Even the most laid-back among us suffer from stress. Stress and anxiety can be unbelievably debilitating and can trigger a whole host of symptoms from sleep issues, heart palpitations and panic attacks to raised blood pressure, poor skin health, depression and more. Failing to address stress, even temporary stress, can lead to relationship problems, can affect your work and productivity and disrupt family life.
Whether your stress is long or short term, situational or unexplained, there are measures you can take to reduce stress and hopefully relax enough to start enjoying life again.
Identify Stress Triggers.
Common triggers for stress include work, relationships, imposter syndrome, family life, finances, and illness. You may be lying awake at night trying to run through your budget wondering how you will afford Christmas/a holiday/to fix your car. Perhaps you are worrying about how to deal with a difficult co-worker or family member. Or whether anyone at work has figured out that you feel like you are out of your depth.
Compile a list over a week or longer, identifying periods when you felt stressed. Look at who you were with, what you were doing, whether you were tired, hungry, thirsty. Had you agreed to do something or go somewhere against your better judgement?
I frequently overbook myself or end up in situations I regret because I don’t want to offend or upset people. Once you have worked out what your triggers might be you can start to formulate a plan to lower your stress and start living your best life.
Tackle Stress Yourself
It is possible to reduce or even eliminate stress from your life just by making a few changes to your lifestyle.
- Regular exercise can be a real mood lifter as natural endorphins kick in with even light or moderate exercise. I’m not suggesting you start running marathons but even a gentle half hour walk, or swim daily can work wonders in reducing stress. Join a gymn or find a yoga or Pilates class – if loneliness or being stuck in a toxic friendship is making you feel anxious this might be a great opportunity to meet new people.
- Everyone has different ways of relaxing. Some people like to run their worries away while I am very much more into drinking caffeine free teas in front of a roaring log fire kinda gal. Top tip: many teas have active stress busting ingredients? Look for teas containing chamomile, mint, rose, matcha and lavender or check out the relaxing Blend 3 from Mother Cuppa, designed to help busy women relax and unwind. Try not to rely on fast food or fast fashion to trigger those mood lifting hormones. Your health and your purse will thank you.
- Look at what is important to you. Modern life is so led by stuff. Electronics, cars, designer gear and more. But is the pursuit of what is perceived to be happiness making you unhappy? It’s one thing to work hard to help support yourself and your family and another to work to the bone to keep up with the Jones’. If cutting your hours or changing your job will swipe away stress, then seriously consider it. Time is precious and we only get one go at this life. Make sure you are making the most of the time you have even if that means running a cheaper car or leaving it longer between phone upgrades.
Sometimes self help is sadly not enough to fully beat stress. Accept when life is getting on top of you and seek help. First stop might be your GP who could offer medication or referral to talking therapies. Or you could find a therapist who can help you via alternative remedies or private therapy.
Admitting out loud that you are not coping is not weak or an admission of failure. It is a brave move proving you are self-aware and keen to make the most of life.