Keep your calm through the Summer Holidays.
Nicky – Nicky For Life
First the bad news … stress isn’t good for us. But you probably already knew that.
But the impact of stress can go deep. It can really disrupt our physiology. It can impact how well we digest our food and our overall gut health, it can affect our mood, our energy, how well we sleep, our immune system, it stops us absorbing nutrients, can cause hormonal imbalances, it’s been linked to depression, and unfortunately the list goes on.
There’s a difference between every day stress and chronic long-term stress. A bit of stress every now and then is OK, and perfectly normal. It’s when it becomes daily, chronic stress or when you’re going through a particularly stressful period in your life that it can impact us more deeply. And – and this is a big and – you only need to think of something stressful and your body can go into the stress response.
Now for the good news …
Stress can be unavoidable but we can choose how we react to stress and what we do. Even the simple act of breathing, properly breathing, can switch your body from the stress response to the other part of the nervous system which is known as rest and digest.
First of all become aware. Notice when you’re feeling stressed, what’s causing you to be stressed and notice how it feels and presents in your body.
For me I become very busy in my head, I feel less able to cope with things, my sleep is disrupted and then if I let it continue for too long, it affects my skin.
Then think about whether you can remove the stressor. That’s not always possible but it’s worth thinking about.
Then think about what you can do to help manage the stress in your life. Having different tools and strategies can help how you cope with life and stress in general.
This will be different for everyone. My staples are yoga and meditation. Meditation can be very beneficial in quieting the mind and helping you better cope with stress. Research has also found meditation can help with anxiety.
Here are some other things that may work for you:
Going for a walk
Listening to music
A night out with friends
A good hug from someone (hugs can be very good for your health!)
Getting creative – write something, paint something or make something
Writing down what you’re grateful for each day
Spending time with people that lift you up
Watching a funny film or a comedy series (laughter really is good medicine)
All of these things can make you more mindful, they can take you away from whatever it is that’s causing you stress. They can help you relax and quieten down your nervous system, moving into the relaxed state.
Here’s an exercise that can help you with this. Get a journal if you have one (and if you don’t I’d really recommend getting one) or a pen and some paper.
Write down what’s causing you the most stress in your life at the moment.
Then brainstorm what you can do about it – take your time, write down anything that pops in your head don’t let any barriers get in your way (so if it’s your job for example, you can write down leave job even though that might not be a viable option at the moment). You might be surprised by what comes up.
Write down one thing you’re going to do over the next week to help you manage your stress. And detail how you’re going to make sure it happens. If for example you’re going to try meditation, write down how many times you want to meditate this week, what time of day you’ll meditate and for how long. You can also write down if you’re going to use an app to help you, perhaps a guided meditation. Getting into the detail will make you more like to do it.
Stress is part of our everyday lives, but how you manage and work with it can help how it impacts your body, your health and your overall well being.
And remember if in doubt just breathe. Take three really deep breaths and be really mindful when you take them. You can even pause after breathing in and then again once you’ve breathed out.
If you have any questions just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.