6 Great Ways To Manage Stress


Now-a-days life can be so fast paced and stressful it sometimes feels like it's so difficult to just slow down and take a breather. Many clients say to me that they just never find the time to relax as they are overwhelmed with everything that they need to do during the day. If you find that your life is like this then you have to ask yourself, "Do I not have time to spend 10 - 15 minutes a day (yes that's all it takes!) on something that is going to be so beneficial for my health and well-being?" Of course the answer has to be YES I DO as chronic stress can have such a detrimental effect on your body; have a read of my blog "Stress: How it affects your body" .


The thing is the more you find time to relax the easier your life becomes as you start finding that you are able to tackle life's ups and downs a lot easier. There is an old Chinese proverb that goes "You can't stop the waves but you can learn to swim" and the best way to learn to swim is by finding time to relax.


I have listed 6 great ways to manage your stress. Find one that is best for you and practice it every day. You may be surprised at what a difference it makes to your life.

1. Meditation

Meditation is the practice of attempting to keep your mind focused on one thing, such as your breath, a mantra, a sound etc. for a fixed amount of time. Whilst meditating you may be able to keep your focus of attention on your breath/mantra/sound etc. for 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes if you're lucky, but inevitably at some point your mind will wander off into thinking, planning, worrying, reminiscing etc. Your mind may stay here for 30 seconds, 1 minute even 2 minutes or longer but the idea is to notice when the mind has wandered and bring it back to your breath (or whatever your chosen object of focus is). This mind wandering will happen again and again but every time you notice it has wandered just bring your focus back to your breath without giving yourself a hard time.

Even if during a 10 minute meditation you only manage to keep your focus on your breath for 2 minutes, it will still be very beneficial for your mind.



The more you practise the more you will start noticing that you are able to bring it in to your daily life; so that when you become aware that you are worrying, catastrophising, planning, reminiscing etc. you learn to simply bring your mind back to the present moment and to calm yourself down by focusing on your breath.


Have a read of my blog “How does meditation help reduce stress?”


You may find a meditation app helpful. Reportedly these are 5 of the best Headspace, Calm, Buddhify, The Mindfulness App and Smiling Mind.


2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice where you learn to focus on the here and now rather than worrying about the past or the future etc. Meditation is a big part of the practice but it also involves other exercises to bring mindfulness into your daily life. The type of exercises may include eating your food mindfully, taking a shower mindfully, going for a mindful walk, taking a few minutes to observe your breath, what you can see, hear, feel, smell, taste in the present time. When you are doing these tasks mindfully, that is all you are doing; you are noticing everything in the present moment about the food, the shower, the walk etc. rather than thinking about anything else.


Having a mindfulness practice also includes learning how to be more compassionate, being grateful, more accepting and letting go of struggles in your daily life.


Here are some guided mindfulness meditations that you might like to listen to:


Mindfulness of breathing

Mindful body scan

3 minute breathing meditation


For more information about mindfulness have a read of my blog What is mindfulness and how can it help you lead a stress-free life?


If you would like to enrol on my 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme please email me info@goodhealthiq.com.

3. Go for mindful relaxing walks in the countryside or the beach

Get out in the countryside/seaside as often as you can to get plenty of fresh air into your lungs. When you go for walks do it mindfully; notice everything that you can hear, feel, smell, see, moment by moment. Every time you notice worrying thoughts creeping into your mind bring your focus back to everything you can hear, feel, smell, see etc. in the here and now. This way you will get more pleasure out of what you are experiencing during the walk and it will help to calm your mind.

4. Yoga

Yoga is of course a way to exercise your body however it is also a form of meditation. Whilst performing the yoga poses you are focusing on the movement of your physical body as well as your breath. Whilst your mind is focusing in this way there is no room for any other busy thoughts of everyday life which is why it is a helpful way to calm your mind and manage stress.

5. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

This is a relaxation method that can be done sitting or lying down which involves tensing your muscles whilst breathing in and relaxing your muscles whilst breathing out. You do this with each group of muscles one by one, starting at your feet and working upwards through your body. Research has shown that if performed regularly that this can have a positive effect on reducing anxiety.


Here is a link to a guided PMR.

6. Breathing Exercises

There are lots of different breathing exercises that you can try but here are just 2.

Breathing exercise 1

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your legs and arms uncrossed.

  • Breathe in deeply into your abdomen and say to yourself "Breathe in relaxation".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and then breathe out whilst saying to yourself "Breathe out tension".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and again breathe in whilst saying to yourself "Breathe in relaxation".

  • Pause for 2 seconds and then breathe out whilst saying to yourself "Breathe out tension".

  • Whilst doing this you may find it helpful to identify areas in your body that are feeling tense and direct your breath into that area. As you breathe in think about what relaxation would look, feel or sound like. Whilst breathing out again imagine what tension would look, feel or sound like and imagine breathing it out into the air.

  • Do this practice for 10 - 15 mins daily.

Breathing exercise 2

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down with your legs and arms uncrossed.

  • Take a deep, slow breath into your abdomen whilst counting to 5.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe out slowly to a count of 7 and let go of all tension.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe in slowly to a count of 5.

  • Hold your breath to a count of 2.

  • Breathe out slowly to a count of 7 (or longer if you can) and let go of all tension.

  • And so on.

  • Do this for 10 - 15 minutes daily.

When the outbreath is longer than the in-breath this stimulates the vagus nerve which invokes the relaxation response; also known as "rest and digest"; your digestive system digests food best when the body is in a resting state.


Here is a link to a 10 minute breathing exercise.


Youtube

There are plenty of guided meditations, breathing exercises and relaxation music that you can listen to on Youtube, which I am sure you will find helpful. Find something that you enjoy listening to and listen regularly. For some relaxation time have a listen to my "Walking in the Forest" guided visualisation.


Practice is the key

It is important to find something that you feel drawn to and to stick with it. It will most probably seem difficult at first and you may give up thinking that it’s not working but keep at it. You will find that perseverance will be of great benefit and you will soon start reaping the rewards.


Check out my website to find out how else I can help.


Disclaimer: This article is for information only. You should always seek advice from your GP before embarking on any health programme.

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