“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:
- 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.
- ‘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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.