I talk a lot about Stress and Anxiety in my blogs and in my work. Lets face it, we all know about it, we could all do with less of it. A question I’m often asked is “how can we reduce stress and anxiety in our everyday lives?” It’s the main area of my business!
Let me repeat that for you …. Stress and Anxiety is the main area of my business. Really!
I help people reduce stress and anxiety in their lives every day. So if you are sat reading this after having spent the day worrying about you can cope with x,y and z and wondering how come others seem to manage it. Think again. Others are just like you. Others seem to be holding it all together, yet inside it might be very different story. You don’t have to be superwoman (or man) all the time.
No-one measures stress in the home, yet in the workplace the Health and Safety Executive says that 35% of all work related complaints are because of Stress. Many big companies have a stress test for their employees to complete regularly to try and catch people before they buckle under pressure and go off sick. I’ve written previously about how fighting stress can affect your health. Whether you work in a big company or not, what do you think your stress test would show? What could you do about it anyway?
Here are my top 7 ways to help reduce stress
1. Assess Yourself
Complete your own version of a stress test. What stresses one person can invigorate another, so assess yourself. Learn about yourself just by giving yourself a little time to reflect on your day. See what you did well and what was difficult or time consuming for you. Learn what “pushes your buttons” and what lights you up. Learn what is easy and what is difficult. When you begin to see that about yourself you might be able to make adjustments to your life or plan things differently.
2. Praise Yourself
When you’ve found the things you do well from your assessment, give yourself some praise. We are great at dwelling on the difficult stuff or what went wrong. When you’ve done something well, or received praise or a positive message or just a “well done” stop for just a second or two and reflect on that. Let the positivity sink in. Give yourself a pat on the back. It can give you a burst of confidence and then you can keep building that confidence and positivity.
3. Stop Dismissing Things
Do you dismiss things? Saying “it’s fine” when it’s not. Making excuses if someone gives you a complement. Usually we do this because it’s uncomfortable. That’s OK – as long as you recognise it. With a little practice and it will get easier to just say “thank you” after compliment, praise or comment. Try it.
4. Create a Worry Spot
Find a chair or space in your house that you can sit in for about 10 minutes a day and give time and space to your worries. Make sure this is a space you don’t normally use, a spare chair or even half way up the stairs! Use this worry spot to let the thoughts, worries, stressors go round in your head. Allow them to be there. Often given them time and space to just ramble around can make them seem clearer or less of a concern. If some of them aren’t sorted in 10 minutes, then that’s ok. Just tell them you’ll come back to them the next day.
5. Breathe Deeply
Oh I know! I’m sorry (kind of) that I keep going on about this. It’s so helpful. Breathing deeply helps to calm the stressy feelings. Make sure you can feel your chest rise and stomach rise and put your hands there too for a little while. This ensures you are breathing deeply enough to release feel good chemicals.
6. Eat Healthy
As if you didn’t have enough to worry about! Seriously, we all know what is good for us and what is not. Stressy feelings often have us crave poor quality foods. (What I refer to as carbs and cr@p!) It creates a vicious circle that they only provide a quick fix and then we feel tired and sluggish again. There’s a lot of information that says the gut and brain are connected. So, imagine you are nourishing your body from the inside. A banana is great and there’s some research that says it’s great for stress and blood pressure. Find some go-to foods that you can still grab and go and are better for you.
7. Go for a Walk
It doesn’t matter if the walk is along a busy road, in a park or in the country. The movement, exercise and change of scenery is great for reducing stress. Pay attention to your surroundings, notice your feet on the ground, the rhythm of your steps – all these distract your mind from the stress. 10 minutes would do.
There doesn’t have to be some magical cure to make the stress disappear in puff of smoke! These just need to be things you can incorporate into your daily life, quickly, easily but really effectively.