We have busy lives. It’s no surprise that life can get a bit too much for some of us.
It’s easy for the pressure life puts on us to turn to Stress but we must make sure we deal with this in a healthy way.
Stress can be caused by a number of factors. Work, family, relationship, and financial problems are all common triggers. It’s important that we learn to deal with our problems while reducing our stress as it can be very serious when stress gets out of control.
Stress can affect us in many ways. It can make us feel overwhelmed, irritable, and scared. It can also change the way we feel about ourselves causing poor self esteem and low mood.
Stress may cause us to worry constantly, cause poor concentration, and decision making problems. It may cause sleep issues which can lead to fatigue and an inability to cope throughout the day.
Stress can also affect us physically, causing headaches, nausea and dizziness. This can lead to poor appetite. Muscle tension and pain may also be experienced.
A little stress from time to time is a normal part of life, but when things get too much it is very important to Reduce Stress as much as possible. Here are 15 simple steps to help you deal with stress management and calm your mind.
When you start to feel stressed take 5 minutes and breathe deeply. Really concentrate on your breathing. This will help Reduce stress hormones and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Go For A Walk
If you have 30 minutes, take a walk. The fresh air helps to relax the mind.
Walking can increase endorphins which will reduce stress hormones. It will also boost your energy and reduce fatigue.
It’s so important to get a good nights sleep. This will help to reduce stress and fatigue. It will also help to improve concentration and cognitive function. The more sleep we have, the more energy we have to help us deal with the stresses of the day.
If you have problems falling asleep, take a look at my tips to get a good nights sleep .
Reduce Alcohol, Caffeine, Nicotine
All of they things may trick you into thinking that you need them in times of stress. They may actually make you feel better for a short while.
The truth is that they can all contribute to stress. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants and can only make things worse. Although alcohol is a depressive and will calm you down in the short term, in the long run it will only contribute to feelings of anxiety. This will make stress harder to deal with.
Here are some tips on how to reduce caffeine.
For a quick, easy, and free way to help combat stress drink a glass of water. If we don’t drink enough water there is a risk of being dehydrated which is known to cause stress.
Dehydration can cause stress hormone levels to rise. It’s recommended that we drink 2 to 3 litres of water per day.
When stressed we crave foods that are very high in sugar and fat. This can lead to health issues and weight gain which of course will lead to more stress. Reduce your intake of unhealthy foods and increase the amount of foods that are known to relieve stress.
// Dark Chocolate
Have A Laugh
Laughter is a great way to reduce stress. It can greatly reduce the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter increases your intake of oxygen, stimulating your heart and lungs, and increasing endorphins.
Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation. It makes difficult situations easier to cope with, connects you with other people and improves your mood.
I have put together a handy stress buster cheat sheet. Its a quick and guide to stress relief. Download your free copy below.
Listening to soothing music can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and stress. It can instantly relax you and calm your mind.
I often turn to music when things get rough, it has never failed me yet. Try theUltimate Relaxation Playlist the next time you are feeling stressed.
Reach Out To Friends And Family
You know how the old saying goes! Sharing what’s troubling you with others can be a great relief and can reduce stress greatly.
The support of our loved ones is so important and it is never healthy to keep things bottled up.
Although they may not be able to solve your problems, just talking about it can sometimes be enough to clear your mind and enable you to see a way forward.
Yoga is a mind body practice combining physical poses, controlled breathing and meditation. It can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces stress.
Yoga has many styles and difficulty levels, meaning it’s accessible for almost everyone.
Hatha yoga is especially good for dealing with stress. It is slower paced and focuses on individual poses, combined with controlled breathing.
Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that brings our attention to the present moment. It focuses on breathing and full body scans which directs attention to particular areas of the body and sensations that can be felt.
By focusing on the here and now we are less likely to worry about the future or regret the past.
Mindfulness may reduce stress, improve sleep and help lower blood pressure.
