India: Laughter yoga
The practice of laughter yoga originates from a 1995 article by Dr. Madan Kataria titled ‘’Laughter – The Best Medicine’’, which discussed the health benefits of laughter. He created a practice that combines breathing exercises with forced laughter. Laughter reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, helps fight depression and anxiety, and stimulates feelings of happiness. The technique involves finding reasons to laugh in everyday life. For starters, force yourself until laughter becomes an integral part of your every day.
2) Japan #1: Shinrin Yoku
Shinrin Yoku or "forest bathing" is a preventative health method based on the belief that being in the forest has many health benefits. Time spent in nature is said to encourage clearer intuition, increase energy flow, deepen friendships, and can lead to a generally higher level of happiness. How to exercise: get out into the nature!
3) Egypt: Cupping therapy
A healing practice used by the ancient Egyptians, cupping is the practice of extracting toxins from the body. The cups used many years ago were made from animal horns. Today, glass cups are used. It is also a method used in traditional Chinese medicine. A cup is placed on the patient on the diseased area and heat is applied. The cup acts as a vacuum as blood is drawn into the skin. It is used, among other things, to treat blood disorders, migraines, skin problems and various pains. How to exercise: Try to find a reliable practitioner near you. You could start by looking for acupuncturists because cupping is often part of traditional Chinese medicine.
4) China: Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese acupuncture treatment involves inserting needles into the body to balance energy. Chinese medicine practitioners use needles in specific places along certain meridians to balance the flow of life energy known as Chi (Qi) flowing through the body. Many believe that acupuncture can help treat headaches, back pain, neck pain, allergies, insomnia, infertility, high blood pressure and more. How to exercise: Find a licensed acupuncturist near you.
5) Russia: Banya or Sauna
Banya is a small wooden room heated by firewood, also known as a Russian sauna or steam bath. Banyas have historically been a place to socialize – to gather people and talk, and make important decisions. In traditional Russian baths, you will still find certain rituals that will contribute to a more authentic experience. When you enter a sauna or bath do not heat up only once; leave the room and come back several times. Banya is also a place where you can go with friends for a weekend of relaxation. Primarily the sauna has a number of health benefits – it helps cleanse the skin, detoxify the body and strengthen the immune system. It is necessary to open the mind to new experiences.
6) Norway: Friluftsliv
In Norwegian, friluftsliv translates as "outdoor life". The phrase refers to the relationship with nature. This suggests that exploring and appreciating nature will make us happier. Of course, it is understood that you respect your environment and do not leave waste behind.
7) Japan #2: Inemuri or Power Naps
In Japan, people have adopted the practice of closing their eyes to rest for a moment – anywhere and anytime – from subway stations to cafés. Inemuri is not a complete state of sleep, but something like daydreaming. In Japan, this practice is highly respected because it implies that a person works very hard, and a strong work ethic is an indispensable part of Japanese culture. Practice Inemuri when you feel tired during the week, try to take a moment and close your eyes. Allow yourself moments of peace during the day. If you fall asleep easily, you may want to set an alarm just in case.
8) Iceland: Natural Hot Springs
Iceland is known as the “land of fire and ice” because of its unique glacier structure and volcanic activity. Geothermal energy heats water areas creating natural hot springs. Hot springs are believed to slow aging, reduce pain and skin diseases, and increase endorphins and blood circulation. Find a natural spring in your area. If you are not close to a natural spring, try a warm bath with natural bath salts.
9) South America: Mate Tea
Originally from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, yerba mate is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It is commonly used as a coffee substitute because it contains caffeine and is an integral part of social life; when you offer a sip, that person becomes part of your social circle. It is drunk from special vessels (gourdes) that are of animal or plant origin. Yerba mate is rich in antioxidants, boosts energy, improves body performance and strengthens the immune system. Try replacing your morning coffee with yerba tea and see if sure you notice an increase in energy throughout the day. Yerba mate will also give you the necessary stimulant effect without tremors or palpitations.
10) Tibet: Singing bowls
Tibetan singing bowls are a part of sound therapy within the system of instruments of vibration medicine. They are believed to return the body and organs to their original frequency of health. They are also specific in that they create a vibrating sound of harmony at the frequency "om" that acts on the nervous system to induce relaxation, slow down bodily activities such as breathing, brain and heart function, while relieving pain. Bowls show success in many areas. The first effect that is felt is an exceptional relief of the entire mental state, as they break down stress, deeply relax and relieve headaches and insomnia. Their effect on the deep structures of the body is infamous, which is why they relieve pain. Bowls are also effective in cleaning the space. Children respond extremely well to them.
11) Sweden: Fika
Fika is a concept of living, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. Fika is often translated as “coffee and cake break”, but Swedish coffee breaks tell more about the state of mind than about coffee and cake. For Swedes, Fika is a time to slow down, a time for dear people to share a snack or drink with. You can’t practice Fika on your own – it’s a ritual with friends to connect and socialize. Bake cookies, put a pot of coffee or tea on and invite friends to Fika.
12) Nigeria: Ubuntu
Ubuntu is also a way of life, a philosophy of living. The word "ubuntu" literally translates as "I am because we are’". Ubuntu is a gesture of gratitude to others and the concept that we are all part of the same family. This sense of community is manifested as kindness, care and compassion for others. At its core, ubuntu emphasizes the qualities of sharing, honesty, hospitality, caring and a sense of fairness within the community. Exercise generosity and kindness. Let your goal be to focus on caring interaction with others, supporting those in your life who need you and allowing yourself to be supported.
Stress management doesn’t have to be just practicing yoga and meditation (although those are great methods). There are many ways to find balance and joy in your life, and finding inspiration in other cultures in that quest is a fun and interesting way to explore the world of wellness.