We’ve all experienced stress in our lives, it’s something you can’t really escape it seems. In fact in our hectic modern world we are so stressed we don’t even know it sometimes. Many of us are so used to feeling stressed or hearing others talk about how stressed they are, that we have almost come to accept stress as part of daily life. Whilst some stress is useful – for example when pre-exam stress motivates you to do that last minute cramming, too much stress is a health hazard. Countless work days are lost every year due to stress and stress-related illness. Out of the office stress impacts on our personal lives, frequently leaving us short and irritable with loved ones and preventing us from doing the things that matter to us. Many people will resort to comfort eating or even alcohol misuse to help alleviate the symptoms of stress which can also lead to numerous health problems, fatigue, weight-gain and depression – the list is endless.
We are used to being told what not to do when we are stressed – not to smoke or drink, not to bottle it up, not to over-do the sugary foods or coffee. Well let’s face it, sometimes you do what you have to do to get through a rough day, I know I do! Rather than making anyone feel any worse (and eventually more stressed) about what they are doing “wrong” here are my top-tips for reducing stress. Incorporate even one of these into your life today and not only will you start to reduce those stress-levels; you will feel more energetic and positive too.
•Take time every day to do something you love such as having a long bath or listening to uplifting music.
•Be selfish – start saying NO more often to things you don’t want to do and YES to things that please you. I’ll say it again, be selfish and put you first.
•Laugh more. Watch a funny movie, catch a comedy show, meet up with that friend who tells jokes but just find a way to laugh more, it’s called the best medicine for a reason.
•Spend more time with positive people and less time with negative people.
•Be cheerful and positive in your interactions with others and avoid draining office gossip.
•Spend time in nature. Get away for a walk in the woods or by the beach at the weekend. Nature absorbs stressful energy hence that relaxed feeling you get from spending time in it.
•De-clutter. I can’t emphasise this one enough. Untidy, cluttered homes and offices are huge contributors to stress. You may want to refer to my previous article PEST control for more on this one.
•Exercise. I know I know I’m not always a fan myself but it works it really does. Even a short walk in the fresh-air can really boost your feelings of energy and wellbeing. Start small and fit it in when you can but just do it!
•For those of you in a relationship -sexercise– need I say more?
•Take a holiday. Can you remember how relaxed you felt after your last holiday? It really is crucial to get away for a real break as and when you can.
•When moving around or completing a task, endeavour to do it slowly and mindfully. This has a very soothing effect.
•Meditate – it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Simply lighting a candle and focusing on the flame for 5 minutes can be extremely beneficial.
•Breathe deeply – the classic. When we breathe deep and exhale from the diaphragm, the entire body releases and let’s go and relaxation follows.
•Be kind to yourself. Speak well of yourself and to yourself. Use positive affirmations such as “I am a calm and loving person”.
•Make someone smile. The act of kindness toward another leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy, plus it takes your mind off your own problems – double bonus.
•Go easy on yourself. I’ve saved the best for last here. If you didn’t get it done today it can wait till tomorrow. If you got stressed today and snapped at someone, remember you are human and tomorrow is another day.
*Image courtesy of dreamstime artist, copyrighted material.*