Coping with the Curveballs of Life – how to Stress Less

“I’m stressed!” The modern catch cry! We all know that feeling of time pressure, mental overwhelm, sleeplessness, tight jaw, adrenals in overdrive… The thing is, stress isn’t going to go away. The day where there is an absence of stress is the day we are pushing up daisies. In fact, even positive and much longed for events can also tax our minds and bodies… Getting married, scoring that promotion, falling pregnant and then hells bells, adjusting to the demands of them being on the outside! We have to get a handle on stress because its effects are cumulative, too much stress is plain dangerous for our health and it puts the kibosh on happiness.

So what’s the solution? Daily nourishment, valves that release that mounting pressure, and simple mood boosters. These things must be at our fingertips touch when we need it the most and most of all, quick! I call it my ‘self-care toolkit’ and it helps me manage my stress. Even better, it helps me be the kind of mother, partner, friend and practitioner that I aspire to be. Win win! There’s nothing selfish about that.

10 ways to stress less:

  1. Breathe – it is literally impossible to feel stressed at the same time as breathing well. We still may be aware of uncomfortable sensations, thoughts and feelings but we don’t feel stressed about them while breathing well. How do we breathe well? Simply stop, be still, and feel your breathing. Relax into the sensations of the inhalation filling you up, a tiny pause at the end of the breath in, the surrender of the exhalation and the pause at the end of your breath out. Become your breath for as long as it takes to feel more grounded.
  2. ‘Put and ring around it’ – identify what it is that’s stressing you and put a ring around it. It’s not everything, it is just this one defined thing. And if there are multiple stressors that does genuinely make you feel like it’s everything, put a ring around this time. It won’t be like this forever. This ‘chunking down’ tool helps you get a better handle on life’s challenges.
  3. Are you ‘hangry’? Quite often when we’re feeling headless, it’s because we haven’t fed ourselves appropriately. Have some life-giving snacks at your fingertips because we’re not just feeding our body, we’re also nourishing our mood and mental clarity. Make sure you are well hydrated too.
  4. Move – this is not just about exercise, this is plain movement. If you’re feeling stuck, low or scattered, move your body. It is a natural antidepressant and research shows it boosts creativity so you will be more resourceful in your approach to problem solving. Nothing fancy or elaborate is needed, just a quick walk around the block can do the trick.
  5. Reach out – take some time to think about who is on your ‘team’. Who are the people you turn to when you need a kind ear, a sounding board, a cheerleader, someone to yoga with, coffee mate, movie buddy, for your body MOT (my physio and hairdresser are definitely on my team). Write down the names of these people and know that there are different times when they each come to the fore. When you’re feeling wobbly, take a peek at your list and reach out to the appropriate person. Social connection feeds the soul so make sure you are investing in these relationships.
  6. Scent – don’t underestimate the power of scent. It is so quick and effortless. Spritz your favourite fragrance or light a scented candle and stand tall. Take a few deep breaths and relish that moment. For added potency you can pair scent with affirmations too – use a phrase that channels how you want to feel.
  7. “I have all the time I need”…. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Even if you don’t believe it! This mantra will help you relax and feel a greater sense of spaciousness in your day. It might even help you refine your priorities.
  8. Mood boosting music – identify your happy tracks and press play when you need a boost. A dose of classical can be medicinal if soothing is what you need.
  9. Nature’s beauty – drink it in and let it blow away the cobwebs. Nature is another potent antidepressant and helps us connect with what matters most in life. If you can’t get out in it, seek it out from where you are. Maybe it’s the moving cloudscape during your commute or a vase of cut flowers on your desk at work. Be open to the therapeutic power of Nature and self-care becomes so simple and accessible.
  10. What’s your WHY – so often stress leaves us feeling a bit discombobulated. Remind yourself of the purpose behind your actions and this galvanises us when the tough gets going.

So, self-care needn’t be elaborate, take much time, energy or expense. Turn to these strategies when you’re feeling under the pump and feel the tension dissipate. Better still, engage in them regularly and you’ll have stress rolling off your shoulders before it raises your blood pressure.

These are just a selection of self-care activities. Book in for your complimentary 15 min phone call about how we can create your own bespoke self-care toolkit. It’s time to reclaim your vitality!

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Rest and Refresh Tip #2: A guided meditation for you

For many years I’ve been asked about recording some of my guided meditations and relaxations. As part of week 5: Rest and Refresh, I have made one available for you.

It’s time to refresh! Take a few minutes out now to drop your day from your shoulders. You can even pop in some headphones and do it at your desk. It will be 2 minutes well spent. Find it by clicking here: Suzy Reading’s Guide to Breathing


For more suggestions on how to replenish your mind and body, drop me a line on

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When should you practise yoga?

When you’re feeling STRESSED – try child’s pose

When you’re feeling SAD – try a handstand

When you’re feeling TIRED – try legs up the wall pose

When you’re feeling STUCK – try a twist

When you need a BOOST – try a gentle back bend

When you need to LET GO – lengthen your exhale

When you need to SLOW DOWN YOUR THOUGHTS – earth your brow… Read more »

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What’s in your self-soothing toolkit?

I had an experience this week that totally knocked me off my centre and it served to remind me of just how important it is to have a toolkit of things that can help soothe and calm us.

While I have been writing recently a great deal about happiness strategies I think it is important to acknowledge that I am not saying that we should expect to find ourselves in a state of happiness all the time. There will be moments in our day, sometimes long stretches of time, where we are challenged by life and it is essential that we give ourselves permission to have what I call a ‘normal human reaction’ to life.

At times we will feel sad, angry, frustrated, lost, confused, anxious and all the other emotions that form the full gamut of expressions and this is ok. It is important to be real, to give ourselves time to feel and respond to what happens in our lives. While it is ok to have these feelings, we also need some strategies to help us soothe ourselves, to reconnect with our calm-abiding centre.

I’d like to share mine with you and hope that this might motivate you to articulate yours. If you are in a happy place right now then there is no better time to brainstorm because a positive mood enhances your creativity.

If you are not in a great place at the moment then it might help to sit down with a friend or have a session with a coach to help open your eyes to the calming and uplifting things that are available to you. Read more »

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How to Design your Self-Care Ritual

Take a good look at the 12 strategies from Part One (gratitude, optimism, avoiding overthinking, practicing kindness, nurturing relationships, coping, forgiveness, flow, savouring, committing to goals, spirituality, caring for body and soul) and decide which ones resonate most with you – consider your personality, your strengths, your interests, your available resources.

Identify the top three that inspire you and find ways to practice those skills. Look for ways you can do more of it in your current schedule, prioritise it, actually structure it into DAILY life by making an appointment with yourself if necessary, set goals about it, get coaching to develop it, fully commit to it.

For guidance on effective goal setting techniques see my article entitled: “It’s time to review your New Year’s Resolutions: are you serving them and are they serving you?” found at Read more »

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