April may well be Stress Awareness Month and I would like to suggest that it could easily be a month of action too.
Noticing stress is a good start, doing something about it is even better.
Here are my top 12 tips:
Try to address what’s causing the stress.
Whilst the below tips are great for managing the symptoms of stress, if you can actually do something about the cause then do. Is there a conversation you need to have with someone? Do you need help or advice with something? Is there a decision you need to make? Do you need to get control of an area of your life that has gone pear shaped? Empower yourself to be part of the solution, and for those things that are seemingly out of your control remember you always have a choice of how to respond.
Eat away your stress
Diet plays a huge role in managing stress. I know we all know this but seriously I can’t stress enough (no pun intended) how big a difference this can make. Cutting down on caffeine, sugar and alcohol will reduce stress levels. I know that a cake or bottle of wine can seem like the answer (and for a brief while actually feels it) but in the long run it will add to your stress not reduce it. Everything in moderation. Try to eat nutritious meals that help to maintain blood sugar levels, aid sleep, and calm the over thinking mind not to mention keep your body and immune system vibrant and healthy.
Exercise it out of your system in Mother Nature
Yep, get moving. Get those stress hormones out of your system and replace them with feel good ones that inspire solutions and confidence. Even better, get moving outside. Being in nature does wonders for us on every level. I am not saying you have to go and hug a tree but at least get out there with them.
Breathe away your worries
Breath awareness practices switch on the relaxation response triggering the rest and digest part of your nervous system and switching off your fight or flight response. Try taking several deep, steady breaths every time you feel stressed. To make even more difference try doing a breath awareness practice for 10 minutes daily. You will literally breathe your worries away.
One moment at a time
There are so many advantages of practicing mindfulness. To name but a few…. being more fully present in the moment you are in will help you to enjoy the many simple joyful moments that occur throughout every day. When you pay attention you will notice that the ‘bad day’ you thought you had may well have just been a ‘bad 10 minute conversation’ that you carried with you all day. It will help you to keep a more positive outlook and stay in tune with how you are feeling and what you could do about it. However overwhelming life might feel it really only does happen one moment at a time.
One of my personal favourites. Learning to meditate is proven to have so many health benefits, stress reduction being one of them. It is my own personal direct route to Zen like bliss and inspiration.
Finally we are acknowledging that it might not be so cool to think we thrive on only a few hours of sleep a night. I can not recommend reading Shawn Stevenson’s book ‘Sleep Smarter’ highly enough. It is an inspiring read packed with great advice on sleep and so much more. Let it be your bedtime reading then 😉
To yourself and to others. Even the thought of kindness has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
For instant stress reduction think of 5 things you are grateful for today. For continuous stress reduction repeat this exercise daily.
Talk it through
A problem halved and all that. That’s what people are for, whether it be friends, family, a work colleague, your GP, or sometimes a complete stranger. We are all here to help each other.
Take a break
Getting away from it all can be such a tonic. It doesn’t have to be a long far away trip to a remote island. A day at the seaside, a park, or beautiful garden will all work miracles….so long as you don’t spend it on your phone. Which leads me to my last top tip…
Yep, unplug from your phone, your social media, your playstation, your emails. Basically….unplug from all devices. Try an hour to start with, then a day, a weekend, an entire holiday. Go on! I dare you to try it! Be where you are, with who you are with, and what you are doing. 😉