April is National Stress Awareness Month. So, we want to encourage everyone to make healthy lifestyle changes to better manage stress.
Life is hectic - unhelpful emotions like anger, frustration, fear, and disappointment create stress and anxiety and become barriers to achievement. Stress not only clouds vision, it is also the single largest cause of employee absence in the UK. It also is the cause of both physical and mental ill health.
Here are 5 Simple Ways to Unplug Stress
Take a deep breath
It may sound obvious, but when you are feeling under pressure remember to breathe properly. This means swapping short, shallow breaths from your chest that are your body’s response to a stressful situation, for slow, deep breaths from your abdomen. Abdominal breathing will help you relieve tension and anxiety by slowing your heartbeat and allowing your muscles to relax. A great way to build this into your lifestyle is to sing in a group or choir – research shows that singing in unison lowers your cortisol levels and helps relieve stress!
Visualisation is a powerful tool to help you manage your stress levels. It allows you to focus on the present moment and detach yourself from unhelpful thoughts. For example, if you are about to present in a high-pressure meeting, take a couple of minutes to sit down quietly and picture a time when you felt calm and happy. This mental relaxation will cause physiological changes to your body such as lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate.
Manage your thoughts
When you’re feeling under a lot of pressure, it’s very easy for the smallest worry to spiral out of control into something catastrophic. The reason successful people manage stress so effectively is because they are able to keep their sense of perspective. One of the ways to achieve this is to flip any negative self-talk into something positive. For example, ask yourself “What’s the worse that can happen?” and then try and solve the problem. Another key piece of advice I tell my clients is to remember when good is good enough – this is particularly important if you are a perfectionist as often we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to piling on the pressure!
Don’t be a slave to technology
In today’s world, most of us can be accessible 24 hours a day and while this can give us greater flexibility over where we choose to work, it can also have a negative effect on our stress levels. Constantly checking our emails or phones has been shown to raise the cortisol levels in our bodies – which means we are, in effect, on constant alert. So one of my top stress-busting tips is to remember to have some downtime from technology. Whether you don’t check emails over the weekend or don’t take work calls on holiday – knowing that you can’t be contacted will help you feel less stressed.
Take some exercise
And finally, don’t overlook the important role exercise plays in your mental wellbeing. Physical exercise is one of the most effective stress relievers and the great news is it doesn’t mean you have to spend two hours pounding on a treadmill. Just an extra ten minutes a day can help reduce stress – whether it’s going for a walk to get your lunch rather than eating a sandwich at your desk or walking up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift – you will notice a boost in your energy levels that will help lift your mood.
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