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Stress Awareness – Today & Every Day

by Sharon Taylor

April is National Stress Awareness month. A month when we are encouraged to look at how stress is affecting our work and family life and look at what we can do about reducing it.

We all encounter stressful situations and we’ve all seen colleagues and fellow business owners displaying signs of stress and heading towards burnout. Stress is your body’s automatic way of reacting when you are feeling threatened. Stress is a natural reaction which prepares you for ‘flight or fight’. Your nervous system releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to prepare your body for an emergency. Your heart pounds faster to allow blood to rush to where it’s most needed, your breathing quickens, your muscles tighten ready for action and your senses sharpen. Whilst short bursts of stress can help you to rise to meet a challenge, long periods of stress caused by todays’ busy lifestyle has become common, causing our bodies to be in stress mode when loss of life or injury aren’t imminent.

Something you find stressful may not cause stress to someone else. Equally, things that don’t cause you stress today may feel un-surmountable at another time. You may have feelings of being out of control and things are getting on top of you. The first thing to do when you recognise that you are feeling stressed is to STOP and take time to acknowledge that you are stressed and how it is affecting you mentally, physically and emotionally. Then look at what action you can take or where you can get help to reduce these feeling and bring feelings of calm and joy back into your life.

During Stress Awareness Month it’s a good idea to think about implementing some activities that you do on a regular basis which will help you to better deal with situations that previously would have caused you stress.

Here are 5 stressbusting activities to incorporate into your daily life.

#1. Abdominal breathing

This need only take a few minutes and will help you to feel calm. Breathe in for the count of 1 then breathe out to the count of 2. Do this 5-6 times then breathe in for the count of 2 and breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat until you feel calmer.

#2. Channel your inner child

Research has shown that colouring can help you when you are feeling stressed. Colouring relieves stress by helping you to focus on an activity that allows you to take your mind off what is worrying you. Colouring involves logic and creativity which when used together they change the brain waves that are affected by stress.

#3. Physical exercise

Physical activity can help you to take your mind off your worries, improve the blood flow around your body and improve your body’s ability to use oxygen. Also, during exercise your production of Serotonin increases, these are ‘feel-good’ hormones.

#4. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness helps you to be in the present moment and will help you to deal with stressful situations in a more calm and constructive way.

#5. Do something that makes you happy

Making time to do something you enjoy can help you to relax and reduce your stress levels. Take on an art project, care for a pet, do some decorating, dancing or yoga. Try a new hobby or sport, do something creative or start journaling your thoughts and feelings.

By making time to do something that you find pleasurable on a daily basis you will be able to cope better with situations that previously would have caused you stress.

If you need help recognising and managing your stress levels some timeout to recharge and relax could do the trick. Take a look at the new relax and rejuvenate retreat days that I am now offering and register your interest for the next one. If it’s something that interests you, simply complete the form at the bottom and I will send you information about my next retreat together with any special offers.

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