When you think of the word “stress”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Getting the children up in time for school? Finishing that assignment that’s been sitting on the side for the last week?
Stress is something we all deal with on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and ensuring we provide ourselves with time to unwind and relax is key to improving both your physical and emotional health. Build up of stress can have major effects on your mental health, and it’s something that we should talk about more often.
Our bodies react and follow what the mind conceives. The performance of the body is always affected by the state of the mind, that is why individuals who are often stressed may suffer from accelerated ageing and health issues. It’s important to allow yourself some moments of peace to help reduce the stress that you may be feeling. Here are 7 simple ways to relax your body and mind:
Feeling stressed? Pop on your walking shoes and go for a walk. Whether that’s a 5-minute walk or a five-mile walk, the fresh air is a great way to reduce stress levels physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Walking has both direct and indirect effects on your stress levels. Physical activity like a walk or a visit to the local gym encourages the release of a hormone called endorphins, which are linked to happiness. When people become stressed, they may begin to feel like they’re trapped and can’t do anything about it. Indirectly, going for a walk can provide you with a sense of escaping to a soft, quiet environment.
Whilst seeming like the obvious choice, cigarettes are only a short-term fix, and in the long-term, you may result in feeling a lot worse. An alternative which may not sound as satisfying as a cigarette is to talk to family, friends or even colleagues – tackling the cause of stress head-on can help to reduce the risk of it happening again.
If you need some additional help to identify what’s causing you to become stressed, then the NHS has produced a handy guide on recognising your stress triggers.
Recharge your body, mind and soul with yoga and meditation. Bringing together physical and mental disciplines can help to accomplish a peaceful body and mind, helping to reduce stress which may have built up over a period over time.
A large sum of people are under the impression that yoga just helps to increase flexibility, but they’re wrong. Practising yoga may seem like an hour of stretching, however, it can do so much more for your mind and body. This includes the way you may feel, look and even move.
Our moods are often affected by what we consume. Always eat foods rich in nutrients, like; antioxidants, folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables must also be included in your diet, and when thirsty, drink a bottle of water and stay away from soda and flavoured drinks.
When many of us start to feel stressed, our first instinct is to reach for the chocolate bars, carbs and coffee. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to help, if anything, it will make the situation a whole lot worse. When you’re stressed, try to avoid caffeine, as this will only accelerate your body’s response to stress.
Many people tend to forget actually how important sleep is for your body. Sleep helps to restore the mind and body. If you are not getting enough restful sleep it can lead to poor health, increasing anxiety, depression, and the decreasing ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time. As an adult, you should aim for 8-9 hours of sleep a night, and as a teenager, you should be getting at least 9 hours of restful sleep a night.
Giving yourself time to do the things you love will help to reduce the build-up of stress. Do you have a hobby? Baking? Crafting? DIY? No matter what your hobby may be, ensure you give yourself three to four hours a week to fulfil those activities. This will help you to unwind and relax, thinking of only positive thoughts.
Another great way to reduce stress is by stepping away from technology. Social media is becoming more and more popular, whilst this may sound great, many people are becoming less aware of the effects it’s having on their lives. Switch off your phone and snuggle up with a good book and a cuppa, trust me you’ll feel a lot better.
Regardless of how you carry out your life, it is guaranteed that you will experience daily stress and tension. In this fast-moving world we all live in, it is important to learn the best ways to relax and have time to practice these methods. If you have any questions or queries please feel free to get in touch on 01733 639 040 or head over to our contact page for more information on counselling.
Matt is a trained and licenced Mindfulness teacher and Stress and Anxiety Reduction Counsellor operating in and around the Peterborough area. After overcoming his own stress and anxiety he's found his purpose teaching others to do the same.
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