Neom Organics Cocooning Scented Candle and my pregnant lady version of wine: Coconut Water!
I’ve talked about stress a few times here on the blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever been really open about just how stressed I’ve been in the past. At some points over the last few years stress has affected me so much that I’ve experienced eye twitches and shortness of breath. It being Mental Health Awareness Week is also another reason to highlight stress.
Stress needs to be taken seriously.
Stress can come in many forms, including complementary stress. I know that a little bit of the right kind of stress can help me be more productive and reach my goals. For example, whenever we step outside our comfort zone we are going to feel some stress, but of course that is the only way we can grow. We can also place stress on our body by not eating well, a lack of sleep or over exercise. Knowing your yourself, and when positive stress tips over into negative stress, is important for staying healthy!It’s key to identify sources of stress and try and change them when you can. A lot of de-stressing techniques will just be like a pebble in the ocean if you can’t tackle the route cause. Of course that can be easier said than done, and sometimes all you can do is change how you think about a certain situation and do your best to keep yourself healthy.
Here are some of my tips for de-stressing…
Write a list of the sources of stress in your life, then create an action plan for dealing with them.
For me, finances were a bit of a stress so I set myself a goal to save enough for a 6 month reserve that I could live on if anything went wrong. Another thing that stressed me out was comparing myself to others. Of course this one isn’t so easy to deal with, but I identified the sources of things that didn’t make me feel good and stopped exposing myself to them, then I worked on changing how I thought about them. I kept telling myself that I am on my journey, no one else’s and reminding myself that I am wonderfully unique! More recently, I’ve been a little stressed at the idea of bringing a new baby home to a one bed flat, again not something that can easily be changed, so I’ve changed the way I think about it, also called re framing. Now I see it as a little adventure, a way that we can save more money and the fact that I’ll be even closer to my baby all of the time.
When you feel stressed it’s even more important that you don’t add to that stress with a crap diet! There’s no need to stress about every morsel that passes your lips either though, just eat mostly whole foods especially lots of fruit and vegetables. You might also find that some properly prepared whole grains can be beneficial, as are other foods rich in B vitamins as these can be used up quickly in a stressed body. Also try and keep an eye on refined sugar and caffeine as they will just add to your over all stress rather than help it!
Get enough sleep
Sleep is so important, I really can’t highlight this enough! Check out my free sleep guide for loads of ideas on how you can improve your sleep.
Re-assess your exercise
As I mentioned above, as much as exercise is good for us, too much or the wrong kind for your body can seriously stress it out. I think the best way to access this to be really honest with how you feel before and after workouts. If you do you long run on a weekend are you looking forward to it or dreading it? How do you feel afterwards? A lot has been said about the stress long distance running can put on our body, however I actually believe this is an individual thing (as I do with everything health related!) some people clearly thrive running long distances, yet others don’t. Whatever kind of exercise you are doing I think you should be having a least one, preferably two rest days. If you have a lot of stress in your life, I think much could be said for dropping a usual workout, replacing it with yoga and more time to sleep instead!
Make time windows
This was a great piece of advice given to me by a fellow health coach. Meditation etc is wonderful, but if it becomes yet another item on a never ending to do list then what’s the point? She suggested reducing over all tasks and workload to create ‘time windows’ i.e. space in your day where you have nothing planned to fill it. Then you can choose what you’d like to do with that time, if it’s meditation that’s great, but reading a book, doing some healthy or even no so healthy baking or even just going for a walk can be very relaxing.
Have a list of your fave de stressing activities
When you do have those time windows, having a little list to remind you of the things you can do is great for inspiration. Here are some of my faves:
- Candle lit bath – I would massively recommend Neom Candles, they very kindly sent me the Cocooning candle pictured above to join in their stress less challenge!
- Glass of
winecoconut water, movie and candles
- Cooking something delicious but simple
- Online window shopping
- Reading a book
- Going out for a cup of good coffee
The things that work best for me are no brainer activities where I don’t have to think much! That’s really what de-stressing is all about for me, time not to have to think too much and switch my brain off for a bit.
Well I had to have this on the list didn’t I? I openly admit I struggle with meditation but I highly recommend the Take 10 Headspace app. You can also try my little technique of taking 5 deep, purposeful breaths every morning. It takes seconds and can have a huge impact!
The two therapies I have found really help me are Reiki and massage. I find Reiki extremely relaxing and even if you don’t believe in it, lying down in a quiet space with someone sending you positive vibes is a lovely experience.
What role does stress play in your life? What are your tips for de stressing?