Be More Organised
A disorganised world can create stress. Organising your day can bring a sense of control over your life which will reduce stress.
Here are some tips.
// Write things down
// Make schedules and set deadlines
// Use a checklist
// Automate everything you can
// Establish good routines
// Avoid multitasking
Be sure to check out my post on the best planners for organisation.
Whether you’re the glass half empty or half full type can affect your stress levels. Negative thoughts can activate a stress response but having an optimistic mind can reduce stress, give you better coping skills and improve your overall wellbeing.
Positive thinking is not about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring your problems but about dealing with them in a positive and healthy way.
The first step is to change your automatic thought processes from negative to positive and to focus on the best possible outcome not the worst.
Learn To Say No
It’s always easier to say yes, but taking on too much can result in loss of control. In turn this can lead to stress, which may cause you to get run down and possibly sick.
If you are worried that you will cause offence by saying no, just remember that if you are honest and respectful people will understand.
It is so much better to devote more time and energy to 5 projects than spread yourself thinly working on 10.
Accept that there are things beyond our control
It’s a fact of life that we can’t control everything. Some things are just out of our hands. Accepting this and not wasting time worrying about them will reduce stress greatly. You can’t control what other people do and how they feel but you can have the best influence possible.
If you think about the worst possible outcome I bet it’s not that bad. Know that you will get through it and move on to what you can change.
Focus on the things that can be controlled and make realistic and positive choices.
How To Keep Calm In A Stressful Situation
A couple of days ago the hot water tank in our house decided to explode. it was making the most terrifying noise and there was so much steam we couldn't get near it.
Then water started to pour from the tank, through the floor and was then coming out of the downstairs light fittings. At this point the electricity went out.
Now if I'm making this sound dramatic, I can assure you it was.
Due to my anxiety my first instinct in stressful situations is to panic and run for the hills. Luckily I now know several techniques that help me keep calm so I can deal with these situations effectively.
Why you should remain calmWhen a stressful situation occurs it is extremely easy to get stressed, lose control and let panic take over.
Severe stress and anxiety can result in a meltdown, leaving you completely incapable of dealing with a stressful situation. Severe stress can also have a detrimental affect on your health. Your body will produce adrenaline and cortisol, and your heart rate and blood pressure will rise. This is why it’s important to stay calm and maintain balance.
Here are some tips and strategies to help you keep calm in stressful situations.
Stop - Even if it is just for a second. Stop what you are doing and count to 10.
Step Away - If it is safe to do so, step away from the situation and take a break. It may just be for a minute but it will help put things into perspective.Be aware of your physical responses - If you can recognise the symptoms of stress it will be much easier to deal with them as fast as possible. You will then be able to deal with the situation calmly.
Breathe - Try a simple breathing exercise like this one.
The 478 Technique
- Exhale through the mouth
- Inhale through the nose for 4 counts
- Hold your breath for 7 counts
- Exhale through the mouth for 8 counts
Relax Your Muscles - Loosen any tight clothing and try to relax your muscles. Do this by tensing each muscle as much as you can then releasing it.The PMR technique (progressive muscle relaxation) focuses on tensing and releasing muscles by groups. Begin with the muscles in your face and neck as that is where most people carry stress. You can find a guided PMR routine here.
Keep Positive - During my crisis at the weekend it was important to focus on how to fix the situation and not dwell on what terrible things could happen. Although it was important to just be positive and not reckless, the first thing i did was make sure everyone was in a safe place.
Stay Focused - It is important to keep completely focused on the situation and what you can do to resolve it. If there are several things you need to resolve, concentrate on one part at a time to avoid overwhelm. The concentration keeps your mind busy and you will be less likely to panic.
Get Help - If you feel you can't handle something, don't. Call a friend, family member, or in my case a plumber and an electrician. this will take of a huge amount of pressure.
Avoid Stimulants - Caffeine, Alcohol, and nicotine will only heighten your stress and should be avoided until the situation is resolved.
