Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Life | Tips and Tricks to Fight Stress

Stress can be quite a drag when it has its grip on you and over the years through high school to uni and then on to a professional career...stress has definitely reared its ugly head on occasion. In this time I have researched, heard about and developed my own ways of dealing with stress so I thought I would put all these little tips and tricks in to a post and hopefully one might resonate with you so you have something to combat stress the next time it crops up...
I can't escape quoting Legally Blonde now “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.” Or we could just leave it as happy people aren’t letting stress get to them? It really is as simple as that, physical exercise releases the happy hormones. Also, exercising muscles can release the tension in muscles that comes with stress, so it can help relieve that tension headache. Just search stress and exercise on the internet to read up.

Use Your Imagination - Senses have memories
This tip was one I picked up at a training course a few years ago, and I have used it successfully ever since. Thinking of each of your senses; smell, taste, see, hear, touch. We use these senses all the time, so it is only natural that these senses have memories associated to them, and in turn, an associated feeling. So take a moment to yourself in a quiet place and think back to a time when you were relaxed, calm, happy, unconcerned about life's trials. Think about what was happening at that time; what could you smell or taste? Was there a song playing or another sound that you can remember? Do you have a picture of that place or moment? Can you remember the feel of something? You need to find something that has such a strong association that just by smelling something that you remember at that time, or seeing a picture of the place, you can take yourself back to that moment of calm. This is probably difficult to imagine right now so I will share my own example and maybe you could find your own memory to relate back to.
I was lucky enough to have a honeymoon of a life time in the Maldives, and a moment from that holiday that I remember was after a relaxing massage in a hut over the water with a glass floor. It was one of those hugely expensive, gimmicky honeymoon massage treatments for couples, so we both had a massage and then there was a bath filled with oils and all sorts of skin enriching ingredients at the end, overlooking nothing but endless Indian ocean. I remember so vividly that moment of sitting there, completely content, without a care in the world, and I remember the smell of Jasmine from the flowers that were in the bath. So now, whenever the pressure is on in work and things are reaching boiling point, I just pop the kettle on and pour a cup of Jasmine tea. I sit there with the cup, smelling the Jasmine, and I instantly feel calmer. Now that is my own personal memory, yours may be from your childhood, it may be a song that you used to sing along with your friends to in Uni or even just something very simple like a picture of your favourite place.
Relax each muscle to get to sleep
I find one of the worst thing about times of stress can be struggling to switch off at night and get to sleep, and lack of sleep only makes things worse! So a technique I use to try and switch my mind off is this; I shuffle in to as comfortable position as I can so that all my muscles feel relaxed. Once I feel like there is no pressure anywhere and I am comfortable I start at my toes and imagine each muscle relaxing, working my way up my body to my forehead. You may get distracted and think of something else and if that happens then start back at your toes again and work your way up. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't, but at least I feel like I am doing something rather than that helpless insomniac feeling of trying to get to sleep desperately.
This technique was something I used throughout my exams in high school and college when I felt overwhelmed with workload. Go to a quiet room, close the curtains, turn off any harsh lighting and light a candle. If you have some relaxing music (preferably instrumental) you could also put this on if you can't shut out exterior noise. Get yourself sitting down comfortably and focus on the candle light and breathe deeply. With each deep breath in, think of one of your stresses, and as you exhale, imagine you are breathing out the issue. Some issues can take more than one breath!

There are lots of ways to fight stress, and I have just pointed out a few that I use, but everyone is different. Sometimes just taking some time out for yourself and having a bath or lying still can help you relax. What do you do to relax and combat stress?

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