What is stress?
Stress manifests itself when we’re under pressure due to challenges or change, and we feel like we can’t cope. When we are stressed the body produces more adrenaline and cortisol, which are stress hormones. This increases your blood pressure so you might sweat more, feel tense or become restless.
Stress can cause things like headaches or stomach problems if it persists. Mentally and emotionally stress can make it hard to concentrate or think clearly and you might get angry or frustrated. It can even lead to depression. If you think you might be suffering from stress, try one of these seven steps.
If you are suffering from stress, talk to people about how you’re feeling, as studies have shown that verbalising feelings reduces the fight or flight response.
Meditation is great for reducing stress. It only has to be 10 minutes a day. It’s like working out, but for the health of your brain instead of your body. Apps like Headspace are a great place to start.
Otherwise known as getting out in nature (or going for a run!) Ecotherapy is becoming increasingly popular; the fresh air, sunlight, and greenery help you to feel better and put things in perspective, so get outside.
4. Shift your priorities
In his book, ‘The Happiness Advantage’ Shawn Achor says that many of us prioritise success (ie. work) thinking it will lead to happiness when in fact, there’s no evidence that success makes you happy. He argues that in fact, happy people are more likely to be successful. If you prioritise happiness, you’ll likely lower your stress levels in the process.
5. Develop mindfulness
When we’re mindful, we’re concentrated in the present moment, rather than the future or the past. When we’re present we’re less likely to get caught up in stressful thoughts and better able to carefully respond, rather than reacting. Being present is a skill you can develop, like strengthening a mindfulness muscle. Mindfulness meditation (like Headspace or those taught at Buddhist centres) is a great way to do this.
6. Make lifestyle changes
Look at what triggers stress for you and see if there are any lifestyle changes you can make to make things easier for you. For example, moving closer to work if the commute stresses you out, or getting a cleaner to help you at home.
7. Ask for support
Sometimes even your usual stress release can start to get you down. If your fitness regime is contributing to your stress, look at getting some support, perhaps through a running club or coach. For many of my clients, a huge source of stress is the pressure they put on themselves, so ultimately, take care of yourself and don't beat yourself up. A bit of kindness and self-compassion is often the best way to motivate yourself anyway! Remember that you're loved for who you are, not for your achievements.
Chloe Brotheridge's book The Anxiety Solution, A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You published by Penguin is available to buy from 23rd February 2017.
Get a FREE 30-minute hypnotherapy for relaxation MP3 at www.calmer-you.com/free
For information on one-to-one sessions of hypnotherapy in London, visit www.easywaytochange.co.uk