Stress occurs in us all. It’s natural for our bodies to react to any kind of threat—be it physical, mental, or emotional. We are all so busy all of the time that it is only human to feel stressed every now and then. However, stress becomes more problematic when it starts to effect your day-to-day life. This can ultimately have a very negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
“Stress has become an epidemic in today’s society, due to our pace, goals, and lack of rest and fun,” says Ericka Eller, B.S., C.H.C., nutritionist and stress management coach.
Here are my top tips for reducing the stress in your life. I try myself to follow my own advice and have personally seen a huge change in my general health wellbeing and peace of mind since starting to take control of how I deal with stress. So keep reading if you feel you need some help with this.
Relaxation techniques and meditation help so much to relive tensions and to give you that much needed time out to just breathe and concentrate completely on yourself. A few minutes in the morning and the evening is all you really need to start feeling the benefits of meditation. You can of course mediate more as and when you feel your stress levels increase.
I always start and finish all of my Pilates classes with a few minutes of relaxation and mindfulness, to help my clients wind down. Every day I use the apps Calm and Headspace on my phone. I always have my phone on me wherever I go and most of us are the same, so you can literally meditate anywhere. I have learnt lots of relaxation techniques from meditating. All of these help me to control my breathing, relax my muscles and also help me to use visualization, positive affirmations and body scanning to take control of stress.
Download one of these apps today and try meditation for yourself. You may find it a little strange at the beginning, but stick at it you will soon see the benefits. On a scale of 1 to 10, I can honestly say my stress levels are now about 1 to 2.
We all know exercise is great for your body, but do you know how great it is for you mind too? Exercise helps us to let go of our worries by relaxing and the chemical endorphins released after exercise help to give us a little high and boost our mood. Take some time out to start walking, try a new sport or why not join one of my classes. There are lots to choose from including Pilates, Tums & Bums, Aerobics and Step. You can book these here
Sometimes it can be hard to always stay positive, and you don’t need to be all of the time. The key is starting to change the way that you react to certain circumstances that put you under stress. Once your mind starts to feel stress or anger, your body automatically thinks that you are in danger. I find that the audio books The Secret and the Power by Rhonda Byrne are fantastic at explaining how you can turn the negative into positive. In other words, focus on the good of the situation instead of the bad as best you can.
If you already do a little self care here and there, be it a warm, relaxing bath or a weekend visit to the spa, good for you, keep it up! We all need some ‘me’ time. My self-care rituals include relaxing Epsom salts baths. You could also try adding a few drops of relaxing essential oils like orange, to lift your mood, or lavender for relaxation. I also regularly walk on Portrush beach and in Ballycarton forest. These are my calming places and works for me everytime! Whatever you do find something that works for you and try to make it a habit. It’s these rituals that will help to improve your wellbeing and create balance in your life.
It’s so easy to zone into our technological devices these days, especially when most of us now have social media accounts and work emails on our smartphone. But, as helpful as our phones can be, they can have a real negative effect on our stress levels. For this reason, I try to have a no tech 60. I do not look at my phone 60 mins before going to my bed. If I don’t feel tired I will put my phone in aeroplane mode and listen to a podcast. I make sure whatever I listen to is calming and the author has a soothing voice. I also use the sleep timer so that it goes off automatically after 10 minutes. Have a go at no tech 60 and see how much better you sleep is.
We are in the middle of a sleep deprivation epidemic! It is thought to cost the British economy £40bn a year. We have all experienced sleepless nights at some point. However, we still have to get out of bed and get on with our lives. A lack of sleep can make us feel irritable. It can affect out coordination, cognition, memory and stress levels. Sleep affects our mood, energy, metabolism and so much more.
Some tips I have found to help my quality of sleep is to try and keep my bedroom as dark as possible. Also, try to have a good bedtime routine and stick to the same bed time and wake up time each day. Unfortunately, when we are tired from a lack of sleep we often turn to caffeine and snacks to boost our energy. This can actually have the opposite effect and we enter a cycle of poor sleep followed by caffeine to fuel us through our day. Try instead to go outside and get a little fresh air, drink decaffeinated drinks or even better hydrate your body with lots of water and fresh fruit and veg.
Most of us find it difficult to say no, whether it is a new work assignment, meeting a friend for lunch, helping you sister with her wedding or attending a party at the in-laws. We all feel the pressure to always show up and say “yes I can” when it comes to our jobs and our friends and family. My final tip is a simple one – create some healthy boundaries. Being busy isn’t always a good thing. Slow down, manage people’s expectations, whether it is your boss or your best friend. There are polite ways of saying, I’m sorry I don’t think I can take anything else on this week. Trust me, saying ‘no’ will become one of your most important stress management tools.
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