Ten Ways to Reduce Stress and Increase your Zen (Part one)

 Photo by Emma Simpson

Photo by Emma Simpson

 This article was featured in the August/September issue of Holistic Therapist Magazine.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle

We've talked about the stress-health connection and common ways that stress can affect your health in previous posts.

Once underlying medical causes have been excluded, the first step is taking a long, hard look at your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself about where it could be useful to make some changes to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Let’s break it down with our ten point plan:

 

1.     Sleep

 If only my nightstand looked like this  Photo by Alexandra Gorn

If only my nightstand looked like this

Photo by Alexandra Gorn

Aim for eight hours of good-quality, solid kip. 

That means prioritizing it – skip that last drink to get home earlier, set an alarm an hour before bed-time to remind you to stay on track and don’t take your devices to bed.  Let your bed be your sanctuary, where you can melt the day’s stresses away as you snuggle down for the night.

 

2.     Food

 You just know that the keyboard has soy sauce on it  Photo by the Creative Exchange

You just know that the keyboard has soy sauce on it

Photo by the Creative Exchange

What are you putting on your plate and into your mouth? You already know you should nourish yourself with goodness, but take a moment to assess how you are eating and whether this could be affecting your stress levels.  

Inhaling your lunch at your desk?  Fork in one hand, Facebook feed in the other? Dinner whilst you veg out on the couch? STOP!  Literally, stop to look at your food when you eat it.  Think about what you’re eating and take time to enjoy the tastes and flavours.

Whether you eat with people or alone, use mealtimes as an opportunity to fuel your body and your soul.

 

3.     Devices

 So sleek, so addictive, so bad for you  Photo by Bruno Nascimento

So sleek, so addictive, so bad for you

Photo by Bruno Nascimento

Your phone doesn’t come with a health warning but it should do.

A recent survey showed the average Brit checks their phone 28 times a day. That’s at least once an hour and more than 10,000 times a year.  The compulsion to keep glancing, scrolling and browsing in turn fuels the need for constant stimulation. We are never ‘off’ – something is always pinging away and when it doesn’t, we go looking for more.

This affects energy levels and concentration; whilst your battery is being drained, so are you. And let’s take a moment to reflect on social media.  The likes, the follows and instant gratification go hand in hand with feelings of anxiety, envy and inadequacy. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and it’s taking a toll on your wellbeing.

We’re not about to suggest you throw your phone in the bin, but a digital detox through imposing some limits can help regulate phone use and keep stress levels in check.

 

4.     Free your mind

 Photo by Annie Spratt

Photo by Annie Spratt

Slow down, enjoy life and smell the roses.  If it doesn’t come naturally to you, it will with a bit of practice. We are strong believers in the power of the mind: give it the time it deserves. 

Learn to be still and connect with your surroundings, whether it be through practices like meditation, T’ai Chi, Yoga or prayer or something as simple as going for walk. Anything that helps to relieve stress is a winner. We strongly believe that spiritual health should be given as much priority as physical health.

 

5.     Have fun!

 Knitting is now an official hipster activity  Photo by Philip Estrada

Knitting is now an official hipster activity

Photo by Philip Estrada

Enjoy yourself…you’ve earned it! Unwinding with friends to destress is always a hit. Exercise is a great way to get the endorphins going, release stress whilst also helping you stay fit.  And whilst bingeing on Netflix is fun, spending four hours watching the criminal exploits of a Colombian drug cartel is unlikely to lower your cortisol levels. 

Instead, pretend to be your granny and unwind with some good ol’ fashioned pastimes like journaling, cooking, crafts and gardening.  This has the added bonus of paradoxically making you cool.  If you go full old school (e.g embroidering a tablecloth) you get extra hipster points. 

 

Stay posted

Check out part 2 of this series to get more ways to reduce stress and increase your zen.