Anyone else felt stressed, burnt out and overwhelmed?
Stress has felt like a dominating factor in my lifestyle over the past few years - which means I've had to really double down and learn about it and find out ways to cope with it.
So let's figure this out for you.
Firstly, why is stress worth taking note of? Because it has some HUGE effects, and like many other things that aren't great for us, the effects compound and build up over many years. Short term, you might find some of the physical effects of stress are: low energy, poor memory, digestive issues such as diarrhoea, constipation and nausea, insomnia, chest pain and rapid heart beat, and a lack of sexual desire.
Long term, and the effects are more devastating. Stress starts to shrink the hippocampus of the brain and is a contributing factor and BIG accelerator of the biggest killers in our society - heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia and mental health problems. But before we get all doom and gloom, let's take heart. There is LOTS that we can do to manage the stress in our lives.
1. Notice how it shows up in your body and mind
Something that you think might be due to something else, might actually be stress. Focus on noticing how specifically stress affects you. For instance, I know that it affects my memory and causes my brain to chuck out any information it think it doesn't need (even if I think I do!), I also suffer digestive problems when I am stressed and when I'm really close to the edge, it pulls a full night of insomnia on me. I clench my teeth and bunch my shoulders - chronically.
So how does stress affect you? Is it really the effect of the coffee or is it stress? Is it really the pizza you ate last night, or is it stress? I recommend keeping a stress journal and focusing on noting down the mental and physical effects, what's happening and how you're feeling. Then you can start to notice stressors and patterns.
2. Release it physically
A dedicated movement practice is so important here. Whether that's a workout, a run, a walk, yoga or dance around the kitchen. Moving your body is one of the most effective ways to deal with stress and release it healthily and effectively.
Need something a little more subtle? I love the practice of shaking it out. Your body gets into scrunched up movement patterns where you tend to hold your tension, so standing up, shaking out your arms and legs can REALLY help. There's also a release tension, set intention meditation that you can look up on YouTube - it's a great way to release the tension from your mind and body that involved standing still, breathing and bobbing up and down!
3. Release it mentally
Your mind races because it's trying to keep you safe. It thinks by trying to find all the solutions to your problems, it will help you. But you can't stress yourself to any solution. Find a way to release the tension mentally. It might be through meditation, a breathing practice, flow, yin or yoga nidra. Journalling is also another really powerful method. I keep scrap bits of paper and a stubby pencil by my bed that means I can jot anything down and shift it out of my mind - I might use that piece of paper in the morning as my to-do list or it might go straight in the bin! It can looks like notes in your phone or on your computer; you don't have to have some fancy journal or make any sense!
Recently, I have also really enjoy the practice of tapping as a way of releasing stress - I use the Tapping Solution app but you can also search for EMF technique on Google to find out more about it.
4. Consider your work-life balance
This one could be misinterpreted. I don't really mean work less, or that your relaxation time should equal your work time. I mean QUALITY. We carry our stress from one part of the day to the other. Our leisure time, of staring at the TV or our phones or trying to multi-task our families and our chores, a constant supply of emails and news stories - means that we're not present in our leisure time. So it doesn't release stress. Be present - take time away from screens, walk in nature, have a conversation where you feel heard, connected and supported, breathe. Re-consider the quality of your leisure time - just bringing more awareness and presence to it will re-vitalise you, without even changing anything else.
What have you found most useful above? And what are you favourite stress-busting techniques?