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Practicing Beauty For Stress Relief

Is it really March already? We’ve made it through another month of living with uncertainty and constant new developments. Kudos to us!

It’s been hard, though. I hear you. We have all been doing our best under the circumstances but with so many uncontrollable pieces, the stress is compounded. We’ve all been looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel just seems to grow longer and longer.

Today I want to offer a little soul care for those who are feeling soul weary. A proven method to relieve pent-up stress. Most of us are longing for a bit of space from the happenings of the past two years; we all need some breathing room. Remember the feeling you’d get when you go on vacation? When you’d put your feet up on a lounge chair and let out a nice relaxing exhale? The very thought of it feels good for the moment, doesn’t it?

What if I told you that modern brain science shows that we can actually achieve those same benefits of relaxation and breathing room from gazing on some form of beauty? Vacations are brief (yes, and wonderful) but “practicing beauty,” as Dr. Curt Thompson calls it in his best-selling book “The Soul of Desire”, can be experienced anytime.

Dr. Thompson suggests that as we gaze on something of beauty, be it a walk in the park, sitting by the ocean, looking at a painting, reading, prayer, anything that brings pleasure to our soul; immersing ourselves with the full enjoyment of it, our stress hormones go down and our feel-good hormones are released.

It’s such a simple practice but when under stress, many times pleasure is the last thing on our minds. Soul care or self-care can be seen as frivolous or unproductive. This is where we have to shift our thinking. If we want to be able to still feel calm and regulated in our emotions and our body, especially when the situation remains stressful, we need to develop some helpful practices for breathing room. A space for that exhale.

I’ve noticed that gazing at some beautiful artwork on the internet, enjoying the colors, engaging my imagination and doing some relaxing breathing has definitely helped me feel grounded at times.

What beauty will you gaze on? I’d love to hear your experience.

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