Stress is something that affects us all in varying degrees and at different times in our lives. The stress of being late is not exactly comparable to ending a relationship or living through a pandemic. However, depending on where you are at mentally, physically and emotionally, it is often the little things that do ‘get’ to us while we sail through the bigger situations life throws our way relatively easily. If you are in shape, healthy and have a means to relax during your week that can make a huge difference. Here are some simple ideas to help you holistically for those inevitable stressful times.
Did you ever notice that when you feel fit and healthy, life doesn’t really get you down in the same way as when you feel out of condition? Factor into your schedule three-hour exercise spots during the week, which you can maintain easily and without too much hassle. Pick an exercise you like. Walking is a classic, which can be done with a friend 2m apart or your partner for a good gossip or alone to chill out. Swimming is very therapeutic and so many people are now trying regular sea swimming as a great way to rejuvenate. Running and light jogging again can have a soothing rhythmic effect on your system while keeping you trim and toned.
The key to a good exercise regime is that it is sustainable right through your life. If you plan to go back to the gym to train four times a week for an hour, will you be able to do this when you are 40, 50 or 60? Your body gets used to exercise and when it stops or is drastically reduced yet you eat the same quantity of food what happens? The weight piles on and your body tone is reduced. The trick is to maintain an easy level of exercise, which combined with good healthy eating, will sustain you throughout life.
Does your head ever feel fit to burst with worries and problems whirring around inside giving you no peace? Mental stress is the worst of all. It can leave your body feeling drained and your nerves in tatters. An easy way to relieve mental stress is to think of some hobby or interest that engrosses you completely. Watching a film or reading a book is great escapism, you become so caught up in the story line that the problem or worry is relieved for an hour or two. Any pursuit that you love to do which leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed will do.
Another excellent time-out routine is a very easy and gentle form of meditation. Many of us have heard of this but don’t know a lot about it and so feel it is ‘not for me’. Meditation is simply focusing your mind on one thing to the exclusion of all else. So, you might lie or sit down with your eyes closed and listen to your breathing for five minutes. Every time a thought pops into your head (which it will!) let it drift away and return to the sound of your breath. Another easy form of meditation, which works very well in a Western context, is to lie or sit and think of a special person you love or a special event you enjoyed. For the five minutes you are thinking of something very pleasant…it works like a charm. To benefit completely you need to tell whoever you live with that you are going to take a little time out so as not to be disturbed for say ten minutes.
The best way to keep yourself emotionally sound is to realise that your emotions are there for a reason – to release tension and feelings, to indicate if something is wrong and to help you to grow. Don’t be afraid to experience your emotions both good and not so good. Remember your friends and family know you therefore you should be comfortable showing your vulnerable side now and then.
Often, we hold in our emotions keeping the ‘show on the road’ so to speak. This will keep the family routine ticking over but at what price? Your friends or colleagues will understand if you say something like ‘I feel a bit low today, I just need to take it easy, and I’ll be fine tomorrow’. You are letting them know that you aren’t feeling great, that you know a little time-out will help and that you will be ok again soon. The last is particularly important for children to know. Also delegate a bit, let others help too.
A good idea is to have some favourite treats for when you feel a bit low – not necessarily of the chocolate variety! A long soak in the bath with candles and aromatherapy oils, a massage, a hairdo, a cappuccino with your favourite magazine, a pint with the lads, the list is endless. Often just the knowledge that you have lined up a treat at the weekend will keep you going through a busy and stressful week. There are a myriad of little stress busters you can do to keep your physical, mental and emotional health in good shape. Keep it simple, enjoyable and regular.
Want more advice? Listen to the Mind Your Precious Self Podcast!
If you enjoyed this article, follow Dr Karen Ward on social media where she combines her holistic therapies with her love of nature, Celtic Shamanism and academic studies.
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