Stress, we all suffer from it at different points in our lives, either one off episodes or for prolonged periods. Stress can affect how you feel, think and behave and in the long term can have a negative effect on your health. Stress can be caused or triggered by many reasons such as relationship problems, exams, career, money worries, school or even the weather.
There is no one real quick fix answer to stopping stress but we have put together our top 5 tips to help stop stress ruling your life.
1. Make time for you
Take time to be good to yourself, sit quietly without your mobile phone or laptop, find a place where you can feel calm, a comfortable place where you enjoy just being. Take this time to think about how you are feeling and why you are feeling this way. Are you anxious, angry, sad? Think about what has got you to this place, was it an argument with a family member, or did you miss out on that promotion you were hoping you'd get? Take the time to clear your thoughts and totally relax from all the stresses of daily life, it only needs to be 15 minutes but looking after your emotional needs really is important to how you feel about yourself and situation.
2. Stay active and eat well
This one is really important and we know how easy it is to use food as a comfort and give up on looking after you and getting the right nutrients so that we feel energised and ready to face the day. Turning to foods that give us comfort normally mean eating salty, sugary and fatty foods which in the short term will lift your spirit but in the long term will do nothing to lift your overall mood and well-being. By all means treat yourself if that is what you crave but do this at a time when you feel most positive and happy, eating foods that will fuel your body will have a more positive effect on your body and mind.
Take your mind off the problem and get out and do some exercise, it only needs to be 30 minutes but by concentrating on a workout or walk in the countryside listening to your favourite music can do wonders for how you feel. Exercise decreases the stress hormones cortisol and increases the body’s natural feel good chemical endorphins.
Another key element to feeling well and healthy is to stay hydrated, water is essential for almost every function within our bodies, from flushing out toxins to aiding digestion. Aim to drink between 6-8 glasses of water each day, by quenching your thirst with water you will feel fuller and less likely to turn to unhealthy foods. Water has no calories and contains no sugars, if you don't like the taste of water add a slice of lemon or add berries or cucumber. Alternatively try superfoods like matcha or green tea that will deliver the maximum amount of nutrients in one serving and give you a long lasting smooth energy boost without the coffee or energy drink crash.
3. Talk it through
One of the worst things you can do is to keep how you are feeling built up inside, let it out whether this means talking to a friend, family member or teacher, crying or screaming just let it out. The saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved' is so true in this type of situation. If you find that hard to do or it is a sensitive subject you are struggling with, write it all down in a journal, work out why you are feeling this way, exactly what has got you to this point, put everything onto paper and let someone you trust read it through as this can be a good conversation starter. Looking in from the outside can bring solutions or ideas you may never have thought off, sharing your feelings may bring instant relief and feel like a weight has been lifted enabling you to see more clearly.
4. Breathe and relax
Just breathe, you've heard it a million times before but it really does work! Get cosy and find a comfortable position either sitting, standing or lying down. By slowing down your thoughts you will be able to focus your mind on breathing. It is important to breathe from your stomach and not to take short sharp breaths from your upper chest, focus on deep breathing pulling the air in and out slowly through your nose.
Deep breathing helps gets more nourishing oxygen into your blood steam and body, blood that is rich in oxygen will help you feel better, and give you more energy and the ability to focus more clearly. In turn this should also help with any tension that has built up in your neck, shoulders and head.
5. Focus on the positives
With social media and constant negative role models in the press it is really easy to compare your life to others around you and even celebrities and their lifestyles. It is easy to feel negative and down towards your own life. Rather than dwelling on what could be better or what you feel you should be doing or buying focus on what you have now and your achievements (believe us there will be many) and what you would like to do in the future. By concentrating on what is good around you, you will likely feel more motivated and find positives more easily. So how do you focus on the positives in life, when it is so easy to focus on mistakes and regrets in the past.
Recording your thoughts in a gratitude journal can be a great way to look for patterns in your thinking so you can review and look back on things you may have forgotten or pushed to the back of your mind and consider minor or insignificant, remember every positive thought matters.
“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” Dalai Lama
Because stress is different for everyone the solution that works for you may not work for someone else, you may find one technique that works whereas another person may need to do all 5 of the tips to feel better. Try to be conscious of when you feel stress building up and try to tackle the issues as soon as your feel the stress building before it gets to overwhelming.
If you still feel that you need extra help or to speak to a professional then we have listed a few useful links below that you may find helpful for further information and resource. Remember you are not alone, everybody will experience stress at different points in their lives, being able to spot the triggers and learning to reduce the symptoms is the key to keeping stress at a manageable level.