People handle stress in different ways; some seem to sail through feelings of anxiety, whereas others wear their hearts on their sleeves. Either way, the NHS says it’s important to identify the cause of the stress in order to help you deal with it effectively.
Whilst stress is perfectly normal, if it’s not dealt with, it can lead to health concerns such as anxiety disorders and depression. But when someone says “just relax”, it can be easier said than done, so we’ve put together five tips to help you de-stress.
Mindfulness is a Buddhist philosophy which has three main purposes – knowing the mind, training the mind and freeing the mind. Mindfulness is traditionally practised in the form of meditation; but you don’t need to be sitting cross legged on a mat to be mindful. In actual fact, the whole notion of mindfulness is that it should be practised anywhere and everywhere, from commuting to work to getting ready for bed at night.
To start you off, the NHS recommends picking a time of day that you plan to focus on being mindful – so perhaps next time you have a lunch break, immerse yourself in the taste of the food, the sounds around you and the weight of your body in the chair. Within a few minutes you might feel more relaxed! Read our blog on mindfulness in the workplace to find out how it can aid productivity at work.
If you’re feeling anxious, going for a jog might be the last thing you want to do. However, if you have a problem that is causing you stress, it could be that you just need to be in the right state of mind to be able to find a solution, and exercise can help you feel mentally robust enough to do that.1 Whilst exercise won’t make your stress disappear, it might reduce the emotional intensity you’re feeling, meaning you might be able to handle your problems more effectively.
Be in nature
Whilst walking in general can help you clear your mind and reduce stress hormones, where you choose to walk can also have an impact on your stress levels. Consider walking in a park or in the countryside as this can actually put your mind in a state of meditation thanks to a phenomenon known as ‘involuntary attention’. Scientists at Heriot-Watt University released a study which showed that when they conducted mobile brain electrical activity testing on volunteers, they found that the brain enters a meditative state when going through green spaces.
If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you’ll be familiar with pranayama breathing, which medical researchers agree can make you feel more relaxed. Even just taking a few deep breaths can help reduce tension and relieve stress as it allows an extra boost of oxygen to enter the body. You could also try yoga and tai chi, as these combine deep breathing techniques, mindfulness and exercise – a winning combination for helping you to de-stress!
Switch off technology
Scientific research shows that the use of modern technology such as smartphones and tablets has been linked to increased stress levels. In 2015, the University of Surrey carried out a study which analysed the consequences of having constant access to work. The authors concluded that the use of mobile phones and laptops increasingly ‘blurred’ the boundaries between work and home life, often causing work-family conflict. So, whenever you can, put down your mobile phone and enjoy some peace and quiet!
In times of high stress, above all else, remember to think about yourself. Keep yourself healthy by exercising and eating well and this can help get you back onto the road to a happier and more balanced you.
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