Stress Pandemic Part 1: Change the Little Things
I question you to think about how many people you know:
- Who are on tablets for stress/anxiety
- Who have been / are off work due to stress related illnesses
- Who have or wanted to quit their job due stress
- Who feel trapped in a job or in situations they are unhappy in
I bet, a lot! Hence the word Pandemic. It’s rife in the UK and the world. It is a disease and one we can cure ourselves of… if we choose to put in the work. We can change and/or control this, but it takes some training of the ‘monkey mind‘ to do so!
Would you like to know about the little things that can help to alleviate stress? Here are some tips that I have picked up.
– What is Stress? –
To decide if we are stressed, we must first understand what stress is and how it affects us. The dictionary defines it as…
A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
|synonyms:||strain, pressure, (nervous) tension, worry, anxiety, trouble, difficulty;
“he’s under a lot of stress”
However, it means something different to each and every one of us and affects us all in different ways. It’s a big topic in the world today and many of us have or do lead very stressful lives. It takes toll on our mental and physical health. Many think that they have to live like this, that they are trapped.
It’s a fact of life, that we will encounter stressful and anxious moments.
There are ways and means to change our lives, or our mindsets. If we can do this, we can bring more peace into our lives and make positive changes for the better. Even if its a little habitual change a day, you would be surprised how much of an impact and a difference it can make in your life.
– How Stress Affects Us –
We are designed for this, it helps engage our natural reactions to deal with situations (such as fight or flight, or letting us know something is wrong or amiss in certain situations).
However, the un-natural stress that we have to endure is what is causing problems in today’s society. It affects both mental and physical health on a large scale, with people sometimes even turning to drugs to cope.
It stops us from living our lives fully, leaves us trapped and unable to function how we wish to. It keeps us trapped in a little bubble of fear and often people will not change and stay in situations because of this fear that stress and anxiety brings.
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
- Overeating or under eating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
A majority of these symptoms are invisible to the eye. Lots of people suffer silently and think they just have to go about life and its OK. People put on brave faces, but are suffering inside.
It’s like a play – you see the main act, but you do not often get to glimpse behind the curtains.
This is why issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are such aweful things and difficult to deal with.
Especially with work-related stress, it affects all aspects of life and isn’t just left at work. It needs to be dealt with or it can have serious effects on your life.
It’s not OK, you do not have to suffer and there are ways and means of changing your life for the better.
It may be big changes, it may be small changes, but you have the power to reduce stress in your life.
– Sometimes, it’s the Little Things –
What little changes can we make, that make a really big difference in stress and anxiety reduction?
Check what you’re putting in your body
Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs (legal and otherwise), processed food and sugar.
All these will have an effect on stress and anxiety, whether you realise it or not.
These things give you a quick boost, then a low. We know they are bad for us, but a lot of us reach out for them anyways.
But after the high comes the lows.
We should be aiming for things that keep us constant. Not things that bring us up, to bring us crashing down, be it 20 mins, an hour, or a day later.
Can you cut/reduce any of these things out your diet? Try eating more fruit and vegetables, consider a more plant based diet, switch to green tea, or my new favourite butterfly pea tea!
It may be challenging at 1st, but you will feel the benefits later.
We literally are what we eat/drink and what we put into our bodies.
Our bodies use vitamins, minerals , proteins, carbohydrates and other compounds from our food to re-build our bodies from a cellular level. What we eat and what we drink is super important for our health, emotional and physical.
One of the best things I have done is cutting/reducing these things in my life. Consequently, my anxiety is so much better and in control. I think its one of the most important little things we can do to make a big difference.
Move Your Body
You should be moving consistently for 30 minutes minimum daily, or at least 5 days in a week. It is crucial for our mental and physical health. Exercise releases endorphins, which help alleviate both mental and physical pain as well as having a calming effect on the mind. It keeps our minds, body and organs supple, plus it improves our cardio-vascular health.
Even if its walking the dogs for 30 minutes a day, or cycling and swimming; anything that gets us moving is so beneficial. Co-blogger Sarah is often out in the mountains to combat anxiety and stress.
Both moving and diet are interlinked…
The more we exercise, the more we tend to eat healthier and vice versa. When we eat healthier we tend to have more energy and feel like we want to be active.
On the converse,
the more we stay in, lounge around and are not active, the more likely we are to reach for food to match our mood.
When we are not exercising, we tend to reach for the processed and sugary food, or opt for takeaways. Both are important and go hand in hand.
Do Things to Calm the Mind
We need to create space for ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to have calm periods of time in every day. Not only will we benefit, but others in our lives will too.
It is ESSENTIAL to create space to facilitate healing from stress.
We need to stop being so busy, for our minds sake. One thing I and many others have found so crucial in reducing stress, is facilitating time into our days and into our lives to switch off and allow the mind to still.
Allow yourself some calming time, every day, with no phone, no laptop and no distractions. Just you, facilitating relaxation in your day.
It may be curling up on the sofa with your favourite book, having a nice relaxing bath or watching your favourite TV series with a cup of tea. Any time like this in your day is valuable. Cherish it and value it.
