We all lead busy lives and often feeling stressed is one of the constants we all deal with as part of our everyday routines. The key thing is though to recognise when you are feeling stressed and then you can take steps to take it in hand and stop this feeling from escalating out of control into something much worse and more permanent.
Stress will wear you down. Over time people with elevated levels of stress find that their immune systems get depleted, their sleep patterns get interrupted, and all too quickly they can start on the slippery slope towards a lack of decent quality sleep leading to poor health.
If you’re feeling stressed in any aspect of your life download our guide 70 Top Tips to creating more Work/Life Balance and follow some of our tips and you might find that some of your stress just starts to dissolve and disappear.
Here are nine of the easiest ways we recommend you try when you are feeling stressed:
It sounds too simple, but once our emotions are triggered then things can start escalating out of control one of the best ways to stop these feelings in their tracks is to breathe.
This can be as easy as taking an extra deep breath and counting to ten. Do this over a five-minute period and you will soon find that you feel calmer, more composed and your feelings of stress start to disappear. The reasons for your stress may not have changed but your mind will be calmer, and you should be able to re-phase and re-focus on whatever might be going on.
If you wish to explore this idea further, you can also take time out to develop a practice of Ujjayi breath. This is well known amongst anyone who practices yoga and is an excellent way to wind down and refocus on your breathing. You can find out how to develop Ujjayi breath by watching this short video by yoga teacher Adriene during which she guides viewers through the Ujjayi breathing technique.
You can build on your breathing exercises by starting meditation as even five minutes of meditation a day can have a dramatic impact on stress levels.
Various medical studies have found that mindfulness meditation can have a major impact on reducing the inflammation response caused by stress. Studies have also found that regular meditation practice can improve stress-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel disorder even fibromyalgia.
Research has shown that regular meditation can reduce levels of anxiety, lengthens attention span, promotes self-awareness, and enhances and develops a greater sense of self-awareness.
Take a Walk
Fresh air and a change of scene can be a fantastic way to re-set and change your frame of mind. Exercise is a great stress reliever and taking a short walk can be an excellent way to help roll back stress levels and re-set your mind so you can deal with the rest of your day.
This is certainly one of my favourite ways to relieve stress. Even when I do not really want to get on my mat, I almost force myself to do it because I know I will feel so much better afterward. Building a regular yoga practice requires dedication, but it is about building a new habit in your life.
A one-off yoga session could be a great introduction to the benefits of yoga but a longer-term commitment when you build it into your daily or weekly schedule can have significant physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. These days it is easy to find a local yoga class, or online download an app, or find your yoga guru on YouTube.
Get a Hug
If you are feeling stressed do not be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug. When we hug each other, a hormone called oxytocin is released (also known as the cuddle hormone). Oxytocin causes reduced blood pressure and can produce a sense of relaxation. Physical touch can be a great reliever of stress. It also works both ways, so if you see someone close looking stressed try giving them a big hug and feel their stress levels dissolve.
Develop a Journaling Habit
The positive effects of journaling cannot in my view be under-estimated. I follow the bullet journaling technique to help me plan my days, weeks, and months. I also have various pages for brain dumps and ideas, making plans, getting organised, listing films to see and books to read, and blank pages when I can just offload on those days when all the other methods, I use to manage stress are not working too well.
I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager and then in my twenties, a dear friend recommended The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and since then I’ve used journaling to offload, create and generally try to find myself. These days Julia Cameron shares her techniques and approach in lots of diverse ways including video courses aimed at encouraging anyone to find their inner artist.
One of the important pages in my journal is my gratitude page. You can start to write three things you are grateful for each day and over time these build up to an extensive list of all the wonderful things that are in your life. Gratitude centers us all and they are wonderful when you are feeling blue as they help re-phrase the voice in your head that could be dragging you down.
Eat a Balanced Healthy Diet
A well-balanced diet is such an important core of a happy healthy well-balanced life. Eating too many refined carbohydrates such as biscuits and crisps can cause a spike in blood sugar. When blood sugar crashes this can lead to increased stress and anxiety.
Consuming a healthy diet with fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, and proteins such as eggs and fish can start to combat stress over the long term. There are loads of advice online with exciting and affordable recipes that you can start to follow. Batch cooking in advance and getting organised with a menu plan can make healthy eating achievable, so stop making excuses and start to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Develop Good Sleep Habits
The benefits of developing good sleep hygiene cannot be underestimated. We should all be spending about a third of our time sleeping and it is important that we get some good quality sleep that leaves us feeling rested and ready for the next day.
If you are struggling to sleep, this will impact every other aspect of your day. You will feel tired, with low energy and you will not be performing to your best. Get into good habits around bedtime so you can start to wind down, relax, and enjoy decent quality sleep.
If you‘re feeling stressed then we’re here to help with our free downloadable guide covering ways to manage stress and create more work/life balance or you can learn more about stress by signing up for our accredited Stress Awareness course.
Read more about how to create more balance in your life in our blog post About Finding Balance in Your Life at Aim Higher Training.