Don’t over analyse - Don’t unnecessarily worry about things you can’t control. Focus on what you can control and what steps you can take to help the situation.
Give Yourself A Pep Talk - Positive self talk can be very helpful in a stressful situation. Tell yourself that you are brave , you are not scared and can deal with the situation. Reinforcing this will help keep you calm.
Make A Joke - Now I know this one sounds a bit ridiculous but having a sense of humour about your situation is actually a very good coping mechanism. If you laugh you will release hormones that calm you down and allow you to be in control.
In case you were wondering, the house didn't explode but we were without electricity and hot water for a few days. Which is the best we could have hoped for really, and I was the very definition of calm throughout.
Do you have any techniques you use to keep calm in times of stress? I would love to hear them.
5 Breathing Techniques To Help Reduce Stress
There is a good reason why people tell us to breathe when we are stressed or upset about something. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.
The Physical Signs Of Stress
- Fast heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness and pain in chest
- High blood pressure
When we are relaxed our breathing is steady, calm and measured. Breathing in this way during times of stress reduces the above symptoms telling our bodies it is time to calm down.
The Advantages Of Deep Breathing
- It’s free! No paying a fortune for fancy therapy.
- It doesn’t take up a lot of time. All you need is 5 or 10 minutes.
- You don’t need any equipment. Just your lungs!
- The techniques are pretty easy to learn. The advanced ones may take a little practice though.
- There is a wide range of breathing exercises. You can try some out and choose what works best for you.
Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing can strengthen your diaphragm muscles and can result in you breathing much more efficiently. This basic technique is easy to learn and can be great for calming you down.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Place one hand on your belly (just below the ribs) and one one your chest.
- Inhale through your nose and allow your belly to push your hand out. Your chest should not move at all.
- Breathe out with your lips pursed, making a whistling noise. The hand on your belly will go in. Use this hand to push the air out.
- Repeat this 5 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
This is another really easy technique to learn. It can be done almost anywhere and can reduce stress and ease anxiety quickly. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure the lengths of the inhale and exhale are equal. Balance is extremely good for the body.
- Sit in a cross legged position on the floor. If this is not possible a chair will be fine.
- Do not change your breathing at first just pay attention to your natural breath.
- Do this for at least 5 breaths.
- Inhale slowly for a count of 4.
- Pause at the top of the breath for a count of 1.
- Then slowly exhale for a count of 4.
- Pause again for a count of 1 before you repeat the exercise.
- Continue this breathing pattern for several minutes.
- With practice you may increase to a count of 6 or 8.
Stress Buster Cheat Sheet
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Upping the level a little, this technique can relieve stress and calm your mind after just a few minutes. Alternate nostril breathing can improve our ability to focus, support the lungs, help remove toxins, and settle stress.
- Sit comfortably and make sure your spine is straight.
- Take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Inhale slowly through your left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with your left thumb and hold the breath for a count of 1.
- Open the right nostril and exhale slowly.
- Inhale through the right nostril.
- Hold both nostrils closed for a count of 1.
- Open the left nostril and exhale.
- Repeat for 5 to 10 cycles.
2 To 1 Breathing
When you feel anxious, you will often find your exhalations getting shorter. This will increase stress. This technique focuses on the exhale and is extremely calming.
- Sit comfortably with your head and upper body aligned.
- Focus on breathing through your abdomen.
- Start to inhale for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 3.
- Start to deepen your exhalation.
- When you are ready begin to adjust your breaths. Inhale for a count of 2 and exhale for a count of 4.
- Focus on a smooth transition between the in breath and the out breath to avoid gasping for air.
- Do this for as long as you feel comfortable. Working up to 5 minutes.
This last one is a bit trickier but gets easier the more you practice. It is preferable to be lying down for this exercise but it can be done in other positions. Always breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth when practicing this technique.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest.