5 ways to reduce your stress
Ok, I say it every year but seriously, where did this year go!? I can already feel myself stressing out about Christmas, meeting those end of year deadlines for work and seeing our savings slowly dwindle we enter the notorious silly season. And for school and uni folk just the mere mention of 'November' will send their heart racing as they start to worry about the study they haven't done in preparation for their exams!
So, how do we lower our blood pressure and the risk of losing our nut at the poor cashier in Myer at Christmas time? Well here are some tips for managing the effects of negative stress as we head into the final stages of 2015:
1. Nourish your body
An effective way to reduce stress is to nourish your body and combat the symptoms of stress through physical exercise, movement, meditation, massage and sleep. By engaging in these activities you can break negative stress patterns and bring your body to a state of calm. So why not give yourself an early Christmas present this year and buy yourself a day (or hour) at the spa!
2. Strengthen your mind
Train your mind to support you and gain control of your stress through a range of mind strengthening exercises. Often the negative and worrisome thoughts we have are based around irrational beliefs or 'worst case' scenarios. Challenge these damaging and self-limiting thoughts with rationalisation, positivity and encouraging self-talk. Rather than thinking about what is going wrong in your life, think about what is going right. Before going to bed, write down 3 things that went well for you each day. Evidence suggests that in just 6 weeks you can significantly decrease your levels of stress. So, start now and be less stressed when December rolls around!
3. Declutter your environment
Feeling disorganised can make you feel out of control increase your stress levels. Research suggests that by decluttering your home or work space you can free up your mind. So, given it is Spring, now is the perfect time to do a little spring cleaning. Sort your things into three piles 'Throw away', 'Give away' and 'Keep'. Not only will you feel good about cleansing your space but by donating unwanted or unused items to charity you are helping those in need. Win-Win!
4. Balance your life
According to Chris Skellet, author of "When Happiness is not Enough", we must strike a balance between pleasure and achievement in order to live a fulfilling life. When we focus too much on achievement we can become anxious and increase our stress levels. On the other hand, too much pleasure can leave us feeling unhealthy and out of control. Think about where you might sit on the spectrum of achievement vs pleasure and whether you need some rebalancing.
5. Be engaged with those around you
Having strong connections with your family, friends and wider community is essential in improving wellbeing and assisting you in combating the symptoms of stress. When you make positive social connections your opioid pathways leaving you on a natural high! But don't worry if people aren't your thing, research also suggests that by spending time with your favourite furry animal you can decrease your blood pressure and increase your levels of serotonin.
Hopefully, by following some of these simple strategies you can reduce your negative stress levels and enjoy and look forward to the last few months of the year!