Do you find yourself telling people that you’re ‘crazy busy’, ‘always up against it’, or ‘surviving on four hours sleep a night’? Some people thrive on this way of living, however for many of us it just causes our stress levels to rise.
Research shows that chronic, sustained stress can cause long-term physical and mental problems, including depression, heart disease and weight gain.1 Symptoms such as insomnia, muscle aches, a short temper, frequent colds and anxiety may indicate that stress is beginning to overwhelm you.
So, what can we do to reset and de-stress? Here are some tips to help you on your way:
Confide in someone
A problem shared is often a problem halved, so just confiding in and talking to a friend or family member about any stresses or concerns you’re having, can make a difference. Alternatively, talking with a trained professional can also help you learn to deal with stress and become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings.2
Try to do nothing
Just as our bodies need rest, our brains need a moment of doing nothing to rejuvenate themselves. However, with modern life being so busy this is easier said than done, so set a goal to sit alone for five minutes a day and start to build this time up. Meditation is a great way to rest our mind and body whilst reducing stress and blood pressure.3 Read our blog on why getting enough rest and relaxation is good for both mind and body for more details.
Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on your smartphone by setting some rules, such as no checking the phone at dinner or no emails for an entire weekend. If that’s too much, start with just 20 minutes at a time and build up from there. Encourage friends and family to do the same and that way you can keep each other in check.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels, stimulating the production of endorphins; chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.4
For a low impact but stress-busting workout, why not try yoga as this can help reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body.5 Alternatively, you could go out for a brisk walk – it’s free and doesn’t require much thought or preparation.
Focus on your breathing
Rapid, shallow breathing is a common response to stress, so slow, deep, regular breathing can really help to de-stress.
Set your stopwatch or sit in front of a clock and just breathe for one minute with the aim of focussing entirely on your breathing for the whole minute. This technique can help to calm your mind.
Cut back on caffeine
When you’ve a lot to do, you might think having a caffeine boost will help you tackle your task list head on. However, it can actually create added stress and anxiety – caffeine is a stimulant and releases adrenaline in your body, essentially putting your body into a ‘fight or flight mode’.6 Reducing your caffeine intake could help you feel less stressed and anxious.6
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