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Are you feeling stressed?

So many of us are finding life especially stressful at the moment and the lifting of lockdown restrictions still feels a step away.

Here are my top ten tips for helping to take your mind away from the stress you’re feeling:

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don't exercise. Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing or yoga. Activities — such as walking or jogging — that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.

Using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that using scents to treat your mood can decrease anxiety and improve sleep. Some scents are especially soothing; my favourites are lavender, neroli, ylang ylang, sandalwood and rose.

3. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety. People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back. Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it's not for everyone. In general, five or fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.

One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you're stressed about is one approach, I am a great believer in writing down what you’re grateful for each day. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what's positive in your life. A lovely activity for the end of the day is to count on the fingers of one hand, 5 things that you are grateful for from your day.

5. Laugh

It's hard to feel anxious when you're laughing. It's good for your health by relieving your stress response and relieving muscle tension. In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.

A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted

One of my favourite shows is Taskmaster, guaranteed to lift my mood and relieve the tensions of the day.

Not all stressors are within your control, but some are. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say "no" more often. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on — and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels.

Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Procrastination can lead you to reacting and scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality. Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list. Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.

8. Take a Yoga Class

Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups and is a particular favourite of mine. While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal — to join your body and mind. Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.

Some studies have examined yoga's effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety. In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.

There are many online classes you can access at the moment. I would strongly recommend I am especially looking forward to their pop up yoga classes on the beach as restrictions and the weather allow. The Yogasmiths offer yoga for all abilities, led by two knowledgeable and compassionate teachers.

Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking.

A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones. Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too. Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they're often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.

Why not try one or two of these techniques today and feel the differnce that a few small changes can make?

If you would like to know more about how to manage anxiety, my six session programme “Overcoming stress and anxiety” could help. To find out more please get in touch

Tel 07858 463935


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