If you are always busy. If you are constantly thinking and worrying about the future. If you spend too much time regretting mistakes of the past. If you are not getting as much enjoyment out of life as you’d like then it’s time to do something about it. It could be an indication that you should destress now.
What Causes Stress?
OK. So how do I destress?
Do you feel that you have to keep all your plates spinning all of the time or the wheels will come off completely? Is this your coping strategy and do you think you don’t have any choice but to live at breakneck speed? Please stop for a moment to consider what will happen when your health is effected and you can’t spin anything anymore!
A bit of stress can be good for you, even lifesaving in a crisis. However, prolonged chronic stress and stress related illness are taking a massive toll on the population. These illnesses include anxiety, insomnia and depression and are increasing at an alarming rate. The World Health Organization has warned that depression is now the top cause of illness and disability in adolescents.
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We’ve put together some tried and tested relaxation advice which has worked time after time for so many people. Just click below and sit back and let Lynn take over…
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The problem is huge.
Doctors can prescribe pills to treat the symptoms of stress related illnesses. These treatments are very often quite effective, but usually with unwanted side effects. Even if there are no side effects, when the pills run out the symptoms return. It’s a bit like putting ice cubes into a pan of boiling water to cool it down. At the end of the day we need to find a way to turn off the gas to really make lasting change.
Now we know that regular exercise and a balanced diet are good for good health but were you aware what you are thinking about habitually and your habits and behaviors have a significant effect on your mental health and the level of happiness and satisfaction you experience in your personal life. Your brain is changing constantly through a process called neuroplasticity and each day brain cells die and are replaced in their thousands. Whether your brain changes for better or worse depends, in part at least, on your thinking processes and how you react to the challenges you face in everyday life.
neuroplasticity – Until quite recently scientists thought that the make up of the brain was fixed and there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. Now, however, it has been proven that we can re-wire our brains through the process of neuroplasticity. Neurons that ‘fire together wire together’ making stronger neural pathways depending on the repetition of thoughts and behaviours. This strengthens your ‘default or factory settings’
Whilst you can’t always change your circumstances you can always choose how you respond to them. How you have chosen to respond to situations up to now in your life will have shaped and conditioned your brain to how it is today, which is why everybody is different.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be able to stay positive and sail through life despite real difficulties and hardships, whilst others fall apart over seemingly trivial disappointments? It’s because they respond differently, they have learned how to destress. It has been said that ‘things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out’ essentially you can respond to a given situation in different ways and how you choose to respond shapes your brain. Optimal functioning of your neural circuitry, in your brain, affects the level of stress hormones in your blood stream which has an impact on your cells, your genes and your ‘joie de vivre’.
Here you will find effective solutions to living a happier and healthier life in this fast paced ever changing world that our evolving brain sometimes struggles to keep up with. The negative consequences of running down your resources by not recharging your batteries in an informed way include
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Skin disorders
You get plenty of alarm calls from your body letting you know that you need to destress, but often you are too quick to press the snooze button and carry on regardless. Simple techniques that will make lasting changes can be incorporated into your daily life . Knowing that you have the power to make the changes is the first step, it’s in your hands and it will have a big impact on how you feel now and on your future health, wellbeing and happiness. So when would be a good time to start? The answer is NOW!
An 8 Step Anti Stress Plan You Can Do Today
1 – Wake UP
to the fact that you need to take time to destress and you need to do it now. To do this you need to slow down and take notice of how you are really feeling and importantly how you are breathing, (there are reasons for this no doubt we can connected to an article on how the nervous system is affected by shallow short breaths or I can write something),
Signs of Sress,
- if you often feel anxious and nervous,
- if you are feeling tired and run down,
- if you aren’t sleeping well
- if you find it hard to concentrate,
- if you suffer from regular headaches,
- if you pick up regular coughs colds and infections
- if you no longer enjoy doing things you used to enjoy,
- if you feel overwhelmed or exhausted,
- if you feel you can’t cope anymore
- if you ‘fly off the handle’ and get upset easily
2 – Discover
Become more aware of the physical effects of stress on your body – racing heart rate, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, butterflies in the stomach, shaky voice. Then discover the anti stress techniques that work for you – learn what your personal stress relievers are.
