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E-Quipped to... Reduce Your Stress 3 Ways
This newsletter refers to Stressed to Kill, an article I have written and posted on my website.
Almost everyone I speak to these days’ talks about various catastrophic events going on in the world – the War in the Ukraine, global inflation and the rapidly rising cost of living, the ongoing impact of climate change etc. – and how stressful they are.
Whether these catastrophic events impact you directly or not, most of us have a lot of stress to deal with in our daily lives. While stress is not always a bad thing (it can actually energise and motivate us to get going and deal with the impending threat), too much stress does have a negative impact and so working on ways to reduce the stress is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Image by: MaxPixel
Recognise Your Stress Symptoms
Most of us know some of the symptoms of stress, like not being able to sleep, being forgetful and perhaps even being clumsy and accident prone, but there are many symptoms that are often not recognised as being part of stress. Before you can reduce your stress you need to recognise all your stress symptoms for what they are.
It’s useful to consider the symptoms of stress in three categories:
Take a look at the symptoms of stress in this stress diagnostic and tick off the ones that you have experienced in the past few weeks.
Reducing Your Stress
It’s helpful to reduce your stress by doing things in all three of the categories of symptoms. Here are some suggestions:
Are you sleeping well at the moment? If not, have a look at your sleep hygiene and identify improvements that you can make. Find out more about the Principles of Good Sleep Hygiene in my article Insomnia.
If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, make sure you get up and stretch frequently throughout the day. Also, make sure you factor in regular screen breaks and take time away from your desk for lunch.
A lot of people struggle to drink enough water throughout the day which can cause a vicious cycle: thirsty because you are stressed and stressed because you are thirsty. Aim to drink one 250ml glass of water for every 10 kilograms of body weight per day. So if you weigh 60 kgs drink 6 glasses of water. Drink more if you have been sweating or losing fluids for some other reason.
Get organised and plan some healthy meals for the week ahead. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with all the necessary vitamins helps with both physical and mental health. You will cope better with stress if you are eating healthily.
Cognitive & Psychological
Be kind to yourself and take time out for self-care. Looking after yourself is like the oxygen mask on the plane; put yours on first and you’ll be in a better position to help others.
Can you name your favourite memory? Take a moment to pause and remember all the little details. How things looked, smelt, tasted and felt. What emotions did you feel in that exact moment? An exercise like this can reduce stress levels quickly.
Find a few minutes of your day to practice mindfulness as this is a great stress-busting activity. This needn’t be a long or complex process; it can be as simple as practicing mindful breathing or eating. To find out more about mindfulness read my article: Living in the now.
Smile. Smiling can alter our brain chemistry and make us feel happier. It is also infectious - so smile at someone you pass and start a chain reaction!
Stroke an animal – a dog, cat, rabbit or pony. It doesn’t matter what the animal is. Giving attention to our furry friends’ releases Oxytocin, the love hormone and makes us feel less stressed.
Go out for a walk in the sunshine, even if you don’t feel like it. Sunshine provides us with vitamin D which is a natural mood booster. If you can’t walk, just sit in the sunshine for a little while.
Read an enjoyable book. Research shows that just 6 minutes of relaxing into a good book can reduce blood pressure and muscle tension.
Make use of ‘green therapy’. If you have a garden, get into it. If you don’t have a garden, use your exercise time wisely and plan a route where you can get into nature. Or plan social/family time around getting into parks, forests, nature reserves etc.
Get creative and think of things that will work for you. You will be amazed at how effective even simple things can be to help you reduce your stress.
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Thanks to those who responded after the last newsletter.
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You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I also do online counselling and coaching and I have clients all over the world.
On my website you'll find lots of free articles, posters and worksheets. I have written and created them all with the intention of helping you find your inner winner. Read, them use them, share them!
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