I’ve followed Jo Howarth, from The De-Stress Show, for awhile and am always interested in her ideas for dealing with stress. I’m glad to share some of her recent tips on de-stressing with you. Thanks Jo.
Whether it is caused by pressure at work, by a specific event or by family commitments stress will affect most of us at one time or another. In this day and age we are all expected to work harder, work longer, entertain our kids and keep our houses spick and span, all at the same time.
The good news is that there are some very simple ways in which we can increase our resilience to stress. The even better news is that I am going to share some of those ways with you right now.
Tip 1: Exercise
Keeping your body fit and active is one of the key ways to fight off the physical symptoms of stress. One of the best forms of exercise is walking so why not build this activity into your weekly life? Take a walk during your lunch hour, feel the breeze on your skin, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds around you and really notice your surroundings. Not only you will go back to work refreshed and re-energised but you will be building up your immune system and burning off stress hormones at the same time.
Tip 2: Sleep
Getting the proper amount of rest 4 or 5 times a week pays dividends when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. The proper amount of rest differs for each person but the average is 8 hours sleep so if you know that you have to be up at 6am, do yourself a favour and be in tucked up in bed by 10pm. If you find it hard to drift off try a few drops of lavender oil in a warm bath first or the deep breathing exercise explained later on.
Tip 3: Be positive
The way you respond to different situations is vital when dealing with stress. So positivity can be a powerful tool. Now, some of us are naturally positive and some of us are not, but even those who are "glass half full" people may struggle to deal with stressful situations. So exercises that can help us build a positive outlook on life are great.
One of our favourites is called The Glad Exercise, it’s very simple and easy to integrate into your daily routine. At the end of every day take 5 minutes to think back across your day and find as many things as you can to be glad about or grateful for. Even if you have had the day from hell, find at least 1 thing from that day to be glad about and hold on to that feeling.
Tip 4: Share
Remember the old saying "a problem shared is a problem halved"? Never was a truer phrase spoken. One of the simplest de-stressing tools is to talk to someone you trust, let it all out and take a sigh of relief.
Tip 5: Nutrition & water
As with exercise, keeping our bodies fit & healthy helps us fight off the symptoms of stress. Make sure you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and ensure that your diet is balanced and full of vitamins B, C and E. So fresh fruit and veg, oily fish, protein, nuts and seeds are good. Caffeine, sugar, salt and alcohol are to be avoided wherever possible.
Tip 6: Manage your time
Planning is the key to being organised; and being organised will help you cope with the sheer amount of things that you need to do in a day. Take the time to write yourself a ‘to do’ list for each day and it will actually save you time. Remember not to try and cram too much into one day, work out what really needs doing today and just concentrate on those things. And one of the priorities on your ‘to do’ list is to take regular breaks – give yourself time to refresh.
Tip 7: Laugh
Take every single opportunity you can to laugh out loud. Best stress relief ever.
Tip 8: Take up a hobby
Do something just for you, even if it is just for half an hour a week. Give yourself some ‘me time’ doing something you enjoy and you will feel like a new person.
Tip 9: Don’t fret
We spend time and energy fretting about things from the past that didn’t go the way we would have liked. We spend time and energy fretting about things we need to do in the future and the many possible outcomes that could arise. Concentrate on the present, be aware of the moment and push the rest out of your brain. The past is past and only our perception of it can be changed. The future is unknown so deal with it as it unfolds.
Tip 10: Relax and breathe…
And probably most importantly of all, give yourself time to relax. When you have spent all day running around getting things done, working, looking after the kids and keeping the house together it can very often be hard to relax. If you have the time, inclination and money try one of the many complementary therapies that are around. If all you have is 5 minutes before you either get out of bed in the morning or collapse back into it at night then try a quick breathing exercise. Sit comfortably with your spine erect and feet flat on the floor. Breathe from your diaphragm so that your abdomen inflates & deflates rather than your chest. Take a long, slow, deep breath in to the count of 5. Hold the breath for the count of 2 and then exhale to the count of 5. Ideally do this 5 times but if all you have time for is once then that is a start. I often use 1 breath like this if I find myself feeling stressed in the middle of the day, it gives me a calming feeling and the time to assess the situation I am in properly.
Jo Howarth is the Managing Director of The De-Stress Show – a stress management consultancy that helps both private and corporate clients become more resilient. For more tips and information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.