“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.
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!
I was asked this week whether mindfulness was just a fad and whether it really is the answer to beating stress and creating greater contentment in life. In a word, yes, yes, yes! In itself it is a powerful tool to harness the mind and has great potential to change the nature of our daily experience. I think of mindfulness as a way of developing fresh eyes (and all the other sense organs), allowing us to connect with life as it unfolds. Mindfulness also lies at the heart of other potent mood and resilience boosting strategies like savouring and gratitude, so yes, it deserves its current popularity and place in the media spotlight.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment – what is happening in the environment around us and what is unfolding within us. It is the art of conscious living. Our ordinary waking state is one that tends to be jam packed with reactive thinking, rumination about what needs doing, flitting forwards to what might happen next and diving back into replaying what has already happened. A state without mindfulness is like being on automatic pilot where all these mental phenomena just happen to us. Rather than being lost in this sea of thought and sensation, developing mindfulness puts us back in the conscious driver’s seat. It wakes us up and gives us back control. Read more »
Today I took a gratitude walk, committing to dwelling in the moment and giving thanks for my blessings, not getting lost in rumination. I saw wide open fields reminding me of the rich potential of life and glorious blossom symbolising the rebirth of spring. I searched for butterflies, feeling my dad’s presence. I sat and listened to songbirds in a meadow, reminding me of the value of pausing to savour something lifegiving. Such a potent mood booster. Feeling low? Take some time to fill yourself back up. Let gratitude and Nature work their magic. Lots of love, Suz xx
Lose weight just by thinking about it… sounds too good to be true? Here’s some recent research that might just bring a smile to your face.
This has got to be one of my favourite studies of all time. For years I’ve been banging on about the value of ‘incidental’ exercise – all movement, not just organised exercise counts when it comes to health and fitness benefits.
That means vacuuming, active play with your kids, or getting your hands dirty in the garden can all be just as effective as a gym workout.
A recent ground breaking study takes this message one step further, showing us how to fine tune the potency of everyday movement. And it all comes down to your mind set… Read more »
Put your mind to good use and it helps you move mountains.
Let it get the better of you and you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Here are 5 ways of thinking or being that steal our own sunshine. Get to know this checklist, recognise how they manifest in your life and stop them in their tracks by using the suggested antidote.
Ways we bring ourselves down:
1. “Focusing on what you don’t have” This includes comparing yourself to those who you perceive as having ‘more than you’ (a sure fire recipe for misery) and involves taking the good things in your life for granted.
2. “Passing the buck”. The blame game, grudges, excuses and thoughts like – “I’m just wired this way”. “I was just brought up this way”. “I’m like this because this event happened or didn’t happen”. “I just don’t have time”.
3. “I’ll be happy when…” I have finished my studies… have a job… have my own house… get married… have a kid… have a house with an ocean view… when the kids have grown up… have a sports car… win the lotto…
4. “Ruminate, Replay the Trauma, Retell the Sad Story” Getting stuck in the same old track by overthinking, reliving painful events and talking about them over and over.
5. “I don’t want it to be like this”… pretending it isn’t, ignoring it, fighting the moment and wishing our life away.
Practice gratitude: Every day write down three blessings and state ‘why’ they happened.
Accept ownership and take action. Your happiness and wellbeing is your responsibility and no one else can do it for you. Be prepared to do things differently.
Learn to savour . There is joy to be found in every moment. Train your eyes to seek out moments of beauty, pleasure and excellence and learn to amplify them.
Distraction. Change the track. Think and talk about something else – something life giving! Remember, You are more than your story.
Practice mindfulness and acceptance. Get to know what lies within your boundary of control – if it is in your control, do something about it. If it lies beyond, make peace with it.
Suzy is available for counselling, coaching and private yoga sessions at her consulting room in Cammeray, Sydney, home visits, coaching via phone or skype, and ‘walk & talk’ sessions by appointment.
Contact Suzy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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