We all lead busy lives these days. Working hours, time spent commuting, seeing our friends and family. There are several things going on in our daily lives that mean we are often being pulled in different directions. This can leave us feeling low on time to do the things that help us relax and switch-off.
Stress is a well-known side effect of modern life. In some cases it can have a slighter effect and actually be known to increase productivity and help us reach deadlines faster by pushing us to go that little bit further. But overall stress is a negative in our lives and can cause long term problems such as anxiety and/or depression.
Bupa have found that up to 44% of adults feel stressed. This is a worryingly high figure and indicates the scale of the impact that our busy lives are having upon our well-being.
Reaching breaking point can be avoided if we engage in simple and effective activities that help us reconnect our minds with our bodies and take a step away from the factors causing us to reach peak stress levels.
A few minutes a day can have a profound effect on reducing anxiety. Research has shown that practicing mediation daily can help to realign our neural pathways, thereby making us more resilient to dealing with stress.
It’s easy to do. Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor and focus on your breathing. Recite a soothing mantra in your head (something that calms you) and let go of any negative thoughts that interfere with your focus.
Try: There are several mediation apps available that can help anyone who may be new to mediation and unsure of how to clear their minds. Give one a go and see if this technique can work for you.
- Connect with your body
Stress in the mind leads to stress in the body. Office jobs that involve eight hours plus sat at a desk can not only leave our minds frazzled, but our bodies also hold on to this tension causing muscles to tighten and ache.
Small amounts of exercise at regular intervals can give you a break from concentration and help us to reconnect with our bodies.
Try: Going for a stroll at lunchtime or doing 20 minutes of yoga before work. If you find it difficult to fit exercise into your day, simply getting up and walking around the office every 30 minutes will help to reconnect you with your body and take your mind away from work stresses.
- Become more present
Smart phones mean we are often connected to a variety of different spaces whilst only being physically present in one. This means we can take on the pressures and expectations of spaces and places that we wouldn’t have dealt with without the interconnectedness of our phones.
Try: Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the present moment in times of stress. If you feel like there are too many expectations, too many people to please, or there is too much to take in, then breathe deeply and focus on an object in the present only. This will help you to gain perspective and hopefully leave you feeling more connected to the positives that are immediately around you.
- Be grateful of the positives
Happiness breeds happiness. If you find yourself in stressful situations often, then take time to note down things that you are grateful for and cast your mind back to these when you are feeling stressed.
Try: Keeping a journal of gratitude, say by your bed or in your desk draw, and visualising these sentiments can take you away from any negative thoughts and help you to relax.
- Listen to music
Research has shown that listening to soothing music can reduce your heart rate, leading to lower levels of stress and anxiety. Similarly, listening to music that reminds you of happiness and positive emotions is also a great way to reduce stress levels.
Try: Get into a routine of listening to music in times of happiness. For example, at dinner with your friends and family or on a lazy Sunday morning. Keep a playlist of the same songs and play these just before (or after) a stressful situation, such as on the way to a meeting or on the way home from a difficult day. Your mind will associate the music with happiness and help you to reach a place of relaxation instead.
We asked the team at PHA Media what helps them to relax and avoid feeling stressed, here’s what they said:
“I enjoy Meditation, I regularly use the Headspace app and Budify” – Abbi
“Twenty minutes of yoga always does the trick for me!” – Katy
“Offloading to a friend or partner. Unless they’re the ones that made you stressed in the first place!” – Claire
“I do a page of my colouring book and listen to Radio 4 #grandma” – Alice
“I like to get some fresh air. Even just a short walk around the block to clear my head helps so much when things are getting on top of me” – Milly
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