Simple ways to deal with stress in everyday life
Our Pilates, yoga and weight loss instructor Viv in Murcia, Spain shares her advice for dealing with stress.
Everyone at some stage in their lives will go through a period of stress. It might be due to a life event, or overwork, or for no obvious reason. Most will work through it but some struggle to cope with this low period and if it is accompanied and caused by a life event, it will often be difficult to cope with everyday life.
The effects of stress can take a toll physically, causing tiredness, aches and pains, low immunity to illnesses, such as colds and flu, sleepless nights, increased or decreased appetite and many other physical problems that make us feel uncomfortable. The mental effects include loss of confidence, low self-esteem and difficulties with relationships and communicating in general, apathy about things that usually motivate and excite us and a general feeling of flatness.
If stress or depression is affecting life in a very debilitating way then professional help should be sought. There are things you can do that will help; it’s just getting the motivation to do them when at such a low ebb.
So, what simple steps can we take to help ourselves that don’t require too much effort?Here are a few tips that are virtually effortless and should help to lift your body and spirit. Once lifted its much easier to take control of the situation and start to get back on an even keel and tackle the causes that created this state.
• Breathe. Never underestimate the power of focussing on the breath, as it’s an effective way to reduce stress; simply by breathing in slowly and deeply and extending the outbreath, it will calm the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and slow down mental agitation; breathe in for a count of 4 and exhale for 6, once you have mastered this, increase to inhale for 6 and exhale for 8. Do this regularly, especially if you wake up in the night feeling anxious.
• Get as much sunshine and fresh air as possible
• Reduce or eliminate stimulants such as coffee and alcohol
• Eat plenty of fresh foods and vegetables and if appetite is lost, try smoothies and juices
• Invest in a journal and write down your feelings, speak to yourself and ask yourself what will help to make you feel better? Write down those thoughts, you will be surprised at how speaking to yourself can often help…you have the answers within and by asking yourself in quiet times, the answers will often rise to the surface.
• Walk, do gentle stretching, exercise in some way, so that you focus your attention on your physical body and that allows you to spend time in the present, instead of worrying about past events, or the future.
• Find a yoga teacher, especially restorative yoga, as this is very beneficial for those times when your energy is at its lowest.
• Do nothing, think nothing, just be aware, listen, to music and calming sounds, light a candle, or use some lavender or aromatherapy oils. Give yourself a gentle facial and head massage.
• Have an affirmation to encourage and help you and repeat many times until you feel your spirits lift, for example; ‘I’m happy and bright and everything’s al-right’.
If you try one or all of these things it will definitely help, but remember in most cases, stress and depression is a temporary state and will usually pass, so acceptance helps too.
Find time for yourself, love yourself and be as kind to yourself as you would be to others.