- Manage your time better by learning to say no, SLOW DOWN and take time for you
- Exercise, whether it’s going to the gym, taking up a sport, walking briskly, exercise has been proven to relieve stress, improve cognitive function and has been proven to be at least as effective as anti depressants in relieving depression in many cases (article Huffingtonpost.com)
- Notice tension in your body, book a massage
- Become more aware of and challenge your negative thoughts,
- Try and see the good in situations and the people around you
- Take a walk in nature and focus on your surroundings
- Do more of what you love doing
3 – Take small steps
knowing this is a process and takes practice – small steps are best – set yourself up for success.
- If you are starting at the gym don’t over do it or those good intentions will wear off quickly
- Don’t launch into meditation for an hour at a time, start with a few minutes and increase each week
- Don’t change too many things at once some habits are hard to change and need focus,
- Reward yourself for small achievements
4 – Fire your ‘Inner Critic’
Changing habits can be hard – be kind to yourself – don’t beat yourself up after all you are only human and humans are far from perfect. If you are constantly putting yourself down telling yourself you are not good enough you need to change the tape. Give your inner critic a kinder voice and talk to yourself as you would a friend to in difficulty.No only will this feel better it does good things to your brain.
5 – Awareness
becoming more aware of the content of your mind – learn mindfulness techniques and use them.Most of the time we on automatic pilot being driven by our thoughts, our ‘to do’ lists and our inbox. Being more aware of what’s actually going on is an essential part of reducing stress and making better choices. Mindfulness practice involves focussing your attention on the present moment and has been around since the time of the Buddha. Science now backs up the benefits of this ancient practice. It is simple and easy to learn the challenge is calm the ‘monkeys of the mind’ by practicing focusing your attention on whats happening NOW.
- Mindful eating – Taking more time over at least one meal a week, just eat no other distractions, smell the food, taste it, savour it, enjoy it!
- Mindful walking – aware of each step you take, feel the sole of your foot and notice your immediate surroundings
- Mindful breathing – take a few moments a few times a day to check in with your breathing, and take 3 deep breaths focussing only on the in flow and outflow of breath into the body and how it feels
- Mindful listening – have at least one conversation each with your partner, child or work colleague where you are really listening – no phone checking – not planning what you are going to say next before they finish their sentence, and don’t finish it for them, be present and attentive
- Checking in with what you are currently thinking about is it constructive or destructive, dump the destructive thoughts by moving your attention and distracting yourself. This will get easier when you practice mindfulness. We have more than 40,000 thoughts a day and most of them tend to be negative so plenty to work on!
- Being on task – if you are involved in a task give it your full attention its called being in FLOW and is very beneficial for your brain.
6 – Acceptance
makes you much less stressed – if you can’t change it don’t worry about it and ask yourself – what needs to be done?
If you are often wishing things are different than they are, arguing with reality then you are adding unnecessary stress to your life. It is what it is! Once you have accepted the reality of ‘what is’ you can turn your attention to what you can do about it. If the answer is ‘nothing’ don’t waste anymore time or energy on it. If the answer is ‘something’ then do it.
7 – Count Your Blessings
Feeling grateful for the little things in your life is simple and free and scientifically proven to be very beneficial to mental health. Spend a little time at the beginning or end of each day focussing your attention on what you feel grateful for. Keep a diary or record it in your phone. Then when stuff happens you have a record that proves that not everything in your life is bad. Its all about what you focus your attention on it re-wires your brain.
8 – Action
make the changes – make a plan to destress, lighten up, let go and have more fun – do it every day[PDF with links to our destress products]