Stress Awareness Week takes place 4-8th November. According to a YouGov survey, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year. And it’s taking its toll on our health service. NHS data shows there has been a 28 per cent increase in the number of hospital admissions for stress and anxiety in the past decade. [Source]. While health company Forth discovered that over a third (37%) of British residents feel stressed for at least one full day per week. That equates to four days in a month at minimum.
So if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you are most certainly not alone! While chronic stress needs dealing with (we offer NLP, hypnotherapy and EFT to help stressed clients) there are simple things you can do on a daily basis to keep your stress levels in check. Here are a few of our favourites.
Singing at the top of your voice, whether it’s at home in front of the mirror with a hairbrush as your mic, in the shower or in the car where nobody can hear you is good for you!
Better still, why not join a local singing group or choir, then you’ll have the added benefit of forming social bonds which has been shown to lower stress hormones.
In small studies, singing has been shown to improve mental wellbeing.
Sleep is such a simple and vital part of our lives for wellbeing, yet many people are sleeping less than ever before. And it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of lack of sleep increasing stress and increasing stress disrupting sleep.
Try to put some good sleep hygiene practise in place – learn 11 ways to cure insomnia. And don’t feel guilty about taking a siesta or having a lazy weekend – your body and mind will thank you!
Put the kettle on
Brits are well known for ‘putting the kettle on’ when the stress hits the fan. And it turns out there may be some wisdom in it! While caffeinated builders tea might increase agitation, (although there is evidence that the very act of making, and drinking, a cup of tea reduces stress) there are several teas that are proven to be soothing and calming.
A cup of decaffeinated green tea before bed has been proven to help reduce stress and improve quality of sleep. There are various calming herbal teas such as mint, lemonbalm and chamomile which you can grow in your garden or buy from a store. Chamomile tea has been shown, in this small study, to significantly reduce moderate to severe generalised anxiety disorder symptoms.
Take up a hobby
You remember the last time you were so involved and focused on something enjoyable that you couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed? It’s most likely you didn’t feel stressed during that time either!
While many of us have busy lives, its important to schedule in some quality downtime – but that doesn’t necessarily mean vegging out infront of the TV. Find an activity that requires your concentration and focus such as photography, art or playing a musical instrument and give your overthinking mind a break.
Read a good book
We’ve mentioned before that reading a good book is an excellent, and enjoyable way, to reduce stress. In fact, there are numerous health benefits to reading! You only have to think of young children – most of whom love a story before bed or enjoy story time at school.
In a survey commissioned by the Reading Agency, it was reported that over a third (38%) of the nation chooses reading as their ultimate stress remedy. 35% of participants revealed that books are most likely to bring them comfort when they are feeling down
There’s always someone more stressed than you are, so reach out and offer support to others. It might boost your confidence, and it will certainly give you a warm, fuzzy glow. Whatsmore, providing help to others appears to help our mental state and is an effective strategy for coping with everyday worries. [Source]
And it doesn’t have to take up much of your time – we’re not talking about volunteering for several hours a week (although doing that will certainly make you feel good!) – it can be as simple as holding a door for someone, letting a car out infront of you during rush hour or smiling at a stranger.
Listen to music
If singing isn’t your forte, then listen to music that uplifts you – it doesn’t matter whether it’s classical, or pop music from the ’80’s – it’s all about what brings YOU happiness and lifts your mood. Bonus points if you dance a little too!
Several studies have found that listening to music can have a beneficial effect on both body and mind. In fact music is a great all rounder and has been shown to beneficially affect stress-related physiological, as well as cognitive, and emotional processes.
It’s been shown that listening to music helps reduce stress, anxiety and improve immune system function; it can lead to greater psychological and physiological relaxation plus enhance emotional wellbeing. Read more here, here, here
Move your body
Notice we didn’t use the E word – exercise! If you’re stressed and hate exercise then feeling that you have to do it will be even more stressful. Let’s face it, if you’re going for a run and stressed, worrying or hating every second of it, then it’s unlikely to help your stress levels.
But what about moving your body? Harvard Medical suggest that simply moving can improve mental health. There’s bound to be a movement you love, whether it’s gentle stretching, bouncing on a trampoline or the feel of your body swimming through water. Perhaps you love nature, in which case a mindfulness walk might be just the thing for you. This article suggests that combining mindfulness with movement is a winning formula for reducing stress.
Still not convinced? Here are 12 enticing ways to get outdoors, even if you’re a couch potato! Or how about writing yourself a nature prescription? Physical activity helps improve the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, so it’s important to incorporate movement throughout your day – do a few Qi Gong stretches, potter in the garden and remember to take the stairs rather than the lift.