Stress by definition is ‘A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’ Oxford Dictionary.
Stress is a part of everyday life for most of us in the world we live in right now, with 75% of the general population experiencing at least ‘some stress’ every two weeks according to the National Health Interview Survey.
So what triggers stress? Well it is different for each individual, something that completely stresses out one person may not even effect another. The key is working out your triggers. If you know what stresses you out then you have a starting point to stress less. Interestingly, although triggers are very personal, ways of calming stress should work on some level for everyone. So why not give some or all of these a try and see what works for you?
1. GET UP EARLIER
Now just go with me on this one, it has taken me over 37 years to get it. I love sleeping in and going to bed late and have had this routine for as long as I remember. 3 alarms all on snooze was my thing. 7.30 or 8am was my get up time, giving me less than an hour to get ready. This meant I got some extra broken sleep but was then rushed to be ready in time. This also meant the kids were flustered getting themselves ready for school. We all looked like we’d been dragged through a hedge, not a good look. Pretty sure we got a few sideways glances from the parents who always look like they’ve stepped out of a salon too, how is that even possible by the way?!
Anyway, I have implemented ‘one simple change’ (it’s a Juice Plus thing) and have started getting up at 6am every morning – 5am was far too overwhelming for me – and the changes have been amazing. Simply amazing! In the extra hour and a half in the mornings I make time for myself and my self development, write blogs, read anything positive and empowering, listen to pod casts or watch videos by people who inspire me. Then after this I am fresh and awake and ready to get my girls ready for the day in a relaxed manner and we actually leave the house looking presentable now instead of looking like the hedge family. I also find that I am now sleeping much better at night in this routine and have more energy throughout the day. This in turn means my stress levels are automatically lower but when they do arise I am better equipped at dealing with them than when I was constantly rushed and tired.
I know it sounds crazy (to those who are like I was before embarking on this change) but trust me when I say getting up earlier has a profound effect so please give it a go. From one ‘I’m not a morning person’ to another, the change is phenomenal.
Yeah yeah I know, you already do breathe otherwise you wouldn’t be alive. But I mean really breathe, breathing with purpose not just to move air in and out of the lungs but to fill the lungs to the brim with air.
Breathing changes as a response to your emotions, when you are stressed your breath can become shallow, when you are scared you can breathe too fast. Both of these mean you are not getting enough oxygen into your system, but you can use your mind to change the way you breathe.Choose to breathe for health and vitality not just survival. Breathe deep into the pit of your stomach and all the way up into your shoulders, so you can get no more air in and then slowly release.
Schedule five times in your day, starting before you get out of bed in the morning, to sit and do five full deep breaths. Breathe in positivity and breathe out any negativity or stress you are feeling. Swap good for bad. Within a few days you should start to feel calmer from being consistent with your breath work.
3. GET OUTSIDE
No matter what time of the day, it doesn’t matter, get your butt outside. The fresh air and natural elements will automatically start to ground you and reduce stress. Get back to nature, sit in the park in your lunch break, go for a walk along the beach, go exploring in the bush or even just sit quietly in your garden.
Take time to clear your mind of worry whilst outside, concentrate on the nature around you, listen to the birds, waves or crickets, count the butterflies, study the flowers or trees. Focus your mind on what is around you not on what is worrying you. Then, for at least half an hour, your body will relax which in turn will calm your mind.
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realise some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that contact or as an end in itself. Wikipedia.
DO NOT be scared of meditation. As you can see from the definition you do not need to empty your mind completely. You just need to take time to sit in the quiet so you can then quiet your mind, acknowledge your thoughts, but do not hold onto them. You can literally meditate anywhere, your house the garden, in the car, a park, the beach, anywhere.
Something you can do is find guided meditations that resonate with you, The Honest Guys on YouTube are a good place to start, and do as much as you can. Even five minutes a day is good. You can also use your meditation time to set your intentions for that day. Stating one intention to be a day free from stress or the impact it has on you. Once you start with meditation in your routine you will find you can do it for longer and longer at a time.
5. LIST YOUR BLESSINGS
Sit down every day and list your blessings or what you are grateful for. Doing this will automatically lower your stress levels because you are listing and focusing on things that make you feel good. Showing gratitude has a profound effect on your life. The more you are grateful, the more the universe gives you to be grateful for.
I recommend reading The Magic by Rhonda Byrne (the same author who wrote The Secret) to really understand the immense power of gratitude. Anyway, you can make this list in any way you choose. Speak them out loud before you get out of bed in the morning or write them in a journal before you go to bed at night, it doesn’t matter as long as you take the time to do it. I suggest listing 10 blessings per day. By doing this you are focusing on the good in your life, your stress levels will therefore begin to lower and be replaced with feelings of gratitude and joy.
So there you have it, my 5 tips for helping you to stress less. I am not a Doctor, Psychologist or Stress Expert (if there is such a thing), just a person who has had experience with stress who is keen to share her coping methods with others. I hope you find some benefit from trying one or all of my tips and if you have any tips of your own, please share. How do you stress less?
Thank you for reading and have a great day.
P.S If you are really struggling with your stress and cannot seem to get a handle on it then please talk to a professional.