Meditate and Make it a Daily Routine
There are many useful guided meditation videos on YouTube that are great for beginners, or advanced alike. These will help you to reach a calm mind quite easily and with practice. It might take a few goes, but the mind is a tool that needs to be trained like any other muscle.
All you have to do is lie down and listen… the rest is magic. It takes a few times, but once you start to train your mind to slow down, clear thoughts and have a one-point focus, the rest follows. Calm the chatter of the ‘monkey mind‘.
Do Things That Make Your Soul Happy
Do things that are good for the spirit and the soul! Sing, dance, tell that lame joke or go ask your Parents about their life, hang out with your sister/brother/nieces/nephews/cousins/grandparents, swim, run, walk in nature, cycle or just move.
Do Yoga, go kickboxing, start a Zumba class, or try attending a few dance classes. Meditate, catch up with friends, cook inspiring healthy meals, buy a smoothie maker. Read a book with a cuppa. Cuddle lots. Spend time with children and with animals. Finish that DIY task you’ve been putting off, book a flight to somewhere you’ve dreamt of going, say ‘I love you’ to someone and mean it, smile at strangers, be polite to all, kill folk with kindness.
All these things are guaranteed to be good for your soul.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
Surround yourself with positive people, positive music and positive hobbies.
If your workplace is negative, it can be difficult to escape. Try not to engage in negative talk and remove yourself from negative situations as best you can. Same with family and friends.
The more you do positive things, the more positive people will start to appear in your life. Be it starting a new class, going to yoga, the gym or joining a local running club.
Listening to positive music, reading and watching TV shows/documentaries with positive messages and doing positive hobbies will all have a benefit on stress and anxiety.
Practice Yoga Routinely
Find a teacher who isn’t asana (posture) and gym focussed, to guide you in developing a regular yoga practice.
“Yoga chitta vritti nirodha”
The aim of yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind.
Improving fitness, strength and flexibility is a bonus, but not the aim of the game. If you find a teacher who embraces all aspects of yoga, it can really have a positive influence on your life and help you to still your mind and de-stress. I used to find my ashtanga and hatha classes a safe haven, where for one and a half hours, I could just zone out and relax.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. Make bed-time a priority, make it relaxing and an enjoyable peaceful time. If you struggle sleeping, sometimes sleep music can be a great aid to getting to sleep, or sleep hypnosis.
– Make Positive Changes at Work –
Some stress is normal at work and part and parcel of most jobs, but sometimes it can become excessive. It starts to affect your happiness and productivity at work, as well as having an adverse effect on your relationship with colleagues and senior staff.
Work related stress can follow you around outside of work and have negative effects on all aspects of life, leading to anxiety and sometimes depression. To ensure stress doesn’t follow you outside of work, it’s important to take steps at work to reduce and alleviate it…
Move at Work
If you have a desk job, make sure you move around at work; at least every half hour try to get out of your chair. Can you sneak some office yoga into your daily routine?
If it’s dark when you start and finish work, try to take a 15 minute walk outdoors in the sun. Especially in the winter months. You need vitamin D to maintain a healthy life. It will make you happier and lift your mood.
Take the stairs instead of the lift. Offer to make others coffee so you can take a break from the computer. Leave your desk and go out for dinner. All these things make a big difference.
Listen to Relaxing Music
Is it possible to take your MP3 player into work, so you can listen to relaxing music whilst at work? Some things I used to listen to are binaural beats. They really help with relaxation and have the following benefits (from medical news today):
- reduced stress.
- reduced anxiety.
- increased focus.
- increased concentration.
- increased motivation.
- increased confidence.
It has been proven to aid relaxation and reduce stress, so listening to these whilst working can help alleviate stress.
Say No or Ask for More Flexibility
If you don’t state that you’re not coping, chances are more responsibility will be thrown your way. It’s important to ask for help: if no one knows, no one can help.
Flexibility is also a great way to alleviate stress. Do you have a doctors appointment that you need to get to, or do your parents need caring for? Asking if you can start later and finish later, or start earlier and finish earlier (on days you need help), could lift a massive weight from your shoulders. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Eat Right at Work
Eating healthy is important all the time, not just out of work hours. Avoid those highs and lows!
If you apply all these tips and pointers, you should be able to alleviate your stress inside and outside work. It’s basically about taking time for peace, in your day. You owe yourself it and you deserve it. Your own well-being is needed before you can be of any use to the world, so its worth remembering this.
You must love and be of service of yourself before you can love and be of service to others.
Sometimes though, there are bigger problems and bigger changes are needed.
Please look out for Stress Pandemic Part two: time to change the big things.
For advice on how to change the bigger things to combat stress and anxiety and lead a more peaceful life. Sometimes life throws us these curve balls, but we can overcome them in a positive way with some guidance.
We need changes when we feel stuck in life, or when stress is affecting our mental health.
If it’s big changes, or small, it is totally achievable.
With planned life goals, being consistent, persevering and having patience, you can change your life for the better. Have faith and go forward!
There is light at the end of the tunnel, you can escape the stress pandemic!
Whats your experiences? I’d love to hear from you!
Peace & Love