April marks the start of 2018 Stress Awareness Month – a time to highlight the cause of stress, the effects of stress on the body and mind and how to work through it with an emphasis on self-care.

We all suffer from stress at some point in our lives as it’s a natural response to the pressures that daily life presents or a reaction to a sudden trauma.

Like different personality traits, some people are naturally better at dealing with stress than others but recognizing the traits of stress and anxiety will help you to manage it in a healthier way.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, irritable, generally anxious or having difficulty concentration or making decisions, you may be suffering from stress. It can also lead to physiological impacts such as headaches, muscle tension, insomnia and fatigue.

Those with smoking or drinking habits will notice their reliance on alcohol or cigarettes increasing and it can affect your relationships with loved ones. Here are five of the most useful ways you can relieve your stress, just by doing daily activities.

Top 5 stress-busters

Stretching

Yoga is one of the best options in terms of stress, relaxation, fitness and self-esteem. It’s not an exercise purely for the fitness fanatics but instead can be incorporated into your everyday life. Having a mat in your bedroom to do a few gentle repetitions of yoga stretching can help to change the course of your day for the better.

Take five minutes in the morning to stretch out your back, open up your hips and chest all while breathing into each of the stretches. If you don’t feel like committing to a yoga studio, sign up for a trial to learn the poses and the basics of yoga philosophy.

Meditation classes also tie into yoga and can help you feel a lot more relaxed and happy with the present. Five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night will help your mind to focus on the present rather than feeling stressed about the past or the future.

Mindfulness

In many ways, mindfulness is an easy one in that you don’t have to go to a class or set aside time to do it. You can practice mindfulness in mundane and everyday tasks.

When you’re on your morning commute, instead of wishing to get to your destination as quick as you possibly can, try not to think about the end goal and instead on where you are in the present.

Being on the tube, stuck in traffic or on the bus might be a stressful situation but being mindful and observant of everything around you might help your mind to slow down. Even when you’re washing up, take dish by dish and think about what you’re doing. Focusing on small details will help your mind switch off from other pressing issues.

Stress awareness month - washing the dishes
Stress awareness month – practice self care everywhere, yes, even when washing the dishes

Massage

Muscles can be tense when stress stores in your body until you release it. When you’re suffering from stress or anxiety, you can often find that your jaw becomes tight, shoulders will scrunch and your hips can lock. Going for a full body massage can release every tension and a head massage will encourage you to fully relax.

You can also learn how to give yourself a facial massage to relax the jaw, hand and foot massages and some forms of exercise can also give your body a massage.

For a simple way to massage your feet for instance, take a tennis ball under your feet and roll it back and forth. For an easy head massage, while washing your hair, spend more time massaging the pressure points on your head such as the temples, the backs of the ears and the neck.

Health Foods

There are so many different foods that claim to help with stress such as leafy greens, oats, blueberries and pistachios and dark chocolate. Whether you believe that foods help or not, eating healthily is a form of self-care and can definitely reduce stress, mood swings and anxiety.

Avoid junk food and the usual unhealthy food to switch to home-made, fresh alternatives. Not only will this perk up your mood but you’ll look great too which can really help when you’re feeling stressed.

Sleep

The guaranteed way to overcome any illness is with sleep. Getting a great night’s sleep will improve your mood, daily performance and health and is the best form of self-care you can give yourself. If you work a lot, sleep is paramount to sharpen your attention and reduce blood pressure.

Try not to burn yourself out during the week and sleep it all off at the weekends. It’s better to have a balance which allows you to sleep more during the week as well as at the weekend. This will mean that your anxiety will be lessened and you will find yourself more emotionally stable.

For more information on how to deal with stress and anxiety, visit the NHS Website

 

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