These days we all lead busy lives, with longer working hours, time spent commuting and seeing our friends and family we are often being pulled in different directions and this can leave us feeling time poor and not able to do the things that help us relax and switch-off.
Stress is a well-known side effect of modern life. Infiltration of the internet and smart phones in everything we do means we are expected to appear available and engaged at all times, leading to burn out and little time left to ourselves.
Pressure from work can, in some cases, help to increase productivity and allow us to reach our deadlines faster by pushing us that little bit further when we may not feel like it. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t sustainable and that overall, stress can cause long term problems such as anxiety and/or depression.
Bupa have found that up to 44% of adults feel stressed, demonstrating the scale of the impact that our busy lives our having upon our well-being.
Engaging in simple and effective activities that help us reconnect our minds with our bodies helps us take a step away from the factors causing us to reach peak stress levels, and avoids us reaching breaking point.
In support of April’s Stress Awareness Month, we have put together a list of ideas to help you reduce your stress levels, have a read and decompress!
A few minutes a day can have a profound effect upon 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 also 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.
Why not try: Mediation apps, there are plenty available and can help anyone who may not have tried the technique before and unsure of how to clear their minds. Give one a go and see if it can work for you.
2.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 cannot only leave our minds frazzled but our bodies tense, causing our muscles to tighten and ache.
Small amounts of exercise at regular intervals can give us a break from concentration and help us reconnect with our bodies.
Why not 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 or so will help you reconnect with your body and take your mind away from work stresses.
3.Become more present
Smart phones and social media allow us to connect 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 necessarily dealt with had we not been connected to our phones.
Why not try: To 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, 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.
4.Be grateful for the positives
Happiness breeds happiness! If you often find yourself in stressful situations, then take time to note down things that you are grateful for and cast your mind back to these when you are feeling stressed.
Why not try: Keeping a journal of gratitude, by your bed or in your desk draw, trying to visualise these feelings can take you away from any negative thoughts and help you to relax.
5.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 happy times and positive emotions is also a great way to reduce stress levels.
Why not try: To get into a routine of listening to music during times when you are most happy, for example, at dinner with friends and family or on a lazy Sunday morning. Keep a playlist of these songs and play them 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 reach a place of relaxation instead.
If you need any further help or guidance about how to deal with stress, give us a call.