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Three tips for stressful times

Today I was stressed. The interesting thing is that I didn’t realise how stressed I was until later in the afternoon when some issues were resolved and I felt this massive weight lift off my shoulders.

For someone who is usually in tune with these sorts of things, I was surprised at how out of tune I was. I also realised that this stress had been affecting me over the last few days and had been impacting my mental and physical health.

Sadly, I think there are a lot of people out there, maybe even you, who find themselves in a permanent state of stress without even realising it. This may manifest in many different ways such as tightness in the body, headaches, agitation, frustration, anger, and even constipation. Whether these things are the cause of stress, or stress is the cause of these conditions is hard to say. More often than not, they usually go hand in hand.

Dealing with stress in our lives can be difficult, especially when we feel trapped and like there is no way out of a particular situation.

So how can we deal with these stressful times more mindfully?

My first and foremost advice is to acknowledge the state of stress we are in. Awareness is everything, even if we can’t do anything about it. Simply knowing where we are is important.

Secondly, share how you are feeling with someone. Venting, letting it out, crying on someone’s shoulder. Whatever it looks like for you. Maybe you feel you can’t turn to someone else, or feel like it will be a burden if you do. I guarantee if you have a trusted friend, they won’t mind. If you still don’t feel comfortable sharing with someone else, then write it down in a notebook or a piece of paper. Putting it into words (spoken or written) is a great way to acknowledge what is going on and will help put things in perspective. Unfortunately, I did neither of these things in my situation which I now realise only made it worse – so I need to listen to my own advice on this one!

Finally, do something with your body. Moving and breathing will help release tension and stress. You may need to do something vigorous. Or perhaps you need to do something slow and focused. Whatever the case may be, try and find what it is that works for you.

Some movement suggestions include:

  • going for a walk – up a hill if you can, or with your dog if you have one

  • putting some music on and dancing

  • doing your favourite online work out or going to the gym

  • if you live near the beach, walking on the sand or swimming in the sea

  • getting on your bike and riding around the block

  • rolling out your yoga mat and doing some stretches, tuning into an online class or going to a class at your local studio

  • practicing tai chi or qi gong

If you feel you don’t have the energy to move, then start anyway and you will more than likely find that once you start moving, your energy will increase and you’ll gain momentum to keep going. If time is your problem, then ten minutes of movement is enough to help de-stress your body and mind, enabling you to release tension and relax.

To take it one step further. As you move, bring your awareness to your breath. Focus on the exhale and release the tension from your body. This is where visualisation techniques can be helpful. With each breath out, imagine chains being loosened from around your body, or weights dropping off your shoulders.

Gradually, you will relax and soon find yourself in a state of flow where your troubles feel lessened, or even momentarily forgotten. Even though the problem causing the stress may still be present in your life, I guarantee that after taking these steps you’ll be in a much better state to deal with it.

I hope these tips serve you well.

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