Stress and anxiety are very common and I’m sure you have experienced either or both at some point of your life. Anxiety is that feeling of dread, feeling that something bad will happen. Whereas stress is a physical response to danger and threat. For many of us stress and anxiety affect us on a daily basis and it is estimated that 50 to 75% of visits to the doctors are related to stress or emotional upset.
When we are stressed our bodies respond by releasing hormones such as cortisol as part of the fight or flight mechanism. The over production of these hormones when chronically stressed can take a physical and psychological toll on our health by manifesting in our bodies in various ways. Asthma, insomnia, high blood pressure, IBS, chronic pain and fibromyalgia are all examples of health conditions that may be related to long-term stress, which is why it is so important to take control and find solutions to manage our stress levels!
I used to get stressed and anxious very easily so I’ve put together 15 points which many have and still do help me let go, relax and unwind!
Write things down It can become a repetitive and destructive habit allowing problems and things that we need to do roll over and over in our mind. It sounds so simple but making ‘to do lists’, writing a diary or just writing how we feel really helps to offload things and take them off the mind.
Meditation/Mindfulness Both can be really effective with bringing inner peace, by calming the mind and changing thought patterns. Don’t be surprised when you try for the first time, your mind wonders and you think about what you’re going to eat for dinner later. Meditation and mindfulness takes practice but when you get the hang of it, it should really help.
Be social Sometimes all we need is a good laugh with the people we love, make the effort and catch up with that friend you haven’t seen in ages. If you need to make friends there is a website called www.meetup.com with lots of groups you can join, which may bring opportunities to make new friends!
Dancing, Music and Singing are great tools to relieve stress, anxiety and tension and there are several studies that have been carried out to suggest so! Sing on your own in the shower, join a choir, listen to music, make music, go to a concert, play ‘just dance’ on the wii with friends, whatever you like, it helps!
Complementary Health Therapies Part of the reason I decided to train as a reflexologist is because it really helped me when I was going through a stressful time. The technique of reflexology is gentle pressure applied to reflexes on the feet, hands or face, with the aim of bringing about a state of deep relaxation and also stimulating the body’s healing process. Check out my webpage for more information www.yolandareflexology.com
Food It’s important to ditch certain foods as they can impact negatively on us by increasing feelings of anxiety and stress. Caffeine, alcohol and processed foods high in saturated fat, salt and refined sugar do us no good. I will write up another post on the subject of food, in the near future.
Bach Flower Remedies consist of a diluted solution of flower extracts that work to promote emotional healing. Altogether there are 38 different remedies that are said to rectify various negative emotional states. Rescue remedy (available in Boots and most health shops) is great when experiencing an onset of shock, anxiety or panic.
A good nights sleep is essential especially when stressed or anxious, as it helps to deal with things a lot more easily. However many people when stressed can experience insomnia and find it difficult to shut off. Creating a sleep routine such as no technology an hour before bed, having a warm bath, using essential oils such as lavender or frankincense and drinking a cup of herbal tea containing ingredients such as lemon balm, camomile, passion flower, lavender or valerian can really help you wind down.
Exercise has so many benefits and is especially beneficial when stressed or anxious. During stressful times as well as cortisol, adrenaline rises and excess glucose pours from the liver. Exercising, going for a run or brisk walk helps to use up excess adrenaline and glucose levels, plus lowers stress levels. It is great for overall health and wellbeing and also stimulates the release of endorphins.
Yoga and Pilates are both great for releasing stress, calming the mind, relaxation, grounding and gaining a sense of balance. When going to classes I felt helped me to control my breathing, quiet my mind and actually relax, however I have found it hard to keep up the motivation and find time to go to classes but have been lucky enough to meet an excellent yoga teacher, who gives private classes in the comfort of your own home! Check her out www.merakifitness.co.uk
Eradicate the main cause of stress yes I know, easier said than done but ask yourself what is the main cause of stress in your life? Is it a bad relationship, being around the wrong crowd, stuck in a horrible job, your own disruptive behaviour….? Whatever it is, if you can try to find steps to find an alternative route and let go.
Professional help If things are getting on top and seem to be never ending, seek support by going to your GP or other healthcare professional. Counselling, Cognitive behavioural therapy and Talking therapy can be very effective. Hypnotherapy can also help tackle the cause of stress or anxiety and work with different techniques to help you feel a lot calmer and relaxed.
Self Care is so important and something a lot of us do not give ourselves enough of. Feelings of guilt often arise of putting ourselves first but just remember that there has to be an equal balance of things going out and coming in. I was once told that you can not pour from an empty cup and how true is that! Do something that makes you feel good, it doesn’t have to cost money, can be a walk in the park (there are so many beautiful green spaces in London), a trip to the cinema, a pamper day, buying yourself something nice or if you have the time and money to do so a holiday or even a day away somewhere nice !!!
The media Our brains process so much information daily through sources such as the TV, radio, internet (social media) and newspapers. A lot of the information that we process is frightening, negative and problematic. I recently went abroad to Cuba where the only access to internet was to buy a wifi card in limited places. Therefore I barely touched my phone and did not access any social media, I had no idea what was going on around the world for the duration that I was there and it felt good! Why not try one day of not going on social media or checking out the news.
Reading is a great tool for relaxation! I used to love reading however in the last few years have not had the time to pick up a book and read for pleasure, this is something I’m currently working on! Self help and motivational books can really be inspiring and helpful, I will post a list of books that I have found effective soon!